Publisher: Marvel Studios
Writer: David F. Walker
Artwork: Nelson Blake II, Marcio Menyz (colours)
Last year, Luke Cage went solo once again with a brand new series from writer David F. Walker and artist Nelson Blake II. The first arc, “Sins of the Fathers”, saw Luke traveling to New Orleans to attend the funeral of the man who gave him his powers, Dr. Noah Burstein, and being drawn into a mysterious conspiracy – and a forced partnership with the borderline psychotic Warhawk – in the process.
There’s no denying that Walker writes a great Luke Cage, and Warhawk is an amusing comic foil at times, but a lot of the early storyline feels a little stagnant and by-the-numbers, complete with a Russian nesting doll of villain reveals, each more underwhelming than the last.
It’s definitely an interesting idea to dig a little deeper into the origin of Cage’s powers, but Walker’s story feels like it focuses a little too heavily on the supporting cast of failed experiments left over from Burstein’s attempts to recreate his success with Cage, rather than on the man himself. It’s all perfectly serviceable stuff, but for the most part there’s nothing here that really leaps off the page, and if I wasn’t already reading the trade paperback, I’m not sure there would be enough here to make me pick up any new issues.
That said, things do pick up considerably in the last couple of chapters with the introduction of Kevlar, a youngster with a similar history to Cage himself. There’s also a bit of forced introspection from Cage, which adds some much-needed depth to the proceedings and creates a welcome diversion from all the cookie-cutter bad-guys and Sweet Christmases.
Nelson Blake II’s artwork, while fundamentally sound, is also more than a little sterile at times, particularly during the action scenes. There’s no real sense of impact or movement, which is definitely a bit of a drawback for a series which relies so heavily on its action sequences to move the story forwards. There are some enjoyable moments along the way, with Blake’s style making the book look a little like a Luke Cage animated series at times, but for a series where the story is so safe and unambitious, it’s doubly disappointing that the art is too.
Perhaps if I was a bigger Luke Cage fan I would have gotten a little more out of this series. Yes, there are some satisfying action beats and the story does end on a promising note, but the whole thing feels more than a little restrained, like Walker and Blake are holding back for some reason, making this a difficult book for me to get too excited about. Well worth a look of you’re a die-hard Cage fan, but unlikely to win you over if you aren’t.
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