Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Spirit Wars #1

spirit-wars-1Comics have a way of reaching people when other forms of storytelling cannot. I have mentioned before in previous reviews of how my father got me into reading comics and how I have used the medium to get my daughters to read as well. This seems true for most people, not only here in America, but all around the world. As comics fans, all around the globe fell in love with DC and Marvel, they also were inspired by them.

In the 70s, Marvel reached out in Great Britain, first as reprints of some of their ongoing titles and then with original titles like Captain Britain Weekly and Knights of Pendragon. The other direction Marvel reached was north of the border, with the much-touted Alpha Flight. DC, on the other hand, the closest they ever came to is Earth One’s version of Batman and Robin and Justice League Europe being based in London, but their line, Vertigo, had a deeper run with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Invincibles. The one thing both companies have not done, is to reach out to the rest of the world despite this fact, the rest of the globe still has embraced the ethos of the superhero.

Case and point, the emergence of Vortex Comics, from Nigeria, who have a series of titles, which not only embraced the superhero genre but also embraced other genres while not alienating its core audience, by including characters who look like them. In the debut issue of Spirit Wars, we are introduced to Bolaji, whose secret superhero identity is Strike Guard, but has since lost his powers until a friend who has long passed has brought him back to life, by permission of Death himself. The bargain his friend made was to kill as many angels as Death would require, a penance that would literally bring about reverberations in Heaven and Hell. By the end of the first issue, one thing is certain, war is coming.

Overall, a very strong first issue which not only delivers but introduces the reader to a world that is part Game of Thrones and part Clash Of The Titans with shadows of Infinity Gauntlet. The story by Mamode Ogbewele and Somto Ajuluchuckwu, is immersive and enlightening, while its pace can seem breakneck at times, it still is entertaining. The art by Somto Akah, Jimmy King, and Toyin Ajetunmobi, is simply beautiful, as the vibrant tones and colors accentuate the characters and backgrounds, while the way they use sepia tones, are the best I have ever seen. Altogether, an excellent debut, that leaves the reader hungry for more, which this nine issue series aims to do.

Story: Mamode Ogbewele and Somto Ajuluchuckwu
Art: Somto Akah, Jimmy King and Toyin Ajetunmobi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Power and Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

power-and-magic-coverIn the world of the paranormal fiction, witches tend to be rather pretty centerpiece, as they play a major part, but rarely drive their own stories. Of course, there some notable exceptions, such as Charmed , Salem and Sabrina The Teenaged Witch, which are strong popular examples, but rarely does it prove to be scary. Then came Scott Snyder’s Wytches, which was not only scary as “small town with a big secret” scary, but bone chilling. In these examples, they rarely show any type of diversity.

I know the most classic example of diversity, is the constant popping up of Tituba, in historical records but throughout fiction dealing with the Salem Witch Trials, to include the soon ending Salem. As the question of diversity is constantly being redefined and reexamined, diversity not only includes race, but sexuality and disability. Because of the ever-changing definition, our fiction has reflected and refracted this in the most beautiful ways. A great example of this is the Power and Magic Anthology, which challenges every concept of what a witch is supposed to act and look like as well as the mythology, which makes this book, essential to all speculative fiction fans.

In Convolvere, characters share a secret, one that connects this group of friends in such an endearing fashion. In Your Heart is an Apple, tells a heartbreaking story of one would call a “muggle”, who falls in love with a witch, with a surprise twist. In After the Dust Settles, a grimoire is passed down from mother to daughter, and the love that connects this family women comes through their magic. In Te Perdi, the very question of what one would do for love, is challenged, as a witch goes literally through hell for her love. In Def Together, a battle between two witches takes center stage with sometimes hilarious results. In The Shop That never Stays, a witch has a pretty interesting “Quantum Leap” situation, which only infuriates her and entertains the reader.In As The Roots Undo, true love blooms when a witch leaves the walls she was taught never to leave. In The Songbird for a Vulture, a witch finds her coven after a terrible tragedy destroys her family.

Overall, a strong book that should be in everyone”s 2017 reading list, as it is not only engaging but truly some excellent storytelling. The stories contained shows exactly why every writer was chosen. The art although different in style by each artist, possess a synergy, which unearths the true magic contained within. Altogether, an excellent book that challenges societal norms of race, love, and mythology.

