Harlem in the Marvel Universe

Harlem in the Marvel Universe


Welcome to Harlem

Harlem is a neighborhood in New York City.  In the Marvel universe it is best known as the home and stomping grounds of the hero, Luke Cage.

The poem "Harlem"
By poet Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

The Luke Cage Netflix Series opening theme opens by going through Marvel's Harlem:

Heroes associated with Harlem
Luke Cage - Born and raised in Harlem.  Joined the local gang the Rivals before becoming a hero.  As part of Heroes for Hire he has had many adventures in and around Harlem.

The Falcon - Sam Wilson-Sam Wilson grew up in Harlem.  His father was a local pastor who was killed by muggers.

Misty Knight - Owns a Harlem Condo with Iron Fist and has worked heavily throughout the area.  It is unclear if she was born in Harlem or somewhere else.

Iron Fist / Danny Rand - Owns a Condo with Misty Knight.  He was born in NYC but it is not clear where. As part of Heroes for Hire he has worked frequently in the area.

Another hero who has had adventures in Harlem is the Black Panther.  While known as an African hero, the Panther has spent time defending the streets the Harlem.

Harlem is a large neighborhood on the northern side of the borough of Manhattan

Points of Interest

    • Apollo Theater 

    •  Jackie Robinson Park

    • Abyssinian Baptist Church 

      Andrew Jackson High School


    The Great Migration: The events of the Civil War and Reconstruction through the late 1800s saw African Americans make huge gains, only to see them taken away.  Many educated African Americans sought opportunities away from the South.  They were drawn to Northern cities often for economic reasons as well as to escape the Jim Crow laws.  These led to a Great Migration from the South to the industrialized cities of the North.  While, African Americans still faced racism in the North, it was less institutionalized than in the South. In the early 1900s, Harlem began attracting many of these African American migrants, as well as Black immigrants from the Caribbean.

    Artistic Rendition of the Harlem Renaissance
    Harlem Renaissance 1920-1930: In the 1920s Harlem became a predominantly African American neighborhood and remained that way through 2008.  In 2008 Census figures showed that for the first time in nearly a century that African Americans did not make up the majority in the neighborhood.  The neighborhood was the epicenter of a variety of artistic movements that are often combined and referred to as the Harlem Renaissance.  The Renaissance featured a variety of black Enlightenment styled intellectuals like Alain Locke and W.E.B. Du Bois.  Musically, Harlem was home to the Apollo club that often featured some of the best Jazz acts of the day including Fats Waller and Duke Ellington.

    Marvel Comics: 
     Sam Wilson the Falcon known for teaming up with Captain America traces his roots back to Harlem but his adventures tended to carry him away from his old neighborhood.  Sam's father was a local paster and always sought peaceful solutions in the often rough neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Sam's father met his end in street violence.  Sam would go on to battle the local crime lord Stoneface and moved him out of power.

    Harlem became the central battle ground for the hero for hire, Luke Cage in the 1970s.  Luke battled social and racial injustice as well as super villains all while trying to make a living as a hero for hire. Many of Cage's adversaries were members of his former Harlem gang the Rivals.

    Iron Fist and Misty Knight moved into Harlem as part of Luke Cage's  growing "Heroes for Hire" operation.  The two had many adventures within the neighborhood, and eventually bought a condo together there.

    Pictures in Marvel of Harlem:




    Harlem Renaissance as depicted in Luke Cage Noir


    Real life photos of Harlem

    Overhead view of Harlem

    Apollo Theater showing Duke Ellington

    Stray dog and man walking by abandoned building in Harlem

    Soldier getting his shoes shined in Harlem

    Villains of Harlem

    Who is Chemistro?

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    Who is Comanche?

     Who is Shades?

    Who is Cock Roach Hamilton?

    Who is Spear?

    Who is Cornell Cottonmouth?

    Who is Nightshade?

    Earth in the Marvel Universe
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    The road to Strange - Doctor Strange comics


    One book on the shelf really caught my eye and that is the Doctor Strange annual.  It has a great cover and a very interesting story.

