I started this site way back when with the name “Comic Book Clog” because I liked the name, the imagery it invoked, but more to the point, it’s the way I felt about comics at the time. For example: to follow Batman, you had to read all of the Batman family books. (I made a video about this an even longer time ago.) Same goes for Spider-Man… and this is how it’s been for a long time. Then it became that way for other characters and groups like X-Men, The Avengers and so on. It became too much (both from a content and cost standpoint) and it pushed me out of a ton of books.
And now, I feel that it’s reached this critical point on TV.
While I’m still watching the movies (although DC/WB has tried my patience – it’s great that 93% of reviews for Wonder Woman are positive, but a 7.6 average score isn’t exactly, “run, don’t walk” territory), it’s hard for me to get excited about comic books on TV.
I started watching Agents of SHIELD because I like the actor who plays Coulson as well as the character and a TV show seemed to be the perfect place to explore the MCU. I enjoyed the first season and the way they tied it into Winter Soldier, but as the show devolved into Daisey’s Agents of X-Men somewhere in season 3, I completely lost interest. (I’ve talked about this before.)
So, I moved into the Netflix corner of the MCU. There, I enjoyed season 1 of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but Matt Murdock’s season 2 didn’t wow me the way the first one did and I have yet to finish Luke Cage or even start Iron Fist.
And don’t even get me started on Gotham.
So where do I go from here? I watched the first few episodes of Supergirl and quickly got bored, I enjoyed the first episode of Arrow but immediately forgot it existed… and wtf is Preacher? I heard The Gifted was good, but I just haven’t gotten to it. Does it tie in with the X-Men movies? I’m not sure I have the energy for that at this point.
I’ve reached saturation. To everybody else, hang in there.
Now that Iron Fist has finally come out, Netflix is moving forward with the big team up. The Defenders will feature all four heroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, much of their supporting casts, and there are rumors about the Punisher popping up. They have finally given us a release date: August 18th. And there’s a very short trailer going around now that really isn’t much more than all four of them in an elevator. Personally, I’m looking forward to this.
Netflix’s Luke Cage wraps up season one with “Now You Know My Steez.” This is another one that I had no idea at all what it meant, so I went a-researching. According to what I could find, “steez” is “style with ease.” It’s a good episode, but no one has what I’d call an easy time of it.
Oh, as a warning, there are spoilers in this review. I try not to do that as a rule, but I don’t see a good way around it for a finale. I’ll avoid the ones I can, but there are some in here, so don’t read if you haven’t seen this episode, or care about spoilers.
Considering the way the last episode ended, there’s no surprise at all about where this one starts. Cage and Diamondback finally have their big fight: Cage’s powers vs. Diamondback’s suit. I’ve complained several times in past reviews about where that suit came from. We finally find out, and I’m still not sure it makes sense, but I guess I’ll shut up about it. It does level the field between Cage and Stryker. The fight is intercut with flashbacks from the two of them being younger and training in boxing.
The fight takes up a good piece of the episode. There were a few things I think Luke should have done differently, but hey, it’s not my fault or my archenemy. They pretty much trash Pop’s again, poor place. They also get a lot of media coverage, which Mariah spins to more in her favor and anti-Cage. I swear, they’d be better off if Cornell Stokes had lived and Mariah Dillard died. She’s just so slimy and annoying.
Cage has been gaining in popularity in the neighborhood, and it’s great seeing that here. The crowd chants his name, watches (and videos) the fight. Despite Stryker being such a smug and vicious bad guy, Cage manages to win. Of course, it’s a mixed victory as he’s promptly arrested, or allows himself to be arrested, anyway.
Claire sees the fight and rushes to the scene. Candace, the very important hostess turned waitress, is at Soledad (Claire’s mom)’s place and Claire tells her to stay there. Claire leaves among some teasing from her mother. As the fight ends, Misty also arrests Mariah, who takes it about as well as you’d expect.
As the Misty, Luke, and Claire group gets to the precinct, they are swarmed by reporters. They call Luke a hero, which he disputes. Luke’s attitude throughout the series has been very admirable. He has quiet courage and determination. So far, I think I like him best of the Netflilx heroes we’ve seen. As Ridley very pointedly brings up the warrants for Luke’s arrest, Claire mentions she knows a really good attorney. This is far from the only time she hints about Matt “Daredevil” Murdock during Luke’s stay at the precinct. I wonder if that’s going to come up in the future.
Cage declines the implied help of Daredevil and says he’ll speak for himself. Inspector Ridley stays fairly adversarial towards Luke, which annoys Claire, Misty and most of the fans. Overall, the cops are being accommodating to Luke, despite Ridley’s best efforts, and a bit less so with Dillard. Between them, Luke and Claire do a good bit to refute the charges against Luke, and Claire makes a very basic suggestion the cops seem to have utterly overlooked.
The majority of the rest of the show is at the precinct. It’s really interesting watching the markedly different ways Luke and Mariah handle being there. Luke is positive and inspiring and even impresses the cops hanging around listening. Mariah is ugly, lashing out at everyone. It’s some very nice writing and good acting on both their parts.