Story & Art: Aatmaja Pandya, Ann Xu, Arianne Hokoki, Coco Candalario, Fydbac, Gabrielle Robinson, Hannah Lazarte, Jema Salume, Joamette Gil, Juliette G. De M.Medina Lopez, Maria Llorens, Devaki Neogi, Naomi Franquiz, Natasha L. Barredo, Nivedita Sekar, Veronica Agarwal, Vexingly Yours
Story: 10 Art:10 Overall:10 Recommendation: BUY NOW!

Review: Octavia Butler’s Kindred

kindredgraphiccoverTime Travel has always been an interesting way to look at characters. This the reason why Back To The Future, is so relatable, as one decision in that story has repercussions and thereby making the right one is paramount to everything. Then there is HG Wells The Time Machine, which is a character study at its most base, where you realize man is and will always be the same good and bad. The last example, that most reverberates, is probably Dickens A Christmas Carol, whereby time travel is accomplished through paranormal means.

The one thing that threads all these examples together, is the fact that they barely have characters which possess melanin. When they do like it in Back to the Future, is they are mostly background characters, or plot devices, like  Mayor Goldy, to illustrate what certain choices yield. Rarely, has time travel been ideal for people of color, in science fiction, as one could only believe that they may have not existed during those times, which history refutes time and time again. One example in science fiction, that comes to mind, is a 1993 movie by Haile Gerima, called Sankofa, where a model times travels to slavery times.

Enter Octavia Butler, whose is an iconoclast in the science fiction world, and though she passed in 2006, her words live on and more so, in works like these. In Kindred, as the synopsis sums up:

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is abruptly snatched from her home in California and transported to the ante-bellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, has summoned her across time to save him from drowning. After this first summons, she is drawn back, again and again, to protect Rufus and ensure he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor. Each time she arrives in the past, Dana’s sojourns will become more and more dangerous because of Rufus’ obsessive need for her. The reader never knows whether she will survive one journey or the next. It’s only when she finally must save herself from rape by killing Rufus that she is finally freed from the pull of the past.

As I remember reading this book when I was 13, and had not picked it up since, but this adaptation, brought all those goosebumps, back all at once. By story’s end, the reader has been taken on a ride, realizing things about themselves as well as the need for empathy in the human race.

Overall, when it comes to adaptations, this more than captures the spirit, pushes it to new heights. Damian Duffy deftly gets every message Butler was conveying and gets why this book has been a cornerstone, to every Octavia Butler fan. John Jennings‘ illustrations leap off the page, tugging at the reader’s heartstrings, at the right beats and not flinching when most artists would. Altogether, a strong adaptation, which not only met expectations but makes one fall in love with story all over again.

Story: Damian Duffy Art: John Jennings
Story:10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy NOW!!!!!!

Review: Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman #1

wwbw01-cov-a-staggsAs a child who was born in 1977, the television gave way for some true cultural icons. I remember my family owning a big tube TV and all of us having to compromise on what TV shows we would watch, all fifteen of us sisters, brothers, and cousins. There were some shows that one of us quite took onto like my Grandfathers’ favorite show, Hawaii Five-O. Then there were the universally loved TV shows like The Fall Guy and A-Team, it captured all our attention like a tractor beam.

Before the big blockbuster, TV shows and movies, where the superhero genre became a behemoth, all children growing up in the 70s and 80s, had to deal with cheap special effects, in our onscreen adaptations. These are for the most part, laughable now, but some of those shows, we knew and still did not care. One of those shows being Wonder Woman, with the immortal Lynda Carter, where she used to spin around to change her costume. There was also The Bionic Woman, with her super slow motion effects.

For us 70s and 80s babies, Dynamite decided to fulfill some long-imagined team-ups in most of our minds. This time around they brought together Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lindsay Wagner’s Jaime Sommers. In this story, we find a SHIELD type organization recruiting both women for a protective detail, which ends being more either bargained for. By issue’s end, a long-hidden foe is about come out of the mist.

Overall, a series that gives everyone who watched it, those nostalgic feels, even their camaraderie, which is different than most female relationship portrayals. The story by Andy Mangels, is both funny and action paced, pretty much a perfect crossover episode.The art by Judith Tondora, is a cross between realistic and art deco. Altogether, what one hope it would be and expecting the rest of the series to be more of the same.

