Every major comic book character has a moment that defines who they are and will be in the future. It could be their first appearance, a major battle where their specific skills tipped the scale, or maybe it was a speech they gave that rallied their team or the people to victory. For Luke Cage that moment came decades after his initial appearance in "Heroes for Hire" in 1972. For Luke it was years of being a stereotype in a yellow shirt and tiara. Being a stereotype in comics isn't always a bad thing. You can get out of that image with a good writer. But after years of being a bad character, no one cared. One day Luke became an Avenger. Writer Brian Michael Bendis put Luke on the premier Marvel superhero team and Luke was an awesome character. But is wasn't until New Avengers 22 "Civil War" that Luke would have HIS coming out party.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Superhero Civil War in Marvel, here is a quick rundown. The government passed a law that would force all super powered beings to register their power, names, and secret identities with the U.S. Government. This split the super powered community down the middle. Some joined Captain America (Steve Rogers) and continued to fight the way they always have while others followed Tony Stark (Iron Man) signed the papers and were employees of the government.
Tony and Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) went to the home of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to try and talk them into joining up. While Stark and Danvers tried to convince Luke's wife Jessica Jones to sign up, Luke sat in silence. The two pleaded their case and in the middle of his wife explaining why she felt it was wrong, Luke said "The world ain't a nice place". Luke remembered a talk he had with Wolverine when he explained that the government having the best intentions isn't always what's best. especially when there's a Sentinel on the X-Men's lawn there to protect them when a Sentinel to mutants is like a burning cross to Black and African Americans. Luke stood tall and told Iron Man he wasn't going to sign.
This mark's the first time Luke Cage really stood up and took a stand by himself. That's not to take away from Jessica Jones having a major part by standing her ground, but she would have gone with any play Luke went with just to stand by her man. But Luke felt in his heart it was wrong. What really hit the point home was when Luke said he was just going to sit at home and Stark said they would drag him out of his house in the middle of the night and Cage asked him if this was Mississippi in the 1950's. Stark asked one more time and Luke said he was going to raise his kid. Stark asked what that meant and Luke said, "It's too bad you don't know".
While it may have only been one issue, this was the start of Luke Cage becoming a leader. This was the moment where he stepped up and decided he was no longer going to be just a guy on a team or known as the big black guy who fought next to Iron Fist. Luke went on to fight with Cap and be his right hand man until the war ended, then lead his own team of rogue Avengers, and then his own team of legit Avengers who took care of the little people. Luke Cage became so popular that he will be featured in the Netflix "Jessica Jones" series and his own Netflix show in 2016. If you are looking for a great place to jump on the Luke Cage bandwagon, "New Avengers #22 Civil War" is the place to hop on.