By Matt Wilson
The rumors that former “Angel” co-star J. August Richards would be playing Luke Cage in the new “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series seemed to be confirmed by the teaser trailer ABC and Marvel released over the weekend. In it, a young, black man performs some pretty incredible feats of strength and agility.
But Luke Cage obviously isn’t the only black, super-powered hero in the Marvel Universe, and it wasn’t long before former UGO editor Chris Radtke sussed out who the character really is. According to the two-second Marvel bumper at the start of the trailer, it’s Elvin Daryl Haliday, a.k.a. Rage, best known for his run as a New Warrior in the early 1990s, later as one of the trainers in the “Avengers: The Initiative” series.
So what makes Rage tick? Here are the basics:
His powers are basically like the Hulk’s
Rage is super-strong and nigh-invulnerable just like Luke Cage is, but his powers work a little bit differently. Like the Hulk, Rage gets stronger when he’s angry. Hence the name. That factor particularly came into play in the storyline in which his grandmother, his only family and the woman who raised him, was killed by a gang leader. He was so enraged that he killed his grandmother’s killer, and his teammate Night Thrasher had to lie on his behalf to prevent him from being convicted of murder.
He’s also kind of like Shazam
The character who appears in the S.H.I.E.L.D. teaser looks younger than Rage ever did after getting his powers in the comics. Rage was 12 when he got a bunch of toxic waste dumped on him (you know, like people in the Marvel Universe do), which somehow resulted in his body aging really rapidly. So by the time he was a 14 year-old demanding to join the Avengers, he was a 450-pound, adult-looking person, with a bald head and everything. Not much has been made of his age lately, but considering how slowly time moves in comics, he’s still probably a teenager.
He’s not afraid to say what he thinks
Back to that whole trying-to-join-the-Avengers ploy when he was 14: To get in, Rage made the argument that the Avengers lacked visible minorities on the team and only accepted elites. Of course, that argument, though a tad crass, won over Captain America and the team, and they made him a reservist. He helped fight Dr. Doom and The Collector, among other bad guys, alongside the Avengers, until they discovered his young age and demoted him. That’s when he fell in with the New Warriors.
He has had some truly disastrous costumes
Rage’s typical costume is pretty simple: A vest, leather pants or jeans, boots and a luchadore-style mask with three stripes on the top. But during his time in the “New Warriors,” Rage took on a bit of a different look in which he wore a clunky, metal mask — think Shredder without the Darth-Vader helmet –along with chains on his arms, spiked-metal knee and shoulder pads, and some kind of tattered handkerchief. He looked like a character from a horror-theme football video game.
Night Thrasher was his tightest bro
When Night Thrasher left the New Warriors over some mistrust he engendered by going on an undercover operation without informing the rest of the team, Rage went with him. He returned when Night Thrasher came back.
He’s not terribly active anymore
After one of the New Warriors’ many disbandings, Rage took a break from superheroing for a good long while, going to boarding school instead. It was only after Night Thrasher died in the Civil War event that he was pulled back into duty, in an attempt to save his other New Warriors teammates from attacks. Soon after, he became a trainer at Camp Hammond, the superhero-training camp founded during the fifty-state Initiative. He eventually quit an joined a re-formed New Warriors, who played a small part in the Siege event.