I certainly did not anticipate shades of Flex Mentallo, one of my all-time favourite series. A series that one would think would be very hard to imitate, and I am pleased to report, no such attempt was made.
Other than the similarity between Flex’s Muscle Mystery and Luther Strode’s Hercules Method, the direction of this new release from Image is completely different. The story begins with the familiar convention of the geeky high school teenager, bullied and certainly a candidate for getting sand kicked in his face, seeking a method to toughen himself up. Resorting to the tried and tested (and somewhat failed) method of sending off for a technique catalogue, a series of calamitous incidents eventually unleashed the potential of the techniques that Luther had practiced that until now had delivered a frustrating absence of results.
Yet that is a rather two-dimensional view of the story. It is implied that Luther and his mother have escaped the attentions of an abusive husband and father, they are certainly on the run from someone. Behind the Hercules Method itself, there is some shadowy organisation with no doubt nefarious aims. And the opening scenes are more reminiscent of an Avatar title such as No Hero, a stark contrast to the rest of the issue. This is certainly no standard teen hero book.
Written by Justin Jordan with art by Tradd More, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode is full of little moments of humour set against the true horror of the story – high school. Seriously though, the whole feel of the issue is like that of the better 2000AD stories, if obviously americanised. After reading and then returning to check the front cover, I was disappointed to learn this is only to be a six issue mini-series, I can see the character having a lot more potential than that.
Talking of the ‘feel’ of a story, this week sees the release of both Stormwatch and Justice League International #2′s. If I was to sum up what I thought of the new DCU, I rather see these two titles, alongside Frankenstein and Animal Man as the flagship of the new approach. It’s not quite WildStorm, but it’s certainly not any DCU that we have seen before. Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, Post-Zero Hour, Post-Infinite Crisis; this is different to all of them. There’s a grittiness that is worlds apart from the dire ‘Dark’n'Gritty’ era of the Eighties and Nineties, a whole new texture. So far, it seems to be a winner, at least for this writer.
Let’s hope the sales support this.