Just in time for the hit Netflix TV show is Marvel’s stand alone Luke Cage comic, which has stirred up some controversy, but it’s here and we’re reviewing it. Is it good?
Cage #1 (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The Marvel summary reads:
From the Award-Winning creator of Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Hotel Transylvania! On the mean streets of Harlem, shoes are big, shirts are large, bottoms are belled and crime is rampant! But in the heart of the city, the world’s hardest-working, smack-talking, chain-wearing super hero is on the street and on the case! And his rates are reasonable! He’s CAGE! and he’ll save your behind. Dig it!
Why does this book matter?
Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) writes and draws this so you know it’s going to be fun. This isn’t a serious take on the character by any means, but intended to be funny. That’s rad, in part because that type of comic is typically reserved for Deadpool titles at Marvel. Plus, you can’t deny Tartovsky’s style isn’t the most kinetic and unique looking stuff since Ren and Stimpy.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
How do you not love these sound effects.
You can tell from the very first page Tartakovsky understands how to tell a visual story. We cut from a shot of the city, to two clothing styles of the 70’s, and then right to the action. In 4 wide panels we get a sense of the location, the people, and the state of crime. Combine all three and you better be begging for Cage to be popping up right quick. Every kick, stomp, slam and punch are rendered in a cartoony fun sort of way that’s fun and infectious.
The general story is fun too. Cage is basically trouncing through the issue kicking butt or trying to find Misty, but… things keep getting in his way. Heroes and villains alike get in his path and – due to an apparent temper – usually things break or get punched because of it. The humor is juvenile in a good way, from a character losing his clothes by being pulled through prison bars, to an over the top fat lady — you’re bound to chuckle at least a little bit. I found a scene involving a Marvel group of heroes was the funniest due to it making fun of a recurring trope for a character.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The story is quite simple and the issue itself is a very quick read. This is one of those books that requires you to come for the art more than the story and by the end it felt more like a fun backup than a satisfying full issue. This is in part due to layouts which sometimes call for only 3 panels per page. Though each panel is filled with energy that never really slows down, the lower panels per page does slow down the overall pace.
As a comedic book, Cage #1 is also completely void of character work. If anything, Cage comes off as kind of a jerk. He’s heroic because he can be, but his personality makes him not the easiest to like.
The quiet look at the basketball hoop is pretty funny.
Is It Good?
Though untethered from the show or the main comics, Cage #1 is a lot of fun with expressive and kinetic art and plenty of chuckle worthy moments.