I love the 21st Century. My entire childhood is being brought to screens, both silver and small and…whatever size you consider smartphones and mobile game consoles to be. I’m referring, of course, to the Marvel franchise and its explosion over the last few years. Avengers, Iron Man, Thor…every comic book I bought and every superhero I worshiped, right up there live and in color, including the less galactic ones like Daredevil, Punisher, and now, Luke Cage.
Luke Cage? You mean, Power Man? (not the original Power Man,who was an Avenger enemy and minion of Baron Zemo)
Now, admittedly, I was not big into Luke Cage when he made his Marvel debut in those yon 70’s. I was very big into Iron Fist,
though, so had passing familiarity with the character. About the time the Hero for Hire series started, though, I’d drifted away from comics so the familiarity remained passing. At least I knew who he was when he showed up on Jessica Jones, so I was looking forward to the Luke Cage series, especially since Jessica Jones was so outstanding.
Luke Cage, unfortunately, was not.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, just not as good as Jones. Or Daredevil…at least Daredevil’s first season, and the Daredevil second season episodes that focused on Punisher. And maybe that’s why Luke Cage didn’t fare so well: it lacked the focus of Jones’ and Daredevil’s best episodes. A single villain, for one: Daredevil had Kingpin; Jessica had the Purple Man. Luke Cage has Cottonmouth and Shades and Stryker and Holy Hannah, guys, you kinda went all over the place. It was like they were trying to do the entire Luke Cage saga right up to the Thunderbolts in one season.
It’s a bit difficult to figure out the timeline here, but it looks like Luke Cage begins right where Jessica Jones ends. Problem is, the Jessica Jones episodes are treated like they happened on another continent and a few hundred years ago. Luke Cage comes as a complete surprise to everybody. Even when he makes himself very obvious, everyone is surprised. This, after the Avengers leveled New York. Twice. Think people are a bit more tuned in, fellows.
There was too much of a blaxploitation feel to the episodes, too. Yes, yes, I know, Luke Cage debuted back in the middle of Shaft and Foxy Brown but, c’mon guys, that was decades ago. Just do a straight up story.
There’s one truly great Marvel moment when Luke puts on his old costume
…for about three seconds, tearing it off when he realizes how ridiculous it looks. Good scene.
But moments like that aren’t enough to save the series. And it needs saving, because we have Iron Fist
around the corner and Misty Knight needs to acquire her cyborg arm and Jessica needs to marry Luke…okay, wait, maybe that’s the problem I just complained about: too much coming at once. So maybe slow it down a bit, re-establish Luke as a Hero for Hire and then ease Danny Rand and Matt Murdoch into it while Luke deals with Mariah Dillard and maybe Punisher from time to time. The story kept simple, and powerful.