Review by Frank Plowright
Writer Justin Jordan has studied the Mark Millar template very closely, identified recurring themes and constructed his own story around them. There’s the geeky kid with a private crush who strives to be something better. There’s his less motivated mate and sounding board. There’s the seemingly invincible villain who turns up to remind our hero that a few small victories don’t render him all-powerful. There’s the allegedly endearing assertive and potty-mouthed woman. And there’s the doses of often gratuitous over the top nastiness. Of course, none of these themes were particularly original when utilised by Millar, but Millar’s plotting is far superior and incorporates them in unpredictable twists. Not being able to emulate that aspect of his oeuvre renders The Strange Talent of Luther Strode very much by the numbers.
There’s also little explanation of what propels events. Luther orders a Charles Atlas style betterment manual and diligently follows the instructions, which somehow bestow The Strange Talent alongside his muscular development. The villain is apparently a villain merely to further develop Luther. In his introduction Jordan claims this is an investigation in the use of power suddenly acquired by the previously bereft, in the manner of money won by lottery winners. His predictable story, though, barely scratches the surface of this societal quandry.
Millar’s other missing strength is that he’s accompanied by mesmerising artists, and Justin Jordan has Tradd Moore, who mystifies. He can draw, and he can tell a story, yet also elects to depict the hero’s object of desire with a giraffe’s neck, and his cast sport randomly placed detail lines. Even Luther’s otherwise effective bandage style mask appears designed to include these lines. This moves beyond stylistic device to constant distraction.
What Luther Strode does have going for him is a formulaic plot relatively simply adaptable for cinema, and ready made storyboards. The cynic might claim that was all that was ever intended and Jordan may yet laugh loudest. The strange talent continues in The Legend of Luther Strode or both are combined in Luther Strode: The Complete Series.