Given the Netflix show and Genndy Tartakovsky’s recent Cage series it’s no wonder Marvel is producing a new Luke Cage series. That said, I’m still searching for that definitive book focused on the character and given the creators behind this series this might just be it.

Luke Cage #1
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Nelson Blake
Publisher: Marvel Comics

So what’s it about? Read our preview!

Why does this book matter?

It’s the first issue focused on a hero that plays a huge part in the Marvel Universe, in Secret Empire #2 and is showing up in June’s The Defenders. This series aims to shed some light on Cage’s past and his powers, which may change him forever.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Right off the bat, David F Walker’s writing makes Cage’s voice calm and clear. You get the sense instantly the guy’s harm-proof skin has given him the ability to never worry. He’s also seen a lot of s--t. The captions do well to capture his easy resolve, which play into the plot later in the issue very well. Opening with a kickass action scene (complete with a Oldboy style page layout), readers get a sense of Cage’s no nonsense demeanor. This leads to a shocking moment for Cage which sets the story into motion. Along the way Walker explores Cage’s feelings about the scientist who gave him his powers (a positive feeling which is different from the show) as well as the awkward exchange he has with a man close to the person Cage loses.

Great captions.

This exchange is an interesting one, as it shows a man who marvels at Cage, but also views him as a “thing”. The idea of race played into my interpretation of how Cage is feeling and it’s an interesting element tucked into the narrative.

Of course there’s plenty of action, which I think Nelson Blake hits out of the park. His lines are clean and simple, which end up doing more work with less. Cage learning about a friend dying for instance shows the emotional downer Cage goes through in 3 simple panels that grow darker. His general body language and calm is exhibited in the simplest of ways. The Oldboy style layout is also a highlight, and shows how Blake can play with the medium in cool ways.

A fantastic page!

It can’t be perfect can it?

Environments and backgrounds can be a tad sparse. There are moments where the lack of a background (all you get is a solid color) tend to amp up the apparent simplicity of the art, which can make a page look somewhat boring. It’s not so much it’s ineffective as less dynamic. It’s really only apparent in the closing action sequence, which doesn’t help the art much as it’s a by the numbers trope we’ve seen quite a lot.

There’s a good story here, but it does hit a few story beats we’ve seen time and time again. The closing action scene suffers due to the casual nature of the unknown bad guys showing up and ruining things. We’re left with questions, but we don’t know enough to care all that much. Funny business was had, but why Cage should care all that much is yet to be revealed.

Is It Good?

This is a good first issue that captures the calm demeanor and the voice of Cage impeccably well. Luke Cage isn’t just a superhero because he has powers, but because he has heart and that’s evident here.

Luke Cage #1
Is It Good?
A solid intro issue that sets up the character well.
Strong captions and writing of Cage captures the character perfectly
Sets up a story that may reveal new truths of Cage's past
Tight art, especially when it gets creative
There isn't quite enough here that doesn't feel already done