A heatwave has swept through Harlem and to make matters worse, a serial killer has started attacking the city’s wealthiest people. The Everyman Killer has riled up the already angry people in the city and Luke Cage has to act fast before more lives are taken. This is not the only challenge Luke is facing as he’s just received a frightening diagnosis. All his years of blows to the head have given him CTE and his life could be changed forever.
Luke Cage: Everyman works on these two separate narratives and writer Anthony Del Col juggles them incredibly well. Both plot threads are moved along at a nice pace and they’re both more than interesting enough to keep your attention. Let’s focus on the killer angle first.
The Everyman Killer frames the attacks in such a way that the rich and powerful deserved them. It’s more than a little unsettling to think about justifiable murder, but that’s what we’re presented with. The killer’s identity and how they’re committing these murders are a mystery that continues until the very end of this storyline.
Aiding the Everyman Killer in this is an unlikely villain in the form of Omega Red. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this guy pop up, let alone in Harlem, but he makes for a solid foe for Luke Cage. Artist Jahnoy Lindsay updates this staple of the ’90s so he looks more like a pale football player with mechanical whips. He’s every bit as deadly and can attack Luke from a distance.
Where Lindsay excels is in the design for Luke Cage. You can feel the strength the man carries even though his super power is not one you can see. His unbreakable skin is a part of him, so every step he takes has to be done carefully and with precision or else he could hurt someone else, even his own daughter. There’s a humble quality to Luke. He just wants what’s best for everyone and to be a good father.
His relationship with his daughter, Danielle is rather sweet. Here’s a man that can stop a truck just by standing in its way and he becomes a total softie when his kid is around. It’s perfect. This is where the CTE storyline really hits home. Luke grapples with how this will affect his family and the terrifying thought that he could hurt them as he loses his mental abilities. This is a lot to sift through while also fighting someone like Omega Red.
Much of this comes through in Luke’s inner narration as he’s frightened to share this diagnosis with anyone, even Jessica Jones. These pop up in perfectly placed caption boxes during scenes that would otherwise be a normal everyday occurrence. Letterer Clayton Cowles packs these with all the weight they deserve as they can be some rather sobering thoughts.
Although the heatwave is in full effect, it doesn’t affect the story all that much. I expected the coloring to be brighter so you can almost feel that heat coming off the page, but Ian Herring went with a more muted tone. The comic has a gritty feel to it which plays into the street level quality we’re used to with this character.
It’s funny to think that the same book that has an all-out brawl with Omega Red can also deliver some of the best and most realistic moments from Luke Cage. That’s what comics are capable of. You can have both crazy super hero fights and quiet emotional moments full of character development. That’s definitely the case with Luke Cage: Everyman and I hope we get to see more from this in the near future.