Finally, we arrived to the last character seen in Luke Cage (as usual, if I missed anybody, let me know in the comments). Always in Take It Personal, we meet also Luke Cage‘s father, preacher James Lucas, portrayed by an unknown actor, and only glimpsed in a couple of scenes. In the show, James is a preacher from Harlem, who at a certain point in his life cheats on his wife Esther with his secretary, Dana; he eventually decides to renounce to his mistress and to come back to his family, and consequently he disowned Willis, the son born from his extramarital affair, thus creating an enmity that would have had long-lasting consequences on his children’s lives. In the comics, James is a completely different character: he’s not a preacher, he never cheated on Esther… and he’s also been an Avenger during the 1970s. Let’s see together.
James Lucas was born in Harlem, New York City, a difficult neighborhood in a difficult city (especially for a black man immediately after World War II). Always characterized by a strong morality, Lucas never allowed himself to indulge in the spreading violence that had hit Harlem, and entered the NYPD: with years, he became an excellent officer, and rose in the ranks until he became a detective. A hero cop, Lucas saw many strange things around, but the most peculiar one was the corpse of a half-human half-bat monster he found in 1972, a creature that had apparently been mauled by another similar beast. Investigating on the matter, James joined forces with reporter Constance Molina, who knew quite the perfect guy to ask for help: Adam Brashear, secretly the superhero Blue Marvel. Brashear agreed to help, and asked to see the body; when Lucas brought him to the morgue, however, he found there the vampire hunter Blade fighting with the sorcerer Kaalu over the “were-bat”. The fight was interrupted by another unexpected guest, The Bear, a woman (actually a were-bear) who claimed to be the killer of the were-bat and to know what was happening. She told the others that the creature had been created by the Deathwalkers, a sect of powerful sorcerers who had achieved immortality through black magic, and who was trying to wipe out humanity to make space for a new dominant species by using similar hybrids as sacrifices in dark rituals. Knowing the Deathwalkers had to be stopped, James Lucas, Constance Molina, Blade, Kaalu, Adam Brashear and The Bear united to form the Mighty Avengers, a team born with the sole purpose of taking down the sorcerers. The team, led by Kaalu, tracked down the Deathwalkers under the City Hall, and while Blade faced their leader Lichidus and stole their amulet, the Talisman of Kamar-Taj, Brashear had the entire gallery collapse on them. With the Deathwalkers’ threat stopped, the team disbanded, with the promise always to keep an eye open for their inevitable return.
The following years were pretty normal, everything considered, and James Lucas remained one of the most decorated detectives in New York City. Finally he retired, and once a private citizen he met a woman, Esther, whom he fell in love with. The two got married and had two sons together, James Jr. and Carl. A good father, he tried to teach his values of honesty and discipline to his children, but Carl ended up following another path and entered The Rivals, a local juvenile gang. As embarrassing as it could be for an ex-cop, James found himself going to the police station to collect Carl time after time, anytime he got arrested for his petty crimes; inevitably, this brought their relationship to deterioration. When Esther was killed by one of the Rivals just in front of Carl’s eyes, this was the final drop, and James cut every remaining bond with his younger son. He wasn’t surprised at all when it turned out Carl had been arrested and sent to Seagate Prison, and he didn’t even shed a tear when he was reported dead in an accident. Only James Jr. was left for him, but soon also his remaining son took a dangerous route as he joined the Corporation, a mysterious organization the old detective immediately recognized as an illegal and violent group. James Jr. tried to bring his father to his bosses, but the ex-cop refused… only to be kidnapped by one of his son’s colleagues, Manslaughter. Quite surprisingly, the one who ran to his aid was Carl, who didn’t die in prison but had turned into the superhero Luke Cage. Cage fought Manslaughter and his own brother, who had been transformed into the superhuman Coldfire, and eventually managed to save his father (albeit this costed the life of James Jr.). The two were about to reconcile, but the memories of Esther’s murder eventually brought tension between the two, and James decided to keep considering his son dead as he believed him to be, and left. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and married another woman, Joan; he even changed his name into James Geary: maybe, this time, he would have finally freed himself from his son and the pain he always brought along.
James Lucas, legally renamed James Geary, is a severe and upright man, with a steel-solid morality and a hard character. Brave and selfless, he always follows the right path, with no doubt nor remorse. He’s a skilled detective and a trained hand-to-hand combatant and marksman, and his courage makes him able to battle even supernatural foes like the Deathwalkers’ followers and creations. A cop impossible to buy, Lucas became a father impossible to please, and his unforgiving nature made it quite impossible for him to recover any kind of relationship with his sole surviving son, Luke Cage… but maybe only a man with an impenetrable skin can pierce James Lucas’ impenetrable heart.