    Fresh off the magical beating Doctor Strange took in the end of magic event that has just finished rolling through his comics, he is now faced by a foe.  This foe used to be an old love which as everyone knows is going to make it a whole lot worse!  Clea returns who is one of my favorite characters but she is out to get Strange.

    Also to be featured is the Sorcerers Supreme which is a collection of all the Sorcerers Supreme throughout the ages battling an enemy that attacks them each in their own time.  This means we will Sorcerers like Merlin, a young ancient one, and a future Wiccan.

    Publish Date: September 28th, 2016

    Marvel Synopsis
    Clea comes back into Doctor Strange’s life as he’s picking up the pieces from the worst beating he’s ever taken. Clea’s going to make that battle look like a walk in the park. Also in this issue… WHO ARE THE SORCERERS SUPREME?!

    Doctor Strange #6

    The road to Strange - Marvel Comic Magic Mega Event coming!

    A new Doctor Strange self titled series began earlier this year.  It was the first self titled series in over a decade.  The launch of Strange is no accident the film of Doctor Strange is being filmed right now and Marvel wants to help create new fans of the sorcerer supreme for his big movie.

    Marvel will not be content with a simple series though they are going to create a big event this Spring.
    Solicitations for Doctor Strange mention The Last Days of Magic,  Hercules #5 mentions the death of Myths, and Scarlet Witch has had a running story about threats to Witch Craft.

    A mysterious enemy was mentioned in Doctor Strange #1 that was causing magical entities to flee its wake, as a kind of harbinger for a big bad.

    I don't know exactly what Marvel is planning but expect it to be cool!

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    What was in the Box? Agents of SHIELD

    Agents of SHIELD gif

    There was a box that was opened by a group of chinese smugglers.  The box called itself a breath of fresh air.  Once opened the box released a gas or an airborn agent of some kind and the gangsters began seeing themselves as monsters.  Previously men were found that had been exposed that literally torn each other apart.

    Agent May was also exposed and saw a ghost like figure walk past.

    What is Box?  or maybe the real question is What was in the box?

    It seems clear that the show wants to add supernatural elements to the MCU in part to tie into Doctor Strange and the Ghost Rider addition to the show.

    Jeb Whedon was asked at the Premiere about what was in the box and he said its something along the lines of the supernatural elements, "Something we can't tell you, but something along those lines."  What can be gleaned from this is that its supernatural and an important subplot that the show will continue to explore.

    Spoilers Spoilers

    Is there anything like this in the comics.

    Theory One - The Devil's Breath
    One thing that jumped to my mind was the Devil's Breath agent that was used by Spider-Man Villain Mister Negative to kill various gangsters.  The Devil's Breath would kill anyone of a certain blood line making it a perfect weapon to use against a familial organization like the Maggia Crime Family.  Mister Negative later programs it through blood to kill Spider-Man.

    The box though did not seem to work like the Devil's Breath at all.  It was an airborn agent and it did come by way of asian gangsters like the Devil's Breath but otherwise seems very different.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Theory 2 Another Spirit of Vengeance:

    Ghost Rider's powers are from attached to a spirit.  The first Ghost Rider was attached to a Spirit of Vengeance.  The Spirit of Vengeance was combination of demon called Zaranthos and other spirits who had locked into a battle aons ago and eventually merged.

    One though is that the ghost in the box is a Spirit of Vengeance and perhaps now May will gain supernatural powers from it.  My reasoning here is that the show keeps promoting Spirit of Vengeance even though the Ghost Rider they are using does not actually use a Spirit of Vengeance.  He uses a spirit from a dead serial killer uncle.  Keep in mind that was just in the comic version of Robbie Reyes and it is very possible that in the show they have altered this and Robbie Reyes is connected to an actual Spirit of Vengeance.

    If it was the ghost in the box Spirit of Vengeance it would help tie the Box to the Ghost Rider and also help explain what he is.  It would also tie the Agents to the Ghost Rider with another connection.

