Luke Cage, an escaped convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin, keeps a low profile as a sweeper at ex-gangster Henry "Pop" Hunter's barbershop, and as a dishwasher at crime boss Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes' nightclub Harlem's Paradise. Cage spends one night as a bartender for Stokes, filling in for Dante, who calls in sick. Dante is actually shooting up an arms deal between Stokes' men and gang leader Domingo Colon with his friends Shameek and Wilfredo "Chico" Diaz. Dante panics and is killed by Shameek, who escapes with Chico and the money. NYPD detectives Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe investigate, and impound the Hammer Industries weapons that Stokes was selling. With help from "Shades" Alvarez, who works for Stokes' supplier Diamondback, Stokes tracks and kills Shameek and retrieves his share of the money. Stokes' men also support his cousin Mariah Dillard, a councilwoman, and demand contributions to her cause from Cage's landlords. Cage fights them off, but refuses payment for his actions.

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