Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore’s “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” mini-series put both creators on the radar of the comics, and with good reason; their take on the idea of a send-away “gain muscle fast!” offer got dark and twisted while still remaining compelling reading. “The Legend of Luther Strode” #1 is the first chapter of the second volume of a proposed trilogy. Don’t worry — Jordan and Moore aren’t serving up the same tricks a second time.
The first panel of “The Legend of Luther Strode” #1 lets readers know they’ve jumped ahead five years in time, but as it turns out that’s not entirely necessary. It doesn’t take much to figure out that some time has passed; Luther’s become a legend among the underworld, his fist able to punch through a hotel door and the bad guy’s head on the other side in a single strike, with his hunt for evil-doers never-ending. As a result, most of “The Legend of Luther Strode” #1 focuses instead on one of the organized crime groups trying to get everyone to recognize the danger that is Luther Strode, and more importantly a plan to actually defeat him.
Switching from Luther-as-protagonist to Luther-as-force-of-nature is a risky gamble, but I think it works. Mike Hill might be the bad guy here, but Jordan still makes him a compelling character. That’s the important thing with “The Legend of Luther Strode” #1 (and storytelling in general); you don’t have to agree with the viewpoint character, you just need to find the character interesting enough to keep reading. Mike’s plan to take down Luther Strode promises to be good reading (especially based on this initial salvo, which doesn’t quite have the same purpose that you might initially think), and his special consultant is a great touch. It’s not just a nod to “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” mini-series, but it’s also a fun little twist that will keep you that much more interested if you’ve read the original story. Mike Hill is a devious bastard, and that’s the kind of bad guy that I’ll cheerfully read comics about.
Moore’s art is just like I remembered it; highly detailed and able to bring highly violent images to life. Exploding heads aren’t something I normally go for, but Moore draws it in a way that is both disturbing and entrancing. For those who don’t like violence, though, there’s a lot more to offer from Moore’s art. Moore still draws hair in a great manner (lots of big locks with individual strands within them), for instance, and the smiles and smirks that we get from Mike or the special consultant are just through the roof. One of the best visual moments, though, is when we see Luther pinning another villain’s identification to the wall. As he pulls the view back and we see just how busy Luther’s been, his outline against the wall covered in those cards is a quietly dramatic and strong image. It’s not a flashy scene, but Moore gives Jordan’s story just the right quiet dignity it asked for in that moment.
“The Legend of Luther Strode” #1 is getting the mini-series just started right here, but it’s off to a strong beginning. Now that the set-up is over, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re in for another crazy ride. If you liked “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” (now available in a collected edition, for that matter) you’ll almost certainly like “The Legend of Luther Strode” #1, too. If you haven’t read any of these comics, now is a great time to begin.