Story: Andy Mangels Art: Judith Tondora
Story:9 Art: 9 Overall:9 Recommendation: Buy

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Alex + Ada: The Complete Collection

alex-ada_hc_coverartAs the world, has enjoyed science fiction, the very existence of robots has had a powerful foothold in our imaginations. The fact that robots can do what we can do and think at a greater rate, is part of what fascinates us about them. Artificial intelligence is what makes our fascination with the robot and overall, technology so engaging. The fact that a robot can learn and then adapt to what it has learned, is what has kept business from pushing those limits, as science fiction has more than showed what would happen if we did.

Fiction’s earliest meanderings with this notion, was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as the scientist endeavored to create a machine who could think like man. This concept became more sophisticated throughout time, as authors such as Karel Capek, Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick, sought to explore the parallels between human robot. Which brings as to how film and TV has explored the very idea, as Will Smith’s adaptation of I, Robot, showed the world, the dangers. Then there is Bicentennial Man, which starred the late great Robin Williams as well as Westworld and Humans, which asked these questions in several different scenarios.

So when I started reading Alex + Ada, two years ago, I was instantly enthralled as the description reads:

Alex is a young man who is depressed after his fiancée breaks up with him. Tired of seeing him unhappy, Alex’s grandmother sends him Ada, a Tanaka X-5 android which is capable of intelligent human interaction. The robot is initially incapable of self-awareness, as each android has a program that blocks any potential free thought or consciousness.

That is only the beginning, as it starts much like Her, but becomes something more though provoking and political than I believe any initial reader would have thought. As we see Alex struggle with these questions of what makes one human and what makes one robot, and eventually sees that these labels are meaningless. We follow Alex, as a jilted ex-lover reports him to the FBI because he makes Ada, sentient, and gets set free, as he and Ada face a world where though they welcome new technology, they do not want them to have power. By series end, it proves to be powerful sentiment for why discrimination in any form should not exist.

Overall, a resilient view of the future, as this undiscovered country shows the reader how good technology can be, and how human we still would be. The story by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn more than invades the senses, it lives with the reader. The art by Jonathan Luna elevates the limits of sequential art. Altogether, as xenophobia and racism is more transparent than ever, and though this series ended last year, it still feels as if it was written yesterday.

Story: Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn Art: Jonathan Luna
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Mayday #1

mayday01_coveraThe mere existence of spies has always captured the public’s imagination. As these people who hide in the shadows do the things, that they believe are for “the greater good”. From shows like Mission Impossible to Man from UNCLE, the spy has always been glamorized as a smooth operator, who always wear a sharp suit and always a lady’s man. I would be remiss, without mentioning what the British brings to the genre, with the iconic James Bond and the long forgotten Carpetbaggers.

With the public’s growing skepticism of movie magic, both TV shows and movies started to scale back on what kept the genre both unbelievable and magical. As the standard of realism started to pervade everything that is entertainment, what would be considered entertainment in the spy genre, became a cross between hardboiled detective and analytical spies. This brought on thinking man heroes like Jack Ryan and Piper Perabo ’s character in Covert Affairs. Then FX, brought some nostalgia and good ole spy craft to the game, with The Americans, combining what everyone loves about the spy genre with some realism sprinkled as they dealt with day to day family issues and the general stress from living dual lives.

This world is recaptured in Alex De Campi’s latest effort at Image, Mayday, it is 1971, and the Cold War, has America and Russia, on edge, wondering what will be the next move of their adversaries, which may very well include sending sleeper agents. We are introduced to Felix and Rose, a deadly duo who have more than assimilated to American life, much like the main characters in The Americans. Their mission is to kill a defector, who was cooperating with the CIA, but a pair of CIA agents are hot on their trail. This is where their youthful indiscretions intrude, they find a group of hippies which get them off track and it seems it will be a matter of time before they are caught.

Overall, a strong effort by the creative team, and I can reveal that a key scene has some influences from both Gaiman and Morrison. The story from De Campi, packs a punch and makes you laugh at the same time, which shows how talented a writer Alex is. The art by Tony Parker and Blond, is striking and lucid, which definitely serves a story that takes place in the 70s. Altogether, a fresh take on a spy caper that will keep the reader yearning for more.

Story: Alex De Campi Art: Tony Parker and Blond
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1

ww75as_cv1_dsWhen it comes to Wonder Woman, it never surprises me, that although her stature in the comics world is as immense as it is, that she has never had a solo movie until next year. This character who, has inspired women of all ages for decades, and has even been on Ms. Magazine, never truly has gotten her due. Her life in the comics world, is as just as big as her contemporaries, Batman and Superman. Her backstory is also just as interesting, if not more, as she ascends from royalty, revealing a long extenuating misogyny within the fandom.

