The Legend of Luther Strode #1 will hit you like a punch to the chest. Not just any punch to the chest, mind you, we’re talking the kind of punch that bursts straight through your ribs and pulls out your bleeding ticker right before your very eyes. To call it brutal would be an understatement. Legend is darker, bloodier and infinitely more intense than its predecessor, 2011-2012’s The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, written by Justin Jordan with Tradd Moore on pencils and Felipe Sobreiro on colours.
Legend takes place five years after the events of Strange Talent. Right from the get-go, Legend is not afraid to show us a grittier world with an accordingly harsher Luther. As early as page two we have the delightfully gruesome image of Luther punching straight through a gangster’s head. And that’s just page two. It would seem the decapitations, spine snapping and intestine choking of strange talent were just a small taste of the truly disturbing acts of violence Tradd Moore can conjure. This is by no means a pleasant book to read.
Five years on and things have not gone well for Luther. With his best friend and mother dead, he has succumbed almost fully to the dark ways of the Hercules method and spends his nights murdering and mutilating pimps, drug dealers and crime lords. The spindl,y geeky Luther of the previous series is no more, replaced instead by a hulking bloodthirsty killer.
He has become a sort of Batman-type legend, both feared and hated by the community of criminals he hunts. There is something undeniably terrifying about this new legendary Luther. Perhaps it’s because he has let himself descend fully into the madness and blood lust of the cult he once fought or maybe it’s because we (for the most part) only see him as a shimmering black blur. Either way, he is effectively built up by Justin Jordan as awe-inspiring.
Apart from being significantly darker, Legend is very similar to Strange Talent in terms of its strengths. It’s plotted well, dialogue and art are both sharp and it contains a healthy dash of humour in the way that it handles itself. What this comic lacks, however, is moderation in its use of violence. The over use of ultra-violence means quite often the violence lacks its intended impact as the reader quickly becomes too desensitized to the excess of blood and gore.
This aside, The Legend of Luther Strode #1 is a challenging and provocative read. Although by no means perfect, it really hit all the right notes and I am eagerly awaiting issue number two.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention it features a two-page mini comic by none other than JL8 artist and writer Yale Stewart!