Appearing in "The Drowning Man"
- Chicago Spectator
- Hardcore (First appearance)
- Maggia (Main story and flashback)
- Bushmaster (Main story and flashback)
- Unrevealed mastermind in shadows (First appearance)
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The Drowning Man"
Dakota North briefs the staff of the Chicago Spectator newspaper on the origin story and history of Luke Cage. The publisher wants his staff to center their reporting around Cage, who has opened a new Heroes for Hire business in Chicago. Elsewhere at the site of a workers’ strike, Cage is helping get a riot under control when he is attacked by a villain named Hardcore with an electrified chain. Hardcore and his crew try to get away in a van, but Cage leaps after them and breaks inside, where Hardcore uses an explosive chain against him and kicks him out of the van. Cage apprehends some of the thugs but Hardcore himself escapes.
Speaking with the press afterwards, Cage is accosted by Jeryn Hogarth, who tells him about a mutually beneficial arrangement with the newspaper; Cage agrees to listen.
Outside the city, Hardcore blows up the estate of a wealthy underworld figure named Elio Angelopoulos, assuring him that he will help him disappear, since the Maggia is now trying to kill him. At the newspaper office, Cage is commissioned to go after Angelopoulos; the newspaper staff explains they will follow behind his activities and get the story.
Cage flies to Angelopoulos’s private landing strip with the newspaper’s photographer, a man who claims to have known Cage’s parents. As they approach they are attacked by Hardcore, who forces the helicopter to crash with his chains. Cage leaps out and protects the other man as they crash to the ground below. He charges Hardcore who slams into him with a jeep. Hardcore manages to injure Cage with his diamond-tipped throwing blades, but Cage prevents him from blowing up the jeep where the photographer has followed Angelopoulos. Hardcore boards a small plane and tries to escape, but Cage uses a rocket launcher to destroy the runway and then tears the plane apart with his bare hands. It ends up exploding with Hardcore still inside.
Later Cage is chastised by the news reporter for causing such mayhem, but the photographer says he successfully completed the job by capturing Angelopoulos. They agree to make the arrangement with the newspaper permanent.
Elsewhere, in the Virgin Island, Hardcore is scolded for his failure by an unnamed boss, who sends another thug to attack him. Hardcore kills the thug and says he will not fail again.