Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Noir Caged

Today I will be reviewing and going through another comic book graphic novel that I recently got the chance to read through, this one is another in Marvel comics Noir series. The Noir series takes all the well known heroes of our time, like Spider-man and the X-Men and places them in the backdrop of the 1940's with many familiar theme of films and stories of the time. I decided to read one of the lesser known heroes in the Marvel universe, Luke Cage the Power Man. I thought it would be an interesting read, after all the Luke Cage stories I've read have been Daredevil or New Avengers related stories, so it interest me having him here as the stand alone hero in this story. Luke Cage Noir is a collection of all four volumes, the book also has character concepts and the variant covers as well. To catch everyone up with the story, this is the description here...

"A lot can change in ten years. And rarely for the better. Local legend, Luke Cage, invincible, unstoppable, unflappable, finds that out the hard way when he returns to the mean streets of Prohibition-era Harlem after a ten-year stretch in Riker’s Island. All he wants is to be back in the loving arms of his woman, but certain powerful men have different plans for Cage. Willis Stryker, Cage’s childhood friend turned Godfather of Harlem, wants him on his crew, and under his thumb. And wealthy white socialite Randall Banticoff, whose wife is now very dead, murdered in a Harlem alley, wants Cage to investigate her death. Cage is about to learn that coming home is never easy, and to survive he might just have to kill a whole lot of people

It's been awhile since I've read a detective kind of thriller, let alone read one. I thought it was great taking a big character who relies on strength and being indestructible, and instead make him uses his street smarts and knowledge to solve the mystery at hand. Instead of Hulking the crap out of the city. This gives a lot more depth to Luke Cage, as he pieces everything together and sees what was being hidden from him after all the years in prison. But that doesn't mean he doesn't kick some ass and takes some names as well. A lot of "holy crap" moments go down in this book, especially in the last volume. You realize that the mystery becomes a lot more personal to Cage, and soon it becomes a tale of revenge, and boy is revenge served hard. 

The writing is an absolute treat, with a lot of dialogue properly taken from the time and place, giving it a very authentic feel to it. I enjoyed greatly the narration and the pace, everything coming full circle in four volumes and I didn't feel as if anything wasn't explained or any missing links. A lot of themes and ideas on race and class are also explored through out the tale, which gives the story a lot more substance. I like the fact that this story was properly handled, this could have been a write off but writer team, Mike Benson and Adam Glass, took great care of this tale and made it work on my different levels. To say Luke Cage fits well in the Noir universe is an understatement, it feels like he was made for this world. The art is very complementary of the time as well, very bleak and dark tones used to give the story great setting and atmosphere as well. The city looks authentically 1940's Harlem, and plays a great importance as the backdrop to the entire plot. Shawn Martinbrough, handles all the character designs and revisions really well, a great job on Tombstone especially. One look and I knew exactly who it was. And a lot of great covers for each volume, and especially some of the variant covers by Dennis Calero. Makes me want to find these in store for the covers alone. 

Of course if I had to complain about one thing here, is that it is very short all things considering. The fact is they didn't know how well received the Noir stories would be, but I felt that being only 4 volumes felt way too short. Yes, the story from start to finish makes sense and everything is wrapped up, but he could have taken another job or teamed up with the Noir Daredevil or even Iron Fist. It's a shame that there isn't more, and I wish Marvel would take more chances with these interesting concepts as well. Also, something in the end through me off, but I can't spoil that for you, so you got to read it to find out. But other than that a great collection and a step out of the regular comic book thing we read on a weekly basis. It won't cost you an arm and a leg, so if you find this book or the volumes, pick them up and give them a read, it's a great new flavour that needs to be tasted. Going to be looking for more these Marvel Noir books for sure.

Well that was the review for this week, got more coming soon in the near future. And by all means, if you have a good suggestion on a book to read send it my way in the comment section below. Going out to watch Man of Steel tonight, going to see how that goes and I will be posting my feelings on that tonight as well. Also we got a new episode of Time Well Spent coming up this week as well, so stay tuned for that. Until then, I will see you guys later!