    One indication that the ghost may work like this is the fact that the gangsters seem more affected by it than May.  It could be that it preys on bad people and not good ones.

    Theory 3 Lilith
    One idea is that the ghost woman could be the mother of demons Lilith.  Problems with this theory are that Lilith does not appear as a human female ghost.
    Lilith is a common foe of Ghost Rider and supernatural so those two things are going toward this theory but so far not much else.

    Theory 4:  (Actual )

    The experiments on Dark Energy that were depicted in Agent Carter seemingly continued.  At some point a group of people were shifted with Dark Dimension energy and thus phased between our dimension and the Dark Dimension.  They then look like ghosts.  These people were trapped in containment cells for many years.  The box that was opened was from one of these containment units.

    The people who were inbued with Dark Energy in Agent Carter were shown to occasionally hear a voice.
    This voice is believed to be the voice of Doctor Strange villain Dormammu.  Agents of SHIELD seems to be laying additional ground work for the film Doctor Strange.  It also seems that the Dark Dimension and Dormammu will surely be part of the film even if they have not yet been depicted in previews.

    Dormammu SHIELD File

    Other Magical Items?
    Right now I'm drawing a blank as a magical Marvel item that works like this.  Let me know if you can think of anything in the comments and I will credit you as a source.

    Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, and Mephisto connections?

    There are three characters with supernatural origins that are said to have a big impact on stories throughout the MCU and likely the box what ever is has a connection to one of them.  We are talking about Mephisto, Doctor Strange and of course Ghost Rider.

    One other thought is that a being from the Dark Dimension may explain the dark spots under peoples eyes are exposed to it.  Similar to how magical villain Kaecilius has the dark breaking skin under his eyes in images from Doctor Strange.

    Shop Agents of SHIELD

    Warning: Classified SHIELD Files below:

    Marvels Agent of Shield speculation HUB

    FROM THE VAULT - Nova 19 - First appearance of Blackout


    Nova #13 
     Nova Series 1
    Published in May 1978
    Writer: Marv Wolfman
    Artist: Carmine Infantino

     I was organizing some comics and I randomly came across this Nova 13.  This is not a very valuable comic you can likely find a descent copy of it for around $10 on Ebay.  It does however have on interesting aspect it is the first appearance of the villain Blackout!!!!!

    That is right the first appearance, first origin story and first super powered battle of Blackout is right here!!!!!!!!!!!

    Likely you are saying "Who on Earth is Blackout?"

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    You will be forgiven for not knowing who Blackout is.  He is a fairly obscure villain who has made mostly cameo background appearances over the past decade.  Despite his obscurity Blackout is a powerful villain capable of single-handedly defeating the Avengers.  The character is about to get some serious airtime on Agent's of SHIELD.  Apparently, he will be hunting down the cellist love interest of Caulson in the episode "The Only Light in the Darkness".  Keep in mind that cellist has now been mentioned in multiple movies and episodes of Agents of SHIELD so finally meeting her is a fairly big deal.  In the Episode "Providence" we see Blackout escape the fridge after Ward and Garrett breakout the villains from the facility.  Garrett tells Blackout to follow his dreams.

    Blackout on Agents of SHIELD played by Patrick Brennan
    Blackout is coming for her, yes I would be scared too!

     Summary of Nova 13
    Richard Rider is a young teenage, coward with powers of Nova.  He is flying to school when he randomly runs into Blackout.  Blackout almost immediately kicks his butt.  Blackout is paranoid that Nova was sent to stop him from his "goals."  While, this version of Nova is kind of a wuss he still has the powers of Nova a fairly powerful Superhero.  The fact that Blackout can take him down so easily says a lot about his powerlevel and skills.
    Blackout uses black light beams to zap, choke and basically full on beat down Rider Nova is bullet proof but the freezing black light beams seem to instantly incapacitate Nova.
    Blackout is primarily focused on getting revenge on his former partner/boss Croit, who is a sceintist that specializes in black energy.  Blacklight believes that Croit coerced him into being experimented on which filled him full of the energy of a blackstar.  For some reason Blackout requires a stabilizer unit that holds his atoms together that Croit has in his lab. He thinks that Croit will extort him further if he continues to hold the stabilizer.   The Stabilizer helps keep him together in this dimension and is thus a critical part of him staying alive.
    Blackout's goal when he runs into Nova is to hunt down Croit and acquire the Stabilizer.


