With Luke Cage starting off on Netflix, I thought this would be a good time to go over some of the major characters and their comic book counterparts. As with most comic book characters who have been around a while, some of the histories are a bit complicated.
Luke Cage– Luke was one of the first black heroes to have his own title. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit (a popular theme), he volunteered for an experiment that both gave him powers and let him escape prison. He became Power Man, changed his name from Carl Lucas to Luke Cage, and hired himself out as a costumed adventurer, Hero for Hire. He went through a lot of changes over the years, including one of the weirdest friendships in comics when he became business partner and best friend to Iron Fist. Much later, he became a more accepted member of the superhero community, running the Thunderbolts program, becoming an Avenger, and having a child with ex-hero turned PI Jessica Jones. He gave up the Power Man costume and name, which was taken up by other characters.
Misty Knight– Misty was a New York cop who lost part of her arm on duty. She qualified for some kind of special program and got a bionic arm designed by Stark Industries. She and modern samurai Colleen Wing (who will be in the Iron Fist series) became the Daughters of the Dragon, a sort of female counterpart to the Heroes for Hire. Misty has been a long time lover of Iron Fist in the comics, in an on again, off again relationship.
Cottonmouth– Cottonmouth was a minor New York crime boss who was part of the chain of events that led to Carl Lucas becoming the superpowered Luke Cage. He was a very minor character with only a few comic book appearances. Later, the name was reused by a superpowered villain who was part of the snake-themed Serpent Society.
Diamondback– Willis Stryker was a childhood friend of Carl Lucas, who became involved in gangs. He was nicknamed Diamondback for his speed with knives. He had special knives, kind of like Hawkeye/Green Arrow’s trick arrows. Their friendship fell apart over a girl, Reva Connors, and Willis framed Carl for drug dealing, sending him to prison and starting off the events that led to Carl becoming Luke Cage. Later, another character used the name Diamondback as part of the Serpent Society. That Diamondback, a woman, had a relationship with Captain America much like the Batman/Catwoman dynamic.
Black Mariah: Another minor criminal, Mariah ran a gang that used a stolen ambulance to pick up recently deceased bodies and loot them. Cage, early in his career as a Hero for Hire, crossed paths with her and broke up her gang. They crossed a paths a few more times. In the recent revival of the Power Man and Iron Fist comic, an older and changed Black Mariah was part of the first story arc.
Shades & Comanche– They were a low-level pair of super criminals that mostly fought Power Man Luke Cage. Shades has a visor that gave him abilities much like the X-Men’s Cyclops. Comanche had various trick arrows ala Hawkeye or Green Arrow. Neither of them were ever more than C-list villains.