The Horror Honeys: With great power comes great irresponsibility...

With great power comes great irresponsibility...

A Comics Honey Review by Shannon

Title: Strange Talent of Luther Strode Vol. 1
Author: Justin Jordan 
Artist: Tradd Moore, Felipe Sobreiro, Fonografiks
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: Feb 2013

Artwork 5/5
Layout 4/5
Writing 4/5
Characters 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Total:  5 Chest Cavities out of 5!

Luther Strode is just your average geek, until he sends for an exercise course from the back of an old comic book. What he gets is an instruction manual for a murder cult as old as mankind, which does everything as promised, and more...

Volume 1 contains issues #1-6

I am very excited to finally be able to review this series! Awhile ago, I found out about this comic through my usual sources and I was absolutely floored by the concept and giggling with decadent glee about this twisted comic series.

Now in its third volume, Luther Strode has been getting recognition as one of the best Image comic series to date. Its a typical superhero story but not with your typical superhero, as Luther Strode takes the superhero genre and gives it a slasher twist, dissecting the genre in all the goriest ways possible, and I fucking love it!

Artwork & Layout
BAM! One of the things that will stick out right away to readers of this book is the art. The artwork and design in Luther Strode is one of the biggest hitters in this series.
Anybody who has watched me on Twitter, would have seen me unabashedly lust over the illustrations of Tradd Moore (Ghost Rider, Batman, Deadpool). His art style is incredibly unique. With his use of sharp and curved lines, the way he renders volume and weight, and his aesthetics from film and anime deliver hard hitting, fast action that keeps your eyes glued to the pages. Seriously. Some of the movement conveyed in the panels is slick as spilled blood...

Speaking of which, Luther Strode has copious amounts of the red stuff. As Luther and members of the cult are imbued with super-strength and speed the effects are taken to the nth degree with characters being punched through the head and chest, and the ripping off of arms and legs (and sticking them in other orifices). The artwork is one part depraved giallo glee and part: “Holy shit, if superheros exist, they would be monsters!” (more on that later)

Tradd's artwork is complimented by the colours of Felipe Sobreiro, who keeps to that anime aesthetic with flat colours and cell shading, giving depth and mood to the scene without bogging it down with excessive rendering. The letters are done by Fonografiks, which helps keep the dialogue/SFX flowing with the story.

Without getting too long winded about it: the artwork in Luther Strode is some of the best I have seen in comics. The action and flow of the panels is something that I think is sorely missing from a lot of mainstream comics, where they tend to favour rendering of form, rather than action or movement and this can make the story and characters look very static.

Oh wait... there's a story? Yes! And it's a pretty good one

Luther Strode tells the story of its titular character: a typical geek in high school trying to build muscle to impress a girl. It feels pretty much like every other superhero comic in existence, however it is the philosophy of a superhero (especially a teenager) examined by writer Justin Jordan that is particularly interesting:

“When you have power, how do you use it wisely? You can go out as Luther does and try to find crime and stop it as it happens, but then what? Have you really helped or have you made it worse? What are the long term consequences of using that power?” - Justin Jordan

And contrary to what Marvel would have you believe, it is shown how great power can sometimes come with great irresponsibility. As Luther is fighting crime and saving people, he is making a lot of enemies, and they don't screw around like your typical supervillians from comic books. These baddies target his girlfriend Petra, his mother, and his friend Pete. Soon he starts getting noticed by members of the cult and they will stop at nothing in order to try and get him into the fold.

Luther strives to be a good guy, but with all of the attention from his battles, people start viewing him as a monster and eventually being a virtuous humane hero doesn't quite work if your adversaries are not worried about being taken down by society.

In short, while Kick Ass tries to show the absurdity of superheros in reality (sorta), Luther Strode takes Kick Ass out to the curb and smashes its head in.. all of which should really make you relieved that superpowers don't exist at all.

The characters of Luther Strode are played out like your typical superhero fare: the geeky lead, his even geekier best friend, his love interest,  but writing them as actual teenagers.

Luther and his mother are in hiding from his abusive father, Luther tries to be a strong person and be there for his mother but often feels helpless and has fantasies of rage about getting revenge on his father, and the bully in school trying to hurt Pete. Its kind of nice to have a teen character that has this range of emotions and thoughts, as people who often write teenagers, age them beyond those years.

Luther has a crush on a girl named Petra, and I love this character. She's a humorous send-up of girlfriend characters in DC/Marvel comics who often pine over and carry familiar angst about their boyfriends. Yeah, no. Petra gets what she wants. She is so sexually aggressive towards Luther in the beginning, its fantastic. I am surprised he kept his pants on... I wouldn't have. Best of all, unlike the Mary-Janes of the past, Petra becomes a heavy hitting character later in the series and gets into action of her own.

And lastly, the cult, or specifically The Librarian, the man who had mailed out the original book and is looking to bring Luther into the fold. The Librarian is a man who is a contradiction of human society- a classy well dressed gentlemen, suave with words, relaying historical anecdotes while disemboweling you with his bare hands.

I don't think I can really conclude anything that has been already said, but in short: Strange Talent of Luther Strode is the most beautifully illustrated, thought provoking splatterpunk comic series I have read. 

Just go buy the goddamn thing already! 



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