It’s time for Luke Cage to go home…  Your Major Spoilers review of Luke Cage #166 awaits!

LUKE CAGE #166

Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Guillermo Sanna
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Luke Cage: “Luke Cage went to New Orleans for the funeral of the man who gave him his powers, Dr. Noah Burstein.  However, it turned out Burstein wasn’t dead, but kidnapped by Cyril Morgan, a businessman whose son had been subjected to Dr. Burstein’s procedure, which healed his son but also afflicted him with a violent rage that led to the death of Burstein’s wife.  Morgan’s son wasn’t the only person Dr. Burstein experimented on…”

A STRANGE LITTLE TOWN

Our story opens with Luke driving home from the mess that was Burstein’s funeral, only to get pulled over somewhere in Mississippi by a policeman who is clearly racial profiling him.  After showing his Avengers ID, Luke (who literally did nothing to get pulled over) gets on his way, but the officer makes an unnerving call to indicate that something is up.  When Cage stops for breakfast, a troubled waitress tries to talk to him, recognizing him as the legendary hero for hire, only to have more armed and armored officers arrive to interrupt the conversation.  After getting beaten up, gassed and dragged away, Luke finds himself at the mercy of…

…The Ringmaster?  Even he isn’t sure that this constitutes a real threat, until Ringmaster’s hypnotic powers get the best of him, and Luke awakens, once more in prison.

ALL THE RIGHT PARTS ARE THERE, BUT…

Something about this comic never quite came together for me, and I can’t even really articulate what it is.  I like Walker’s writing, and the fact that this book never shies away from Luke’s issues with racism is refreshing, but the issue feels unfocused for me.  Sanna’s art is just kind of okay for me, with a heavy, thick ink line that wavers back and forth from working to… not so much.  Luke Cage as a character is pretty great, and I like how this book reflects the Netflix version of Cage, even if he isn’t quite the same Cage we’ve been reading about in the comics.  There’s a hook for a compelling “Cage In Prison” story here, and I’ll be back next time to see how it all shakes down, but this one feels like it’s all sizzle and no steak.

THE BOTTOM LINE: JUST DIDN’T QUITE GEL FOR ME

Luke Cage #166 has a lot of things going for it, and this creative team is one that I am interested in seeing more from, but this opening chapter never quite put all the pieces together, leading to a still better-than-average 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ll be back to see the rest of this arc, for certain, even if the leadoff wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be, and if nothing else, the cover is amazing…

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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