Surprisingly, most people still don’t know that she was created by a doctor, who researched bondage and other depravities, but also sought to understand the human condition. Wonder Woman, is the perfect example of the human experience, as she does take the hero’s journey, becoming a stronger character by leaving her home. Since her inception, her character has grown with society, as she initially followed tropes but eventually came to challenge each one. She even challenges the trope of relationships, where she takes the more dominant roles in her relationships with Batman and Superman.

In the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, several writers and artists collaborate to create stories in which makes us all look at Diana different. “Big Things One Day Come” has Diana and a new superhero by the name of Star Blossom take on a kryptonite powered gorilla, which is both funny and action packed. “Gives Us Strength” follows Diana as she fights some Nazis and actually helps liberate France during World War II. The last piece that stands out is the interview Lois Lane does with Wonder Woman, which answers some questions, but brings up even more.

Altogether, this special is more a love letter to this character which has inspired millions and continues to every day. The writers all bring their love to the story. The artist more so as they see her in each, a different light. Overall, a fun tribute to an icon.

Story and Art by: Liam Sharp, Rafael Scavone and Rafael Albuquerque, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, Fabio Moon, Hope Larson and Ramon Bachs, Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon, Jill Thompson, Annie Wu, Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, Sebastian Fumara, Claire Roe and Jordie Bellaire, Marcio Takara and Marcelo Maiolo, Phil Jimenez and Romulo Fajardo Jr, Brian Bolland, Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage, Jenny Frison, Gail Simone and Colleen Doran
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Doctor Strange: Mystic Apprentice #1

doctor_strange_mystic_apprentice__1-1Doctor Strange has long been one of the Marvel Universe’s most interesting characters, exploring and bending dimensions. His part of the universe is probably the most mind bending and has brought readers to his sanctum for years on end. There is none too many and as sorcerer supreme his power rules absolutely. Throughout his canon, he has challenged what most think a comic book character is supposed to be, as he fights evil in ways other characters could not wrap their minds around.

In his sole animated movie, the character’s origins were revealed, but not explained, leaving a haphazard mess, which left diehards and newbies with a bad taste in their mouths. That effort left no faith that they could follow-up with a faithful adaptation. So when the news of the upcoming movie with Benedict Cumberbatch was going to be released, and with the few trailers that came out, it looked like they finally were able to capture his story the right way. So after I read Jason Aaron’s run on the new series, I was excited to read this one.

Doctor Strange: Mystic Apprentice is pretty much about when Stephen Strange was an apprentice at Kamar-Taj, as he struggles to project his astral form and master the fighting arts. We follow him as he makes misstep over misstep, as he a fast learning novice, as he masters one and then another. Eventually, he does learn how to project his astral form, to even read when he sleeps. Before issue’s end, the reader is treated to his origin story in Strange tales written by Stan Lee

Overall, it reminds me of those old 80s training montages, which makes this issue fun to read, watching this well-known character before he became the sorcerer supreme. The story by Will Corona Pilgrim, gives a reader a funny view of this character. The art by Andrea Di Vito, complements the story in the best way. Altogether, a fun first issue that will only bring readers back once the movie comes out.

Story: Will Corona Pilgrim Art: Andrea Di Vito
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Serenity: No Power in the Verse #1

serenity-1The Firefly (Serenity) Universe is one of the most interesting worlds created by Joss Whedon, as it still resonates with every fan who as watched it and seems to gain fans with every viewing. Who cannot fall in love with group of loveable rogues, who were not only complex but relatable? Each character had their own et of morals but no matter what they still pulled for each other. Therefore, when the show got cancelled and the follow-on movie only did moderate business, many fans were heartbroken, as their world felt so real.

It’s a good thing that Dark Horse has continued living in this universe through various series that capture the spirit of the original show, with help from the Whedons. The first few series primarily were like “episodes” in the original television show. It was not until the excellent miniseries, “Leaves on The Wind”, that Browncoats got to deal with the aftermath of the movie. With the deaths of Wash and Shepherd, and the addition of Zoe’s daughter, Emma, their future never looked so uncertain.

In this latest miniseries, “No Power in The Verse”, the crew is still dealing their losses and grieving in their own ways. The political implications of the last miniseries, has the crew laying low for the Alliance and from a burgeoning movement to reignite the same civil war that Mal and Zoe fought all those years ago. That is why an emergency call, becomes a welcome interruption in their time of grief, and it is form an old friend. As always, everything is more than it seems as trouble lies ahead and not the trouble they were expecting.

