Luke Cage Noir

luke cage noir cover trade paperback
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10

Kind of clever mystery, anti-hero

Overly complex set-up with Luke in prison and myth

Comic Info

Comic Name:   Luke Cage Noir

Publisher:   Marvel Comics

Writer:   Mike Benson/Adam Glass

Artist:   Shawn Martinbrough

# of Issues:   4

Release Date:  2010

luke cage noir #1 cover tim bradstreet art

Luke Cage Noir #1

Reprints Luke Cage Noir #1-4 (October 2009-January 2010).  Harlem isn’t a safe place to live if you’re Luke Cage.  Free from jail, Luke finds his girl Josephine is dead, his buddy Stryker is running the area, and his nemesis Tombstone has joined the police force with Officer Rachman who helped put Cage away.  Now, Cage has been hired by an affluent white man named Randall Banticoff to find out why his wife was killed in Harlem.  Cage’s reputation as the man with bulletproof skin could be tested.

Wrtten by Mike Benson and Adam Glass, Luke Cage Noir was part of Marvel’s short lived Noir imprint that featured alternate versions of Marvel characters in noir setting.  Luke Cage Noir was also collected as part of Marvel Noir:  Daredevil/Cage/Iron Man and features art by Shawn Martinbrough.

Luke Cage series are always kind of iffy.  I loved Hero for Hire and Power Man and Iron Fist, but a lot of his later stuff wasn’t that inspired.  Here, you get a gangster style Luke Cage dipped into a hard-boiled detective story…part of it works and part of it doesn’t.

What does work is the basic core story is pretty interesting.  You have Cage being assailed from all sides and this myth of him as the bulletproof “Power Man” ruling the narrative of Harlem.  The mystery weaves through the story and kind of comes off as some of Brian Michael Bendis’ crime writings (which can be entertaining).

luke cage noir #3 cover tim bradstreet art

Luke Cage Noir #3

The flipside of this is the unnecessarily complex backstory.  The timeline of events, Cage being set-up, going to jail, the Tombstone stuff, and then the reveal of what happened when Luke was in jail seems like it could have been ironed out and told better.  This hinders the storytelling and an otherwise decent story.

The story’s art is obviously very shadowy dealing with the noir subject.  It does work and many of these Marvel Noir stories have a Sandman Mystery Theatre type feel to them as a result (it kind of feels like Sandman Mystery Theatre was the basis of the whole line in many ways).  The problem also with this is that with no costumes, everyone kind of looks the same wearing fedoras and suits.

Luke Cage Noir was a quick and kind of fun read.  I think if a little more work had gone into the art and storytelling the comic could have really been tightened up and stronger.  Reading the comic, it does feel that it has a bit more of the basic Luke Cage in it (and that the makers of the Netflix series might have also read this as basis).  In general, the Marvel Noir line was an interesting experiment and worth exploring more.

Related Links:

Daredevil Noir

Iron Man Noir

Wolverine Noir

X-Men Noir

X-Men Noir:  Mark of Cain

Luke Cage:  Second Chances—Volume 1

Luke Cage:  Second Chances—Volume 2

Luke Cage—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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