    Nova pretty much gets his butt kicked and is nearly killed by Blackout.  The only thing that saves Richard Rider is that Blackout is in a hurry. He really wants that Stabilizer.  He leaves Rider in a cube of black energy in which Nova will eventually suffocate.  However, left alone Rider manages to wiggle out from the cube.


    In the end of the book Blackout kills Croit by pushing him into the dark dimension from where he gains his powers.  He then takes the stabilizer unit that he wanted. 

    The Future of Blackout
    Later on we will learn that this is not true that he is in fact crazy and Croit really wanted to cure him.  Apparently, Blackout is some how imbued with a Darkforce that is nearly unlimited and it makes him nuts.  The suit he wears was developed by Croit and allows the Blackout to control the Black force eminating from his body. 
    Later on Blackout will be beaten by Nova but then return as a pawn of Baron Zemo and Moondragon.  He is basically mind controlled by them and begins to force the Avengers mansion into a different dimension.  Lucky for the Avengers they are able to convince them that his actions are wrong and he turns on Zemo.   He will seemingly die.

    A character that looks like Blackout will return and show up in cameos in the storyline the Seige.  It is unclear who this Blackout is.

    I think the character has some potential and am excited to see him on TV who knows maybe if his television version is successful we will see more of him in the comics.

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    Whitney Frost pictures from Agent Carter

    Whitney Frost pictures from Agent Carter

    Whitney Frost is the primary villain of Agent Carter season 2.  Whitney Frost is based off the comic character Madame Masque.   In Agent Carter, Whitney Frost is filled with a element from the dark dimension called Zero Matter.  This gives her special reality warping powers.

    When first infected with the Zero Matter, Whitney develops a small black scar on her forehead.  As she uses her powers the scar continues to grow.

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    Who is Black Mariah?


    Who is Black Mariah?

    Black Mariah is a Marvel villain known for battling the hero Luke Cage.  Black Mariah will be villain faced by Luke Cage during the Netflix Luke Cage series.   Actress Alfre Woodard will play Black Mariah in the series.

    Real Name: Unrevealed

    First Appearance: Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #5 (1973)

    Who is Luke Cage aka Power Man?


    Black Mariah was an established drug lord in Chinatown and Harlem, NYC.  She appears early in Luke Cage's hero career and then again after he forms his partnership with Iron Fist.
    Black Mariah is a leader of a gang criminals who use converted ambulances and paddy wagons to kidnap or move people.  The name Black Mariah is a term for a paddy wagon and is where she gets her name.  There business was in covert moving of criminals or evidence as a kind of specialize crime cleaning service.  One of their more lucrative schemes was to cart of the bodies of wealthy people who die in public spaces and use the corpse's keys to access their homes and steal their valuables before anyone even knew they were dead.

    Luke Cage is hired to find the body of a man named Frank Jenks by his widow.  Frank has been one of the corpses taken by Black Mariah's group.  Luke Cage hunted down the group and beat up Black Mariah's thugs.  Due to Luke being at first unwilling to strike a woman, he takes a lot of punishment from Mariah.  However, she is unable to do serious harm to the nearly invulnerable hero.  She eventually gives up and tries to take off in a boat.  Luke jumps and capsizes the boat leaving Mariah floating in the bay.

    (Events  from Powerman and Iron Fist #88)

    Black Mariah would later return to harass Cage and his new partner Iron Fist.  Mariah had joined the dope business in China town and had new Chinese thugs and connections.  She also had with a new Halwani henchmen named Scimitar.  She began selling a drug called Acid Z that would cause users to go crazy before killing them in a few hours
    Iron Fist is spotted outside one her bases and she sends her new Chinese thugs to, "cut his heart out".
    Iron Fist fights his way through her thugs, and defeats Scimitar.  However, he overlooks Black Mariah.  She stabs him with drugged sewing needles.  The drugs barely allow Iron Fist to maintain consciousness and Mariah knocks him out.  She tosses him off the roof.  Lucky for Iron Fist he is caught by his partner Luke Cage.  Cage then proceeds to take down Scimitar and Mariah.  He throws a lamp post through a van they are attempting to use to escape. 