Altogether, a strong start to an interesting addition to this universe’s canon, as it understands the issue of coping with grief better than I have seen in a while. Chris Roberson, explores some plausible repercussions, about keeps the spirit of the original TV show. Georges Jeanty, draws some vivid sequential art, which gives fans a new view of these familiar characters. Overall, so far, a series that every Browncoat will love.

Story: Chris Roberson Art: Georges Jeanty
Story:10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: Luke Cage Season 1

luke-cage-2As far back as I can remember, I have been reading comic books, any and every comic book from both DC and Marvel, and very few heroes resonated with me. I was never a fan of Spider-Man, even though I’m also from Queens. His adventures never felt personal to me. I loved Batman growing up but at times he seemed far too eccentric to identify with. Then my Dad introduced me to Luke Cage.

The very first issue I read, just so happened to be my Dad’s copy of his #1, the seminal one that has been on dozens of prints and t-shirts It was as if this ordinary guy, much like the men in my family, my dad , my uncles and my grandfathers, acted like him, and held the same sepia tones that runs in my family. After that first issue, I was all over every issue, I can find of Luke Cage, even picking up Luke Cage and Iron Fist issues. Eventually I moved away from reading Luke Cage, and got into war comics, like Sergeant Rock and Unknown Soldier.

luke-cage-3Fast forward years later, where my love affair with comics had been reignited, and I found the Marvel Noir series, where they introduced a crime noir version of the character, “Sweet Christmas,” I was back in it with Power Man. Unfortunately, until recently, the character was not given enough love to sustain an ongoing series , except for a few failed attempts. So when news came that Netflix was starting a series based on a few more mature superheroes, I was excited to learn that they were going to include Luke Cage, I knew they had to do it right. As the history of black superheroes, including Blade on television, is a very short history, and if there is any hope for the world to see for diverse characters, this show had to work.

When they introduced the character in Jessica Jones, the actor portraying him was pretty much what I expected him to look like, as the only other actor who could play him was Terry Crews, but his resume seemed more astute to comedy, than Mike Colter, whose resume includes Halo and The Good Wife. I knew that they were going the right direction, as they not only picked the right actor, but they also picked a showrunner with a hip-hop pedigree, Mr. Cheo Hodari Coker, (who used to write for The Source and Vibe magazines).

As he said in an interview “this was the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel Universe,” and this creative team made no qualms about that, starting off with each episode title, as they are named after a Gangstarr song, as each episode fell right in with Guru’s lyrics. Then there are subtle Biggie references throughout the series topped off with the iconic painting of the rapper that hangs in Cottonmouth’s office in Harlem’s Paradise. The music sounds like it came from a 1970s score, as Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest weaves funky beds of rhythms and silky voices courtesy of Jidenna and Faith Evans, that prove that Marvel properties can have music you would want to listen to. Can anyone name a movie soundtrack from the MCU, in which was as memorable and enjoyable to listen to?

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Another important piece is how the series portrays both Asians and Black women. Miss Connie and her husband Jin are portrayed very realistically and nowhere near stereotypical. As was pointed out in the recent Hamilton documentary by Lin Manuel Miranda’s father that “most immigrants , and all immigrants he met, were hard workers,” and I can say this for myself, as my father and my mother were immigrants as well, and I never heard them complain. The two character’s portrayals were very true to the experience, much like Netflix’s Master of None’s second episode, “Parents,” where they explored the connection and the gap between 1st generation Americans and 1st generation Asian Americans, (incidentally, the same actor, Clem Cheung who played Jin, also played one of the parents).

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Now the portrayal of women within this series, is by far eye opening for a TV show. I’m pretty sure this one either came close to or pretty much did pass the Bechdel Test. Let us start with Misty Knight, as her character is to say very least complex and actually not like most female detectives on television, she is focused, strong and always on the job, and despite her one night stand with Luke, it does not affect her decision making nor veers her away from her integrity, diffusing the usually false trope of “a woman makes decisions emotionally,” and the character actually is more like the junkyard dog detectives of the 1970s, much like Popeye Doyle, from The French Connection.

luke-cage-6Then there is Clare Temple, as with each new series from Marvel on Netflix, her character becomes more developed, and we learn more about her, as her introductory scene shows her beating up a robber and showing an actually positive relationship between her and her mother played by Sonia Braga. We also find out how brilliant she is, as she assists Dr. Burstein, in removing the Judas bullets from Luke’s body in later episodes. Then there is Mariah, known to comic book fans, as Black Mariah, thank goodness they went the total opposite form the cartoonish version they have in the comics. This version is much more developed, lucid, and more sinister than the comic book version. The character that pretty much made Mariah and Cottonmouth, Mama Mable played masterfully by Latanya Richardson-Jackson, looms large over the series, as you not only understand how these characters came to be but what dreams they deferred on their way to becoming who they are.

