Luke Cage is the second digital original comic to arrive from Marvel Comics and it continues the trend of lengthier “bing” reading. The first was focused on Jessica Jones, which we loved, and this book is similar in how it approached the character in a real and meaningful way. At 47 pages this book digs deep into the story revealing a weakness of Luke Cage you might not see coming.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
With Harlem in the grips of an unprecedented heat wave, the people look to their hero–the unbreakable man, Luke Cage! But the heat wave turns out to be the least of Harlem’s worries. Someone has their sights set on the city’s 1%, and the rich and powerful are dropping dead from mysterious illnesses. It’s up to Luke Cage to stop the killer–but he’s just received a grim diagnosis of his own…
Why does this matter?
This issue is not only about Luke Cage but about the community around him in Harlem. That’s an important factor with this character, but underneath it all lies an important message too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Anthony Del Col writes the script for this issue, which drops us into Harlem on a hot summer day and quickly ramps up the complications in front of Cage from there. Del Col utilizes Cage’s daughter well, who is a bit older and has come down with a cold. It appears being sick is a major element of this first installment as not only is Cage’s daughter sick, but people are ending up dying from some mysterious bug. As the story progresses Cage takes on the case, gets the news he has a sickness of his own, and eventually gets closer to the punk who is offering important political figures in Harlem.
I don’t want to spoil what sickness Cage has, but it’s an admirable choice for the character since it can possibly help folks learn a bit more about the disease. It’s also a logical ailment for Cage that adds up. How he’ll move on from this one is a mystery, which drives the narrative in the second half of the book.
Jahnoy Lindsay draws in a style that suits the street level drama. Most of this book is normal folks chatting in normal locations and it suits this sort of narrative. It’s believable and sharp at the same time. It also keeps the drama moving along when the dialogue can be lengthier.
It can’t be perfect can it?
At 40 plus pages, I was hoping for a little more meat on this story. As it stands I could see this reading a bit sharper within 30 pages, but the extended page count makes the story move at a slower pace. It’s very light on action, especially for a superhero book, and while each of the two parts has some fighting, that’s really not what this book is about. That said, the lack of direct conflict for Cage personally loses me here. Part of the reason I felt a bit bored reading this is because there’s no personal conflict for Cage to deal with that is directly connected to the villain. There are two conflicts running concurrently, but I was never invested in his motivation to help the folks who are turning up dead. I suspect there may be a correlation in future installments, though.
Is it good?
A good first chapter that introduces a compelling weakness for Cage to overcome — a weakness that seems insurmountable, which makes this even more intriguing. As it stands though, the pace of the book is slow and it hasn’t reached a point where you’ll care all that much about the main plot involving the villains.