Review by Frank Plowright
Luther Strode is a strange and rambling series, re-evaluated with each of the three story arcs, and launching the careers of Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore. It’s not a pretty sight to begin with, but tremendous progress ensures it develops into something strange, individual and in places thoughtful.
That’s all very far away in what was originally released as The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, in which high school geek Luther begins his strange journey. Moore’s distinctly odd art draws a little on Kevin O’Neill, but lacks his stylistic consistency, and a constantly distracting feature is the excess of unnecessary lines, so often indicating lack of confidence in new artists. He can lay out a good page, but all too often the art looks flat and two-dimensional. Not that Jordan’s much better. Enlightenment, or the search for it, is a constant backdrop to all three portions of Luther’s story, starting with his strange transformation after diligently following a mail order manual. Jordan’s writing is very much influenced by Mark Millar, but at this stage lacks even an iota of Millar’s originality.
Having dismissed both creators as no-hopers, The Legend of Luther Strode surprises. Jordan’s decided Hong Kong action movie is the way to go, resulting in a powered-up Luther five years older and wiser taking a gangster’s organisation apart. Moore’s been looking at some manga, and takes inspiration from that to create some kinetic action sequences, with the final three chapters forming one ambitiously continuing scene. However, we have to address Petra. She’s Luther’s high school sweetheart, slim, potty-mouthed and a constant irritation. She’s supposed to be cute and encouraging, a comedy relief, but instead any right thinking person will be praying a stray bullet heads her way.
With the exception of the still resolutely annoying Petra, there’s another leap forward for the content of The Legacy of Luther Strode, and by now Jordan and Moore are producing a fun action series. Moore’s enthusiasm and natural talent has been absorbed into a cohesive style. He’s producing balletic action sequences, even more impressive page layouts, and is well partnered with Felipe Sobreiro’s colouring. Jordan has upped the spiritual content, and we finally have an explanation for Luther’s strange transformation. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s better than average, and exceptional considering the starting point.
Despite the great improvement, will anyone other than direct relations of Jordan and Moore really want to drop a list price of $50 for a hardcover collection?