Monday, January 31, 2011

The New Avengers #8

One of the greatest achievements of Brian Bendis' run on The New Avengers has been making Luke Cage one of Marvel's top heroes.

As someone who bought the very first issue of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire back in the '70s, I always liked the character and thought he had a lot of potential - but he seemed to be stuck in that second tier of characters like his friend Iron Fist, the Defenders, Ghost Rider and - well, you get the idea.

But by making him the leader of The New Avengers, he's been brought to the front lines, and his character is living up to that original potential. He's smart, resourceful, powerful, courageous and funny.

He gets to show off all those traits in this issue, which is focused on the relationship between Luke and his wife, Jessica Jones. She's debating whether or not to become an active superhero again, and the two discuss it over dinner.

(By the way, one splash panel uses the same winding, back-and-forth word balloon technique used in a recent issue of Spawn - the difference being that here, the writer conveys the voice of the character so well, there's no doubt which one is speaking in any of the balloons. You couldn't say that about the ones in Spawn.)

This is a superhero comic, so the discussion is interrupted by a ship crashing in town - and things heat up when Dr. Doom steps out of the ship.

The art for this issue is by Daniel Acuna, and it's terrific. The painted pages ripple with energy, the layouts are powerful and the characters are expressive and fun to watch.

It's not a big issue - it's mostly setting up future events - but it does so very well indeed. And the former Power Man is long overdue for the spotlight.

Grade: A-


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