“Then what’s the point of all the things we’ve fought for together?”
David Walker (W), Sanford Greene, Flaviano (A), John Rauch (CA)
Cover by Sanford Greene
Publisher: Marvel Comics
*Ties into Marvel’s Civil War II
Before we start, I do want to touch base about my reviews of the Thunderbolts. I genuinely intended to review every issue of that series, but now I am two issues behind. I won’t lie, reviewing #5 just slipped my mind. I haven’t been able to get a hold of #6 yet because my comic books store didn’t get any issues of it. They’ll hopefully get them this week, and I’ll review #5 and #6 next weekend, and we’ll be back on track from there.
Anywho, back to the Luke Cageathon with Power Man and Iron Fist #9. This comic has managed to stay among my favorites with every issue. David Walker and Sanford Greene are dynamic duo on par with the heroes they are making a comic about. It’s got humor, heart, and action. Its tie-in to Civil War II has explored the themes of that story better than the mini-series itself. It’s one of my favorite things to come out of that story (along with the Ultimates and Thunderbolts tie-ins).
The story of its Civil War II tie-in has been about some people in Kevlar ambushing small-time reformed criminals, technologically editing their rap sheet to have a warrant, and hauling them to prison on false charges. The reunited duo of Power Man and Iron Fist were approached by family members of these criminals as well as Disco Devil and Cockroach Hamilton to investigate. Shortly after they did, Iron Fist was arrested for “assaulting a police officer” and thrown in Ryker’s with some other falsely accused former criminals.
Luke began cooperating with Gadget, Senor Magico, Disco Devil, and Cockroach. to figure out what exactly is happening. He runs out of ideas on how to get Danny out, and he approaches Thunderbolts-alumni Songbird and Centurius to help him. While he was meeting up with them, Captain Marvel, Spectrum, Puck, Deathlok, Mockingbird, and a number of S.H.I.E.L.D agents ambush him because Ulysses had a vision that Luke would stage a prison break. They want to arrest Luke and he isn’t willing to let that happen. Naturally, a conflict ensues.
This issue, Luke Cage, Songbird, and Centurius continue fighting Captain Marvel and her posse. The fight causes Ryker’s to get cracked open, and Iron Fist and a number of inmates join the fight. Before they know it, they have a prison break.
Meanwhile, Disco Devil and Cockroach confront the bail bondsmen who are behind the false arrests. An old-fashioned Mexican standoff ensues until a mysterious hooded figure teleports in and takes the two bondsmen. He then offers Disco Devil and Cockroach a job.
Back at Luke’s hideout, Gadget and Senor Magico continue to try to hack into the device that the bondsmen had been using to arrest people, and some sort of demonic spirit comes out of the device to defend it. Magico manages to defeat it, and the same hooded figure teleports in and takes the device away.
The heroes at Ryker’s manage to quash the breakout, with the exception of a few escapees (including Black Mariah), and Captain Marvel confronts Luke once again. He gives her a dressing-down about how messed up everything she’s doing is, and she allows Luke and Danny to walk free. The issue ends with Luke admitting that a part of him was genuinely considering a breakout to save Danny.
I loved this issue through and through. The plot moved quickly, the tension was there, the action was great, and the characters shined. I love the “fight the power” vibe that Power Man and Iron Fist were putting out in this story arc.
This story didn’t last too long either, only about four issues, and this entire book was its climactic finale. It wasn’t spread across two or three issues like many comic book climaxes are these days. That was smart on David Walker’s part, and I appreciate it.
As I said, I genuinely feel this story explored the ins and outs of “predictive justice” far better than the main Civil War II story does. Danny is arrested by folks on a power trip. Captain Marvel has a theory given to her by Ulysses that Luke may stage a breakout, and it leads to her profiling Luke Cage for something he hadn’t done. “Profiling” is sort of a loaded word these days, but there’s no other way to put what Carol did in this comic. Sometimes comics explore serious social issues, and I think that’s a good thing, especially when they do it well like this one did. The ending may seem like sort of a copout to some people, but I feel that it helped complicate the issue in a manner appropriate to the complexity of the subject matter. Cage was thinking about breaking into prison. We all have bad instincts from time to time, and they can lead to trouble. What if we could prevent those bad instincts? Like I said, it’s a complicated issue, and it’s worth exploring.
It does leave some things a little open-ended. Danny is the only one who is let out, so there are still some innocents left in Ryker’s. Plus, they still haven’t caught the guys who were behind all of this. However, I am willing to give this comic the benefit of the doubt and assume that a lot of this will be explained in follow-up issues.
As always, Sanford Greene’s art is spot-on in this comic. He really shows off his talent for depicting elaborate action sequences in this book. Some of the panels do a fantastic job of depicting the drama of the situation. I really dig his art style.
Sometimes it’s easier to explain why something is bad than it is explaining why something is good. I did my best to explain why this issue may be the best of an already-awesome series. I highly, highly recommend this book. You don’t need to follow Civil War II to understand this story, and it even fills you in pretty well on the Power Man and Iron Fist story so far. So if you’re new to the series, you won’t be lost. Read this comic.
Final Score: 9.5/10
(I think this is the first time I’ve felt it necessary to use a half measure)