Comic Book Review: Luke Cage #3
David F. Walker and Nelson Blake II’s journey into Luke Cage’s past continues with “Luke Cage” #3. In just three issues, this has become one of Marvel’s finest ongoing series by taking a unique look at Luke’s origin and how he got his powers. “Luke Cage” #3 delivers actions and some strong twists and turns.
In “Luke Cage” #3, Luke has finally made it to Mateo Corello’s house but when he gets there, he and Mitchell Tanner are met by Mateo’s dead body hitting their car’s windshield. Frankie has lost control and after killing his father, has begun to lash out at everyone. Mitchell, who’s similar to Frankie in that he has this same kind of mean streak, fights him back. The aftermath of this fight leaves everyone reeling as Luke begins to put together the snippets of information he’s been given and a big twist shows itself and leaves us with a hell of a cliffhanger.
“Luke Cage” #3 feels a lot longer than it is and that’s a great thing. The pacing of this issue is excellent as Walker makes great use of narration and flashbacks that tie directly to the events we see unfolding. The thing about this story so far is that Luke Cage has very purposely been played and because of this, he’s spent a lot of time not feeling like the direct focus of all this. He’s without a doubt a major player in all of this but the effects of what Burstein has done have been felt throughout this city and community. It’s hard to ignore the fact that after Hurricane Katrina, the Ninth Ward got a lot of attention for about 5 seconds and then was ignored soon after. Lives were destroyed by this storm and the lack of any government intervention in actually helping these people allowed for them to all be taken advantage of by the media, real estate developers and even less reputable non profits. Burstein fills this role and even though Luke turned out “right” (whatever that means for Burstein) it’s still hard to ignore that he’s done a lot of harm to a lot of men in this community.
One of the other things that stands out a lot about this issue is the way that Luke begins to put together what he’s seeing. Blake II does a fantastic job on art drawing a sort of exasperated Luke all while showing us that the wheels are turning in his head. Luke Cage is no idiot. He’s worked as a hero for long enough to realize that something else is going on here and so, throughout this issue Blake II shows us Luke’s physical side and his intelligence through some great character rendering. His facial expressions and physical reactions are fantastic. The action in “Luke Cage” #3 is also some of the best I’ve seen in a recent Marvel comic. Every move is deliberate and shows off everyone’s abilities really well. Blake II shows the strength of Luke and Mitchell but in later pages, shows off his ability to create something akin to a television drama with some of the things that unfold with other characters. The color work from Marcio Menyz is the perfect compliment to Blake II’s art. It’s not drowning out the line work and there’s a softness in this work at times that makes “Luke Cage” feel different from other stories featuring this character. Menyz can do the almost noir kind of thing when it’s called for but doesn’t soak the book in darkness.
“Luke Cage” #3 is another strong step in the right direction for a series that deserves far more attention. This has been a very personal story for Luke that has examined his origin and the impact of Burstein’s work in a really intriguing and wide ranging way.