Albert Rackham

billybobrackhamfilmTo meet some new character from the comics in Luke Cage we have to jump to episode four, Step in the Arena. Nearly the entire episode is a long flashback about Luke Cage‘s origins, and we have quite a wide view on Seagate Prison…especially on a particular (corrupted) guard, Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham, portrayed by Chance Kelly. In the show, he’s mean and cruel just like he is in the comics, and he lets other prisoners Shades and Comanche beat Luke from dusk till dawn, closing both eyes on the brutality (and that’s no surprise, considering whose payroll he’s on). Anyway, this version of Rackham doesn’t survive as long as his comicbook counterpart…not that anyone will miss him. Being it a way or the other, let’s take a look at the original one.

Not much is known about Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham’s early life; he was born somewhere in Georgia, and as an adult he became a prison guard at Seagate Prison. A bully born, he was feared by the inmates and tolerated by his colleagues, and with years he created quite a reputation for himself, terrifying the prisoners and developing a particular taste in making the life of African-American inmates a living hell. Oiling the right gears, Rackham managed to raise in ranks, and soon he became chief commander of the guards, thus increasing his power over the inmates. Billy Bob also liked the put the prisoners one after the other, and when a newcomer, Carl Lucas, imprisoned for drug smuggling, entered a brawl with two other inmates, Rackham believed he had found a new plaything: he summoned Lucas to his office, and offered him to become an informant for him, earning a number of advantages. The man firmly refused, irritating the chief guard: as a result, Rackham ordered him to solitary confinement, and then he sent one of his “pet prisoners”, Quirt, to beat him as punishment. Lucas, however, wasn’t the silent type, and he denounced Quirt’s abuses: questioned, the inmate accused Rackham of being the one ordering him to attack the fellow inmate, and when this was proved to be true, Billy Bob got demoted, and billybobrackhamcomics1came back to be a regular guard. Enraged, he blamed it all on Carl Lucas, and when the prisoner offered volunteer for a scientific experiment, Rackham saw in it a possibility for revenge. When the scientist, Noah Burstein, wasn’t watching, Billy Bob sabotaged the machine Lucas was in, hoping to kill him…but after an explosion Lucas emerged alive. Wanting to end it, Rackham shot him…but the bullets bounced on the man’s skin: terrified, he tried to escape, but he was knocked out with a simple handwave by the prisoner, who used his newfound superstrength to escape from prison. When he regained his senses, obviously, Bibbly Bob Rackham didn’t tell anybody a word about what had happened.

Billy Bob Rackham kept working at Seagate for years, always with the usual kindness and empathy. When two new prisoners, Shades and Comanche, turned out to be members of the same street gang Carl Lucas had been a part of, he targeted them with particular ferocity. This, however, wasn’t a game that could go on forever, and when a new warden, Tyler Stuart, was assigned to the prison, it turned out he wasn’t so keen on closing an eye about the guards’ brutality. Rackham was fired because of his inhuman ways of tormenting the inmates, and he suddenly found himself on the streets. He started traveling from place to place in search of a new job, until he finally arrived in New York City (unaware that Shades and Comanche had escaped from prison with the sole purpose of finding him and making him pay for what he had done to them). In Manhattan he crossed paths with a reporter from the Daily BuglePhil Fox, who had just learnt that the new hero in town, Luke Cage, had a criminal past, and who wanted to blackmail him but lacked material to do so. Fox and Rackham decided to kidnap Luke’s girlfriend, Claire Temple, to lure the hero out (Rackham wasn’t interested in blackmailing him, he just wanted to arrest him so that he could have his job at Seagate back), but when the moment came, he took the wrong woman, and kidnapped Mimi Jenks instead. When Fox made him realise the billybobrackhamcomics2mistake, the two men started quarreling, and Rackham eventually shot his “partner” dead. In that moment, Claire Temple arrived on the scene: seeing an opportunity, Billy Bob escaped with Jenks, framing Claire for the murder and letting her be arrested. He escaped with his hostage to his house in New Jersey, hoping to have some leverage on Luke Cage now…unfortunately, the hero wasn’t coming alone, as he had teamed up with Comanche and Shades to track the ex guard down and surely wasn’t waiting words from him to act. Future didn’t seem too bright anymore for Rackham…

Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham is a violent and dull man, a brutal prison guard who clinges to that little power he has to make the life of prisoners even worse that it’s supposed to be. Just as crooked, evil and mean as the people locked into Seagate, Rackham is a racist brute who found his personal candy store in a place in which rarely the rights of the people he abuses are recognised.

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