Written by Justin Jordan and superbly drawn by Tradd Moore, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode is a gloriously violent and enchanting comic book that I recommend for lapsed comic fans who think their old hobby is a bit twee. Luther Strode is your average Peter Parker protagonist who gets roundly bullied with best mate Pete, while classmate Petra serves as the red headed bombshell love interest (always with the red heads in comics.) Rather than a radioactive spider bite, Luther gets his powers from a from a bodybuilding course from an old comic book that grant him superhuman strength. Besting the bullies at dodgeball and getting the girl is made a lot easier, but Luther soon begins to attract the attention of some very bad people as things escalate in one of the most visceral and relentless stories committed to comic page.
Jordan pitched Strange Talent as a “What would happen to Peter Parker if Uncle Ben wasn’t around to impart the with great power comes great responsibility life lesson”. I’d describe Strange Talent as a Spider-Man story written by Quentin Tarantino – the story beats seem familiar but everything is just that bit more… grimey. While Luther is a geek from a one parent household, it’s because his father is a wife beating alcoholic serving time in prison. The story starts near the end and works its way backwards. Dialogue is clever in that post modern “you’ve seen this story, but not quite like this” way. Best friend Pete, serves as the pop culture referencing comic relief and Petra holds her own as the love interest who has more to do than get kidnapped and suspended from a bridge.
In short, plot good. Now let’s get down to the pictures, because Strange Talent deserves some of your reading time for its gloriously insane, ridiculously graphic violence. Proper comic book violence. If you’re a fan of cult Japanese film and manga series Ricki Ohor Fist Of The North Star you get an idea of the wanton destruction Luther leaves in his wake. Heads explode and limbs are severed with ridiculous effect. The first double page spread in the first issue opens with this.
Bit sick? Most definitely. Strange Talent Of Luther Strode is definitely a comic book for the mature reader and it’s not one to be read on the commute home, if only so people don’t have to see your “recoil in disgust” face.
If you think you have the stomach for it I can’t recommend Strange Talent Of Luther Strode enough; a critical and commercial hit, Strange Talent has helped the creative duo of Jordan and Moore land jobs all over the comic scene, with high-profile gigs on DC Comics' Team 7 series and Valiant Comics' Shadowman book.
There’s also the small issue of the sequel to Strange Talent, called The Legend Of Luther Strode. Now the opening page of that has put me off ever of ever using the peep hole to my front door in case this happens to my head.
But that’s a gushing feature for another time.
You can download the pdf of issue 1 of Strange Talent Of Luther Strode for free here