LUKE CAGE #2
Writers: David F. Walker
Penciller: Nelson Blake II
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release Date: 6/21/17
Luke discovered that Dr. Burnstein, the man who gave him his powers, had experimented on a young man who was now experiencing violent rage as a side effect. In the process of trying to help cure him, Luke was run off the road and attacked by a masked man whose sword could cut through Luke’s bulletproof skin. Thankfully, he was saved by another one of Burnstein’s subjects: Mitchell Tanner, AKA Warhawk.
Plot: Luke Cage #2 opens with Luke bleeding out in the backseat of Mitchell Tanner’s car before being taken inside to have his wounds cauterized in what appears to be a rather painful process.
Meanwhile, Mateo Corello has kidnapped Dr. Mornay to forcibly procure some help for his afflicted son and other “patients” of the dearly departed Burnstein.
Story: The tentative dynamic between Luke and his so-called brother Mitchell is very promising, though Luke Cage #2 spends perhaps a little too long debating the particulars of the previous issue’s attack. The information conveyed is necessary for both Luke and the readers to understand what’s going on, but the way the two men relate to each other is far more interesting. Walker subtly weaves the tension in otherwise mundane dialogue, showcasing how Mitchell wants to be as close as possible to his “brother” while Luke rebuffs his efforts – though sometimes he has to stop and remind himself not to be sucked in. On the flipside, Mitchell gets in a few digs about Luke’s supposed perfection and his vulnerability about not being the favorite son is compelling.
Dr. Morney finds her life under threat by Corello’s son, whose name was either never mentioned or escapes me, but she never loses her composure. I like the way she accepts how complicit she is in Burnstein’s experiments but also doesn’t let herself be pushed around, and I found the son’s story of experimentation and torture one of the more poignant moments in the issue. Making Luke see Burnstein as a father figure seemed like an odd choice before, but the contrast between his view and the apparent reality makes for an interesting read.
The action picks up slightly when Warhawk introduces Cage to the rest of the “family,” but the pace is still a little slow considering the stakes. The splash page without a doubt ramps up the tension for next month, though, and we’re left with plenty of questions despite Warhawk’s previous info dump of answers.
Art: The art style of Luke Cage #2 is undeniably aesthetically pleasing. Nelson Blake II makes his characters look very realistic, and focuses on their expressions with care as often as possible. On the flip side, the panels don’t feel very dynamic this issue, but that’s more due to the talky nature of the story at the moment and less due to the art itself. The last few pages show that the art spruces up when the plot calls for it.
Marcio Menyz’s coloring suits the pencils quite well, and together they make Warhawk especially visually haunting. We know his skin is akin to titanium, which accounts for the blue-gray color, but Menyz makes him look almost like a ghost. And I mean this in a positive way, because he is indeed a ghost of Luke Cage’s past come back to haunt him. I’d also like to make special mention of Joe Sabino’s lettering, as he makes the blocks of text sprinkled generously throughout the issue much more interesting to read with unexpected surprises here and there.
Verdict: Luke Cage #2 is a little too exposition-heavy and slow to move the plot forward, but the forthcoming plot is very compelling. I can’t wait to find out what really happened to Burnstein if he didn’t kill himself, and what Dr. Mornay did to Corello’s son.
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5