Friday, September 30, 2016
I certainly wasn't expecting this new NetFlix series to copy the original comic from the 1972, Luke Cage: Hero for Hire.
And I was right - that's not what you get in the Luke Cage TV series, although the basic story is intact.
It's an origin that is being told a bit at a time (which works perfectly here). In the first episode we meet Luke, a good man who isn't afraid to tackle honest work - including working as a janitor in a barber shop. Also, he doesn't curse (though other characters do).
But he has a dark past that haunts him, and a big secret - he has super powers, including incredible strength and bulletproof skin.
He's torn between doing the right thing and helping people - and keeping hidden. Could he be a Captain America for Harlem - or will that land him back in prison?
The series does a wonderful job evoking the kind of blaxploitation storytelling that spawned the character in the '70s, but without slipping into cartoonish levels. The characters feel real (including a new love interest - note that this story predates his later relationship with Jessica Jones) and the situations are believable.
The first episode sets up several tense situations, as two gangs come into bloody conflict when a deal to buy some high tech weapons goes badly.
There's also a crooked politician making a power play - and Luke has to decide if he's willing to put himself in the middle.
The series has all the Marvel hallmarks - a terrific story that stays true to the original concept (and improves on it, bringing it up to modern-day storytelling standards), a smart script with a good blend of drama and humor, and a perfect cast.
There's not a weak actor in the bunch, but special praise goes out to Mike Colter who is note-perfect as Luke, a complex man you can admire - a modern-day hero with dignity and honor.
Oh, and the music is excellent!
The only flaw in the series is that it's not accessible to kids of all ages. The show includes some brutal, bloody sequences and some adult language.
But that's a minor quibble for yet another terrific adult series on NetFlix. Three series in for Marvel, and each one is terrific!