Noah Burstein

noahbursteinfilmLast character appearing in Luke Cage episode four, Step in the Arena, is another guy from Luke Cage‘s past. During the flashback in Segate Prison we meet Dr. Noah Burstein, portrayed by Michael Kostroff, an unorthodox yet skilled scientist who experiments on the inmates aiming to perfect the human body. We know that he mostly researched on marine crustaceans, trying to replicate their peculiar resilience in other animals, and that he started experimenting on humans as soon as he had the possibility in prison…and Luke Cage looks like a successful subject, everything considered. Burstein first appears in the flashback, but he’s seen again later in the show, and his presence is quite felt…but let’s avoid spoilers, and take a look at the original doctor.

Noah Burstein’s family had quite some skeletons in the closet, as his father was a Nazi scientist, tasked with reproducing the formula that Abraham Erskine used to transform the scrawny Steve Rogers into the super-soldier Captain America. When World War II ended, Professor Burstein had obtained nothing from his researches, but his son, Noah, had grown fascinated by it. The family moved to the United States of America in search of a new beginning, and Noah developed a completely different personality from his father’s…but he was nevertheless intrigued by his researches, and decided he would have succeeded where his father had failed. Noah studied to become one of the most skilled scientist of his time, an accomplished physician, biochemist and engineer…and he obviously used his skills to continue his father’s work, albeit with a completely different ethics (he only used volunteers, and always took precautions so that nobody got hurt during the experiments). During the war in Vietnam, Burstein was enlisted by the U.S. Army and worked as a surgeon: as usual, he used his position to continue his work, and accepted volunteers for his treatment (clearly a success would have been much appreciated by the Army). His most successful subject was Mitchell Tanner, a CIA operative noahbursteincomics1who became the super-strong and invulnerable Warhawk…unfortunately, there was some unforeseen side-effect to the process, and Tanner ended up losing his mind, becoming an unstable killing machine. The “Warhawk” incident put an end to Burstein’s cooperation with the Army, and once back to the United States, the scientist found a new job as a doctor in Seagate Prison, a maximum security facility in Georgia. Even in here Burstein managed to recreate a lab, and accepted volunteers among the prisoners to try and replicate Erskine’s work; this time, however, he always kept his chemicals at a low level, in order to avoid what had happened to Warhawk, but as a result, none of his subjects ever experienced mutations…until Carl Lucas arrived.

Carl Lucas was one of the new inmates, arrested for drug smuggling and claiming as many others his innocence. Burstein accepted him as a volunteer, and immersed him in the chemical compound he used for his experiments, later activating the electrical field. Burstein kept the electric level low, but when he was not checking, the sadistic guard Billy Bob Rackham, who had a score to settle with Lucas, sabotaged the experiment, and tried to kill Lucas by misusing the controls. This resulted in an explosion that knocked Burstein out: when he woke up, Lucas was nowhere to be found, and Rackham was unconscious near him. Everybody believed Lucas had died while attempting to escape in the nearby waters after the explosion had opened a hole in the wall, but the doctor wasn’t so sure about it. He performed yet another experiment in Seagate, this time on a terminal patient named Jack Daniels, in a last effort to save his life: the experiment failed, and Daniels died. Following Daniels’ case, Burstein left the prison, and decided to dedicate his talent to help others in a different way: he moved to New York City and he opened the Storefront Clinic, to ensure medical care to the ones who couldn’t afford it; he even hired a nurse, Claire Temple, to help him in his job. One day, Claire brought to him a man named Luke Cage, who had just been shot repeatedly by some hitmen…and who apparently sported only some bruises as a result. Burstein recognised in Cage the same Carl Lucas who had noahbursteincomics2“drowned” escaping from Seagate…and realized that he was his one and true success, having now an indestructible skin, and showing no side effect of sort. Cage had been shot by Diamondback‘s men, the same gangsters who wanted Burstein to pay a fee for protection: being Luke Cage a “Hero for Hire“, Claire suggested to the doctor to hire him…and when the nurse was abducted by Diamondback, it became a necessity. Luke Cage answered the call, he freed Claire Temple and defeated Diamondback: Burstein, obviously, didn’t tell the police about Cage’s true identity, and the two became friends, with the doctor now believing in the ex-con’s innocence. Considering the many threats on the horizon, Luke Cage’s arrival was quite a blessing for the poor doctor…

Noah Burstein surely is ambitious, arrogant and somewhat reckless, but he’s also a good man at heart, an idealist who really believes he can make people’s life better with his work, and who considers his intellectual reward just a pleasurable bonus for his mission. Extremely intelligent, he’s a brilliant and multi-faceted scientist, whose field of expertise includes a variety of different disciplines; his experiments gave powers to Mitchell “Warhawk” Tanner, Carl “Luke Cage” Lucas, John “Bushmaster” McIverCruz “Bushmaster” McIver and Officer Steele aka Power Man, but among them he recognizes as his true success Cage, the only one who chose to use his abilities to be a hero and help others…just what Burstein wanted in the first place.



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  4. […] to humiliate her the way she had him, with betrayal. First, he had two friends of Luke’s, Dr. Noah Burstein and Claire Temple, captured and held hostage, then he summoned Cage, ordering him to bring Misty […]

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