Luke Cage Noir by author Mike Benson, Illustrations by Shawn Martinbrough
Luke Cage Noir is another standalone in a series of Marvel Noir comic books. The concept of these seems to loosely be, I dunno, put the characters back in time and make it kinda black and white or something. Also, give everyone old timey lingo that’s hard to read and is fairly cringey. There’s no consistency between them, nothing tying them together, and therefore they’re largely pointless.
It would be fine if these stories had more fun with it and were used as creative one offs to showcase the authors but they’re really more throwaways that mess around with origin stories. For example, the Punisher Noir book killed off his father instead of his family to create his motivation. Did that really change anything? No. So why bother?
Luke Cage is typically made a superhero by a prison experiment that causes him to have impenetrable skin. He’s strong and essentially bullet proof. This is the case here as well but there’s an odd twist, more on that later.
In Luke Cage Noir Cage gets out of prison to be told that his favorite female companion is dead. This fridging is used to aggravate him into revenge mode. Additionally, he is hired to investigate the death of a wealthy white woman who was found in Harlem. Keep in mind, Cage is not a detective or a private investigator so why he would be sought out to solve this case is a mystery that Cage should be more suspicious of.
Side by side with these two plots we have Tombstone, depicted as a black albino, who is hunting Cage. We have three plots, which do somewhat come together by the end. That leads us to needing to discuss some spoilers.
Cage kills the heck out of Tombstone without any hesitation. In this noir universe he has absolutely no qualms around killing.
Cage also finds his gal, she was in hiding after having been scarred nearly beyond recognition.
Then he becomes wanted for the murder of the wealthy white lately, that guy who hired him set him up. Ah, that makes a lot more sense. Cage should have seen something like this coming.
At the end of Luke Cage Noir the reader discovers that Cage might not actually have any powers at all. At some point he was shot in front of a crowd and a random chance object in his pocket protected him. Everyone believed he was bullet proof and he just let them believe it.
I’m not sure what to do with this ending. Why depower him right at the end? I think it would have made a better statement to use that concept throughout the entire book.The ending of this one didn’t quite work for me but it at least was something I hadn’t seen before.
Marvel has a very hard time writing things out of canon. They are so obsessed with connecting everything that creative one offs are neutered. Luke Cage Noir, like any of the noirs, had a shot to be original and entertaining but is reduced to a forgetable 6 issues.
3/5 noir shadows 👤👤👤
For a non Marvel noir check out Fatale
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