One Spider-Man Villain Would Be the Perfect New Kingpin for Luke Cage

In Marvel Comics, the Kingpin’s foothold in New York made him an enemy of local heroes like Spider-Man and Luke Cage. But Wilson Fisk is gone, and now there’s an opportunity to give Cage a chief enemy of his own from one of the city’s various crimelords; in particular, one brutal villain who is traditionally a Spider-Man foe would be the perfect match: Tombstone.

As part of the culmination to the Devil’s Reign event, Luke Cage has become New York City’s superhero mayor. He’s not alone in this endeavor, as Matt Murdock had the gig once. Cage is coming into this position under a lot of scrutiny, given how his predecessor leveraged it to outlaw superheroism while using a portion of the Purple Man’s power to manipulate the populace. Bringing integrity to the office is no small task, especially since several criminal heavies are trying to move in on Fisk’s scraps. One of them, however, commands more fear than the rest: Lonnie Lincoln, a.k.a. Tombstone. Taking him on wouldn’t just help Cage establish himself as a leader, but it would open up a wide avenue of storytelling possibility that could enrich both characters.


Tombstone famously covered The Spectacular Spider-Man #139 by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema just a few months after his debut appearance, and has been haunting the wallcrawler ever since. It’s in this seminal issue that his origins were revealed as a young man from Harlem who grew up ostracized from his peers because of his albinism, but eventually dominated them because of his size. Thompson went on to monetize his appearance as an enforcer for organized crime, which in due course led him to becoming Wilson Fisk’s top hitman. He was later exposed to an experimental gas that enhanced his physical strength and hardened his skin nearly to the point of impenetrability.

If this is sounding familiar, it should. Luke Cage also grew up running the streets of Harlem, and also received superhuman strength and invulnerability due to experimentation. They took different paths and met different people who were able to influence them, but these men’s stories could easily have been switched. And that’s part of what would make an enmity between them so compelling. Their abilities can be read as an analogue for the “tough skin” Black men feel forced to develop early on as a survival mechanism. Luke Cage is a blaxploitation figure at his root, so Marvel shouldn’t shy away from exploring the deeper allegories he represents. Pairing him with Tombstone presents both men with a kind of mirror to examine themselves.

Currently, Tombstone is becoming too much for Spider-Man to handle, and Luke is taking a hands-on approach to supervillains. They have somehow managed to avoid each other for decades, but this particular setup is literally too perfect to waste. With Tombstone continuing to groom himself as New York’s next Godfather, a thrilling game of chicken could ensue between these two boys from the block each at the top of their respective ladders. If Marvel isn’t setting this in motion already, they need to take notes, because Luke Cage deserves A-list storytelling with a Kingpin of his own—and Spider-Man has plenty villains to spare.

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