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My favorite scene out of the whole series, is when Mariah and the mother of a young boy who gets beat up by a detective while under police custody while he was being investigated about Luke’s whereabouts, who just so happens to go to night school to become a lawyer, confronts Misty and her female captain, about the incident, never mind that you have four women in a scene alone together, but each were portraying a strong black woman, with a job and goals, as portrayals like these are few and far between, truly a treasure of a scene.

luke-cage-8Now let me talk about the big bad guys, each of them a strong change from the comic book portrayal, not only by look but also character motivation. There’s Shades, who is totally different from his comic book incarnation. In the comics his shades actually become a weapon, much like Cyclops. Instead, in this portrayal he’s named that because of his affinity to wearing sunglasses. But he’s just as insidious as his comic book portrayal and proves to be the kingmaker before the season ends. Now, the one character, which occupies the role of nemesis for much of the season is Cottonmouth, who doesn’t have razorsharp teeth, but is ruthless, and rules Harlem with an iron fist, he reminds me of Nucky from Boardwalk Empire, got his hand in everything, steal power from his mentor (Pops) and has no hesitation to kill or mame anyone who gets in his way. Lastly, there is Diamondback, who is probably the most complex of the three as the underlying truth of his and Luke’s connections are the bane of his ill will towards him and his youthful indiscretion, of a prior betrayal. When he enters the series no one would ever think that he knew Luke prior to this confrontation (unless you read the comics). When they delve into their backstory is the exact moment, I found myself forgetting that this was a Netflix Marvel story, and saw it purely as a story, a damn good one, at that. The truth that they are blood brothers, prove to be too much for Luke. There’s also the experiential weapon that Diamondback wields as he carries a Bible just like he carries a gun. When Luke finally connects it all, the viewer gets a glimpse of how the two men saw the same scenes differently, and although Luke was considered the legitimate son, he assures Diamondback he was treated not so well himself. This level of story development would never have been seen on network TV, that is why Netflix’s flexibility is what makes this series so astonishingly good.

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With the advent and introduction of shows like Empire, and Black-ish, America has gotten a more well developed view of what Black Americans must face every day. But until shows like Atlanta, Queen Sugar, and Luke Cage, we now get to see some of Black America’s realities explored. Luke Cage, does not shy away from the issues from police brutality to stop and frisk, America gets to see just how those without privilege actually get treated, even if you have superpowers. This ended up creating a movement within the TV show which culminates with Method Man talking about how Luke Cage saved him and creates a folk hero rap song “Bulletproof Love” telling the world and the streets that everyone has Luke Cage’s back. This amount of love for a character has not been seen in the Marvel Universe, in the movies or television, in fact it is mostly venom that’s aimed out the “heroes.” Luke’s universe, like the rest of the Netflix shows, does not involve the bigger stages we see in the films, instead it just focuses on Harlem. That focused setting helps makes the series the best so far.

I did not want to end this review, without talking about the relationship of Luke and Pops. This by far is the most positive relationship of the whole series and is definitely a form of a father-son relationship. Pops’ wisdom and emotional intelligence only makes Luke a better man, and as his stance as “Switzerland” of Harlem is upended, that’s the point where Luke actually becomes the hero in his journey. We see Luke evolve as he cannot stay out of any wrongdoing anymore. Overall, it’s probably one of the best portrayals of a positive male relationship in a while.

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I often describe the series to friends since I binge watched it as “The Wire meets Barbershop,” which is the snapshot description, but not for the reasons most would think. I think it’s like The Wire, as it digs into the ills of society, and shows the world that not everything nor its inhabitants are black and white. It is like Barbershop because of the many issues that are discussed and how it shows what people would do when their backs are against the wall. Overall, it exceeds both of these, and more than sets the example for other comic book based series, that one does not need to appease to a wide appeal.

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