Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1

Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Tradd Moore

It's easy to not expect anything from this comic.  Two creators that I'm not familiar with are crafting a six-issue mini-series about an unhappy, geeky, skinny kid who sends away for a Charles Atlas-style booklet, and gains superpowers.  It's pretty much a cliché, right?  I wasn't going to get this book, but then I heard some positive buzz around it, and liked the art when I flipped through it at the store.

It's really a very good comic.  Sure, all of the elements that I mentioned above are overly familiar to anyone who's been reading comics for some time (or even just their ads), but Jordan is doing a few interesting things with it to make it stand out.

To begin with, he's leaving things for the reader to pick up on.  That Luther's mother is the victim of some sort of domestic abuse is an interesting element to the story, especially since it's not really explained.  Likewise, Luther's confusing relationship with Petra needs more screen time, because it is a little unconventional.

Clearly, the powers that Luther has tapped into by reading about the 'Hercules Method' will lead to trouble beyond practically knocking the head off the school bully.  There are a group of guys in chains, speaking with someone they call the Librarian, about a new potential candidate.  Later, this Librarian is shown on a boat, obviously coming to find Luther.

There are a few elements here which don't really make a lot of sense.  First, we have the overly erudite school jock, a figure which really only exists in comics these days (at least he's not as poorly written as Ronnie Raymond in last week's Firestorm #1).  Also, people still mail order from comic book ads?  Why doesn't the Hercules Method have a website?

What makes this book work is the way it mashes together influences like Kick-Ass, Invincible, Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, and Flex Mentallo.  The art is squarely in the Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, especially when the blood gets flowing.  I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and will stick around for the rest of the mini-series.

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