More Twenties Action North of 125th Street!

"Luke Cage: Noir" #3 of 4 from Marvel Comics

This issue re-kindled and re-affirmed my love for this series. The 'villains' (such as they are) took a quick backseat to the character-driven story elements. As it should be. (Indeed, the two have been merged as we now see in flashback that all three of the introduced villains were present at the defining moment of Luke's life.) Martinbrough's art continues to be gorgeous, while built on clear and subtle story-telling. And it's badass.

I have been saying for years (and I'm sure I'm not alone; nor am I original in this, goes back to Aristotle I think) that a good work of art should be made up of good parts, a balance between each of those having autonomy and each being merely parts of the whole. A good movie should have scenes that should fly by themselves as good short films and a good comic should have pages that should fly by themselves as good one-pagers. This issue was full of them.

(Check out this great scene in which Luke sets a trap for his childhood-friend turned greedy mob boss out to kill him. Stryker is too late to stop his henchman from striking a match after he sees the literal 'writing on the wall' and the gas-lamp.)

It's also been a great deal of fun for me as a recently minted New Yorker to see all the references to New York City locales and borders. So "downtown" to a black man in the Nineteen-Twenties would of course be "south of 125th street", i.e. below the lowest street in Harlem. The land of the "offay", the white man.

But maybe the best part? The flashbacks are coming together fairly well! Finally! We can now see a chronology of the story. And it's awesome. We now see that the populace of Harlem's belief in Luke Cage's invulnerability may be greatly mistaken... or is it? We still have yet to see Luke take a bullet straight on. (Excepting the first issue's exciting cover, an image not strictly part of the story.)

If you're a Marvel fan, you know what the answer to that question is probably going to be based on the superpowers of the main 616 continuity version of the character running around since 1972, but I'm not sure that in this new NOIR version of the Marvel universe, Mike Benson and Adam Glass might not be going for something different. The fourth issue will tell, I'm sure, and I can't wait! I'm really enjoying this.

The end left a bit to be desired. It looks like we're taking another bit of a left turn, but I thought that about the end of the first issue and enjoyed the second one nonetheless.

This series is going from great to excellent before my eyes! Although, I'm saddened at the realization that this may read better as a 'serialized graphic novel' than a mini-series. A minor distinction, yes. But basically it means I may not be able to stop myself from buying it again in hardcover... And the mini-series is a dying breed.

Still, it's worth your money.

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