    These are the only appearances I know of Black Mariah.


    Very strong but not super strength

    Also known for using poisions and drugs on sewing needles

    Luke Cage Netflix Series

    Actress Alfre Woodard will play Black Mariah in the Luke Cage Netflix series.  It sounds like her version will be tweeked and Black Mariah will be named Minetta and will be politically powerful drug dealer and criminal in the community.   
    Mariah's connections with the Chinese gangsters may help the series connect to Madame Gao's aka Mother Crane's organization in the Daredevil season series.

    It is said that she will be a cousin of the other main series villain Cornell Cottonmouth.  It seems like she will use her legit political power to cover up for the criminal enterprise of her cousin.

    New Promo Poster of Black Mariah:

    Pictures of Alfre Woodard as Black Mariah:

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    Harlem in the Marvel Universe

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    X-Men Apocalypse end credit meaning - Spoilers

    Warning if you have not seen X-Men Apocalypse this brief post does contain spoilers.




    The meaning behind the X-Men Apocalypse end credit scene is simple it hints at the arrival of the next X villain.  The scene is very short and many may think it does not say or do much.   There is enough here though to draw some powerful conclusions.

    This scene takes place after Wolverine's breakout from a facility.  There is a figure shown in the scene who has an old brief case that says Essex Corp.  The man is retrieving the blood of Wolverine and places this sample among other samples. In the comic world the name Essex means Nathaniel Essex.   Who is more well known as the immortal X-Man villain known as Mister Sinister.  Generally what ever he is planning on doing with the blood is not good.

    Who is Mister Sinister?

    It is currently unclear if there will be an actual X-Men film in this continuity again.  What is known is there will be a Wolverine 3.  This is kind of interesting because I tend to think of Mister Sinister as being more of a X-Men, Cyclops, Jean Grey villain than a Wolverine villain.  However, Sinister is a genius mad scientist who has created many other villains and he also worked as part of Weapon X.  He has also worked with the groups the Nasty Boys and the Marauders.

    Characters who could have a Apocalypse/ Mister Sinister/Weapon X/Nasty Boys/ Maruaders links:
    • X-23
    • Daken
    • Cyber
    • X-Man
    • Cable
    • Threnody
    • Gambit
    • Mystique
    • Omega Sentinel
    • Sabretooth
    • The Marauders
      • Aries
      • Azimuth
      • Chimera
      • Coda
      • Arclight
      • Blockbuster
    • The Nasty Boys
      • Slab
      • Gorgeous George
      • Hairbag
      • Ramrod
      • Ruckus
      • Harpoon
      • Piper
      • Hans
      • Lady Mastermind
      • Malice
      • Riptide
      • Prism
      • Scalphunter
      • Scrambler
      • Sunfire
      • Vanisher
      • Vertigo
    I feel strongly that X23 in particular strikes me as a potential villain for Wolverine 3.   This would also allow for Hugh Jackman to be replaced in future films.  The fact that Sinister was interested in the blood of Wolverine seems to make X-23 even more likely.

    There is also a theory out there that the film Mister Sinister will be changed to be more ancient that his comic version.  This theory goes that Mister Sinister is actually one of the original Horseman of Apocalypse who has been fighting for Apocalypse since ancient times.  This theory is based upon a clip in X-Men Apocalypse where there is an acolyte who has the pale complexion of Mister Sinister hovering over Apocalypse.

    Mister Sinister standing over Apocalypse?

    Want to own X-Men Apocalypse yourself?  Get it through Amazon on the link below.  Toylab is happy to bring you this deal as we are part of the Amazon Affiliate Program.

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