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Returning to His Roots

May 5, 2010

     For the first time in a while, Luke Cage gets a real solo adventure.  It is under the Avengers umbrella, based on his membership in the New Avengers, but it’s his story.  In New Avengers: Luke Cage #1, Cage, Spider-Man, and Ronin take out some strange hippo supervillain.  He talks to Jessica Jones about a phone call she got from an old acquantaince of his who needs his help.  Seems some kid from his past tried to be like him and set up a “Hero-for-Hire” business.  Then got beaten up really badly.  Cage convinces Jessica that he has to go, and he travels to Philadelphia to check things out.  When he finds the kid’s office in a bad part of Philadelphia, he’s randomly attacked by Hammerhead.  He manages to beat Hammerhead, who says something about this being Mr. Negative’s turf, and some weird stuff about the kid.  Hammerhead runs away when the cops come, then contacts his boss about his failure.  Mr. Negative isn’t that upset, saying that Philadelphia will always be there, but something about what they say indicates that this kid might not have just been trying to emulate Cage.  Cage goes to the hospital to visit the kid, and the kid says that he deserved much worse than what he got.

     Obviously, there’s stuff we don’t know about here.  Stuff we don’t know about this kid and what he really did and how that relates to Mr. Negative.  But we’ll get to learn about that in the next issue.  At any rate, John Arcudi does some good work here.  Admittedly, the story structure is a tad formulaic, but not only do we get more backstory for Cage, but we get some really great interaction between Jessica and him.  It’s a well-constructed story that really reminds us of where Cage came from and how far he’s come since then.  The artist, Eric Canete, is really very stylized.  During the fight scenes, that comes out really well, as he manages to make everything really dynamic and charge every panel with kinetic energy.  However, other things don’t look so good.  For one, both Cage and Hammerhead have a gap in their front teeth that appears and disappears all the time.  And Canete’s rendition of Cage looks ridiculous.  Case in point, the cover.  For some reason, Cage has a bunch of bullet holes in him.  More importantly, his veins are freaking huge, and his neck muscles look more like bones than muscles.  Plus, his neck is as long as his head is tall.  And he looks like that in just about every panel.  Again, super stylized.  Just doesn’t work that well with Cage.  This is a fun if unimportant story with the potential to give us a non-Brian Michael Bendis view of one of the main members of the Avengers nowadays.  I just hope that Cage’s ridiculous neck doesn’t rear its ugly face too often.  It’s very distracting.

Plot: 7.7      Art: 7.5      Dialogue: 8.6      Overall: 7.7

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