How Luke Cage Became the Superhero Face of CTE

Comics writer Anthony Del Col explains why the street-level hero with unbreakable skin has met his ultimate match in the degenerative condition.

As you’ll know from reading virtually any article around sports injuries in recent years, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — more commonly known as CTE — is a degenerative brain disease caused by concussions and head injuries. It’s an affliction that particularly plagues the NFL, although the league’s leadership rather conspicuously prefers not to acknowledge the extent of the problem. Still, litigation is occurring at every level of the sport, including high school and youth leagues.

Despite the wide range of potential ramifications — from potential cures with cannabis to links between the disease and acts of violence — medical researchers have struggled to find funding. This is perhaps partly explained by the public’s general ignorance of the topic: Outside of sports coverage and the 2015 film Concussion, the condition has gained very little cultural awareness.

Enter Anthony Del Col, best-selling author and comic book writer, who, in a creative twist, has introduced CTE as the ultimate supervillain foe in his current title, Luke Cage: Everyman, which is digitally available at ComiXology and Marvel Unlimited now. (A print edition will be released in November.) I recently spoke to Del Col about CTE, the NFL and how the character formerly known as Power Man became the perfect vehicle for such a story.

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