Art and Cover by Tradd Moore
Published by Image Comics
While I have criticized Image’s “Pigs” for having an interesting premise but lackluster execution, Image’s “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” has a fairly ordinary conception (with one interesting exception) and brilliant execution.
We’ve seen this comic book story before but there is something ingenious about how the hero gets his powers and it has to do with older ads that we’ve seen in older comic books. The whole origin story of Luther Strode plays with the classic Charles Atlas ads, seen here:
I never found that ad convincing. I was more of a Count Dante (who is actually a real guy which I never knew) most dangerous man alive kind of guy but I digress. Well guess what ad that our hero reads in the first issue? He reads this:
I guess those space monkeys were real. But after that it gets into pretty standard territory. Tell me if you’ve seen this before: His powers grow and begin to exhibit themselves. There is a high school bully that torments him and friends, or friend as the case may be. There is a red haired somewhat sexually aggressive girl that he would like to know better. With his new powers, he humiliates Flash, I mean Jacobsen the high school bully. He becomes a hero at the school. He learns that with Great Power comes Great Responsibility. We’ve seen this before, not just from the Amazing Spiderman but the Karate Kid films. But it’s very well drawn and well executed. The art is fantastic and the lettering on the cover is just incredibly inspired. The late Artie Simek would be proud.
There is one element that I haven’t seen before as it becomes clear that other people have read that book. We’re introduced to a character that is clearly a killer and perhaps even a collector of other super powered people. He’s referred to as the “librarian”, which means he would read even read the book that Luther Strode has read. He looks like this or the guy on the right:
There’s another scene that indicates that this character has the gift because he sees people the same way that Luther Strode does. I guess these scenes raise more questions than they answer. You might be interested to know that this book is rated “M” for Mature. The first scene is the most disturbing as it shows us a future Luther Strode who has just murdered an entire room of people. We make the presumption that they’re bad Kickass people but who knows. This is graphic violence. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman kicked to death before. These people look like criminals and they did shoot our hero seven times. I’m sure she had it coming. Then he launches into the backstory.
I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of these, although I hope it becomes something I haven’t seen before. 3.98 stars out of 5 for the first issue.