Monday, October 10, 2016
Cage! #1 Review and **SPOILERS**
I’m Only Talkin’ ‘Bout Cage
By: Genndy Tartakovsky
Inker: Stephen DeStefano
Colorist: Scott Wills
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: October 5, 2016
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
Wow! The great Genndy Tartakovsky returns to comics to handle none other than Luke Cage, aka Power Man, aka CAGE! I was a really big fan of the Power Puff Girls and enjoyed the heck out of Samurai Jack…not to mention Dexter’s Lab! And then I sort of stopped watching cartoons for a while. But I have fond memories! I love his style and I think he could include the proper amounts of butt-kicking necessary to carry such a baaad character. So let’s dispense with the preamble and check it out!
New York City, 1977. The year of the blackout. The year the Yankees won the World Series. The year I turned two years old. So many memorable New York events in 1977, a sliver of time romanticized by hip-hop aficionados and Netflix programs, it’s sensible to position Luke Cage right in this period. It also means that Genndy Tartakovsky doesn’t have to concern himself with any of Marvel Comics’ more recent continuity developments. Anyhow, these mean city streets are being made meaner by a gang of roller skating criminals called the Bank Rollers, who look like a few late 70s Disco and urban stereotypes thrown together. They come up on Luke Cage, dressed in his metal headband and afro get-up, and he pounds these guys to paste. As the cops show up, Cage decides it’s time to split, but not before performing a hoop-destroying slam dunk to thrill some neighborhood kids. And probably ruin the only neighborhood playground, to boot.
That evening in Chinatown, Luke arrives ten minutes late for a dinner date with Misty Knight, his robot-armed pal at the New York Police Department. She winds up being later, and after a brief cat nap Cage wakes up with ire and pounds the table before him to toothpicks. He heads over to the police station to give Misty Knight a piece of his hot-headed mind, but there aren’t any cops there—the phone is ringing, but no one is answering. A skinny fellow in holding says he’ll tell Luke what happened, so only if he springs him from the clink. So Luke pulls him through the bars of his cell, right out of his clothing, and the naked criminal tells Luke that the heroes around town are disappearing so cops are super busy right now. Luke stuffs him back in his cell and struts off.
Cage heads over to Misty’s apartment, to find Cyclops is there looking for Jean Gray. Did you know Jean Gray and Misty Knight were roommates for a while? Well, now you do. This fairly contrived scene serves to deliver Cage into the clutches of D-grade villains the X, Chemistro, Mace, Black Mariah, and the Fish, who looks very much like the Amazon from Nintendo Pro Wrestling. They fight, and Luke Cage wins by throwing Black Mariah on the rest of them, taking them out of the conflict. Because she is very fat. Did you know Black Mariah is very fat? Well, now you do. It’s all for naught, though, because Luke is blindsided by an unseen figure and knocked out cold!
The art looks to be rendered in Genndy Tartakovsky’s unique style, which I suppose you either like or you don’t. I like it. The lines seem less sharp than on his animated work, but it works well for a comic book and does add to the perceived grittiness of the era. Only problem I had with this issue is that there are two fights (three, if you count Cyclops blasting Luke through a window) and none of them have any point. This is a real fast read, partly because of the dynamic layouts but mainly because there isn’t much happening. Misty Knight is missing, and Luke Cage gets knocked out. I guess it makes for better Wikipedia representation.
Bits and Pieces:
Ever wonder what a Genndy Tartakovsky-produced Power Man cartoon would look like? Well, here's your answer.