CAGE #1-5 (2002)

The latest attempt to make a book about Luke Cage is under the MAX imprint. Hence, the risque cover, the emphasis on realism and disturbing themes, and the heavy violence. A young girl is killed by a stray bullet, and Luke is hired to track down the killer.

Cage is portrayed as a true hero for hire–out for the money more than the justice–and that’s out of joint with the character we’ve known in other books. There’s a lot that’s wrong with this book: Stilted dialogue, excessive cursing and nudity that seems designed to make you feel like you’re reading something “adult” more than to actually serve the story, and art by Richard Corben. Corben is always an interesting artist, but…He’s not really right for this work.

But there’s also some really good things here: Having Luke be a true mercenary is a new take on him, and has potential. When he realizes that the girl’s death is a symptom of a burgeoning 3-way gang war, his righteousness starts to come out and we see the Luke we all know and love. And it relies more on his street smarts than his powers.

In fact, I’m not even sure Luke has powers in this series. The MAX books often take place in alternate universes, and I’m going to say this is not canon.

Is it worth reading? Yes. Will it scratch your itch for a solid solo series about Power Man? No. Not even a little.

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