SFX Blogger Alasdair Stuart casts his eye over a radical new comic from Image
Of Luther Strode
Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Tradd Moore
Coloring by Felipe Sobreiro
Lettering by Steven Finch
Pin-Up drawn by Frank Dunbar & Inked by John Mizzer
Luther Strode is an unkillable, but not unharmable, muscle bound vigilante. A wall of a man with a bandaged face and a terrifying physique who’s intent on bringing horrifically violent justice to the world. Luther Strode is also a friendly, well-meaning geek who lives with his mother and is trying to fit in at a new school. There’s a girl he likes, Petra, a bully who hates him, Jacobson, and the slightest possibility that his life might be something other than what he’s scared of; being the class geek, being the bottom of the food chain forever. That chance is wrapped up in The Hercules Method , a self-improvement book that promises to expand Luther’s mind, body and spirit and turn him into a terrifying wall of a man…
Appropriately for a book about physical change, there are two very clear Luthers here. One, the Luther in the ongoing flashback, is the archetypal geek, polite, funny, compassionate and ultimately powerless. Writer Jordan manages a nice spin on the traditional geeky kid, sidestepping the Peter Parker elements of the character by making Luther tall and self-deprecating and, crucially, giving him a quietly hellacious background. He’s smart and quiet and funny and he uses all of those as armour, as a survival mechanism. It’s an interesting idea and one that neatly ties into the other version of Luther; the man mountain we see in the opening pages.
It’s easy to get turned off by the violence in those opening pages because, without context, it’s the sort of violence that English comics used to get banned for. People are torn in half, limbs are ripped off and the perpetrator is the same polite, nerdy kid as we see in the flashback, just buried under a shield of muscle. It plays, initially, as overblown and sensationalistic and it’s only when you see Luther in the past that you realise the price he’s paid for his muscles. He exchanges innocence for strength and the first issue at least implies very strongly that he made the wrong choice. There’s an air of tragedy as a result that neatly offsets the violence and grounds the story in a way of lot previous works that have played with these ideas have failed to do. This is neatly balanced by the easy, rolling humour which manages to play the geek card without once appearing self conscious.
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is a very odd book, balancing what appears to be an ancient conspiracy with hideous biological enhancement, brutal violence and geek empowerment comedy. It’s a heady mix and on the first read through it might leave you cold. Stick with it, read it again and you’ll see the rest of the book fall into place. Luther’s talent may be strange, and incredibly violent, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Have you been keeping up with SFX ’s Panel Bashing comics solumn ?