By the end of the police scenes, there are some unfortunate but expected developments. The US Marshals show up to take Luke into custody because of his escape from Seagate. The interesting balance he strikes with them is going along, but refusing cuffs (not that they’d do much anyway). Mariah, due to some really ugly events, goes free, just as smug as ever. Harlem’s Paradise reopens. Diamondback, at least, is in custody, but the last scene with him and another supporting character make me wonder about what his future holds. And one of the last few scenes holds out some hope for Luke’s immediate future.
What I liked: Mike Colter is just really impressive as Luke Cage, both in this episode and throughout the series. Claire is a great character who is, at this point, my favorite in the Netflix portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A hero is only as good as his bad guys in many respects, and I enjoyed Shades, and thought Mariah made a good foe. The music was great during the entire run. I loved seeing the people of Harlem support Luke. I would have liked something closer to a “happy ending,” but the way they did it made sense. The two Marshals at the end were actually reasonable, likeable characters.
What I didn’t: Diamondback is the closest I think we’ve seen to “just plain evil” as a bad guy on the MCU. He certainly has the most pathetic motivation. I still don’t think the suit explanation works too well. I never really got a good sense of what was going on in Inspector Ridley’s head. I went from wondering if she was crooked to maybe stupid to just plain didn’t like Luke.
I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5. I’ll give the series a 5 out of 5. So far, it stands at the head of the Netflix/Marvel series for me. But my personal favorite is up next, so I’ll have to see how they do with Cage’s best friend in the comics, Iron Fist.
March is too far off.
Luke Cage reaches the penultimate episode with “Soliloquy of Chaos,” which is one of their more poetic titles. Things start building up towards a major showdown for the finale, and they move the pieces around really well. They are setting up for what should be a really impressive last episode.
They continue their trend of picking up exactly where they left off. We come back to Cage’s Harlem immediately after the chaos of the hostage situation at the club. Cage is being shackled and cuffed by the ESU officers, and Misty is being treated for her gunshot. She ends up talking to Luke for a few moments before they take him away. Cage gets warned the cops have the Judas bullets. Man, those went into production fast, especially considering how expensive the big ones were that Styrker/Diamondback was using on Cage earlier.
On the way to the precinct, Cage apparently decides he’s had enough. The shackles and chains and such aren’t any real challenge to a man with his powers, and he bursts out the back of the transport van easily. He leads them on a chase through alleys and basements and tunnels and then has a really unexpected ending to the pursuit that I really liked.
Media has played a big part in the Luke Cage series and has a really large presence this episode. Part of it is the news, which is covering Cage’s escape in a very negative (understandably so) light. That makes Stryker smile, which is just creepy. Stryker ends up taking a meeting with Turk, the weapons dealer we usually see on Daredevil who popped up here briefly earlier. They cut a deal and Zip comes in, apparently trying to do a Shades impression. Styker is not amused. Turk warns Zip not to trust Stryker on his way out. Turk, for all his horrid choices, is a perceptive thug.
Domingo and his gang plot to take Stryker out, and decide they should go for it, just to make things even more complicated. While that bit of chaos (nice callback to the title) goes on, there’s a lot more happening at the precinct. Shades gets a mugshot taken, and he’s looking very much the worse for wear. Inspector Ridley and Misty talk about a few things, including the fact that Misty really should be at home, considering she has the bullet hole in her and all. They argue about Cage, which seems to be their big, ongoing disagreement. Misty comes up with a great explanation as to why Luke might be on the run, and, given today’s climate, I have to say she makes a good point.
Inside Harlem’s Paradise, Mariah is surveying the damage. She’s understandably upset about the mess, and talks to Alex about the place being her legacy. She blames Diamondback for her family being in tatters, and throws a bit of a temper tantrum. Her ever-faithful aide Alex is there with her, and takes things in an unexpected direction. He also shows that he can be just as ruthless as she is.
Cage himself is walking down the street in his bullet-ridden hoodie, which isn’t exactly subtle. He sighs as he sees thugs going in to a corner store, muttering that he doesn’t have time for this even as he goes to stop the robbery. Improbably, the customer inside is rapper Method Man, who is very impressed with Cage’s powers and determination to help. Method Man even ends up switching hoodies with Cage, and very delighted with the bullet holes.
Candace calls Misty, clearly distraught, and sets up a meeting. Shades and Ridley have their own conversation, which shows that Shades has a lot of experience with his end of the criminal justice system, which makes Shades look good and Ridley a bit like an idiot. Misty meets Candace, who finally tells the truth, praising Luke for his heroics and inspiring her to do what’s right. They’re not alone for their meeting, which is likely going to complicate things down the road.
Method Man goes on the radio, also praising Luke Cage. As the show and later Method Man’s rap goes out on the air, we see that Cage has a lot of supporters, who come up with a really clever and perfectly legal way of slowing down the police manhunt. I have to admit it was one of the most clever and inspiring bits they’ve done on the show so far. It was nice seeing Luke get some support from someone besides Claire and Bobby. There are more radio call-ins about Luke in the background.
The police try and raid Pop’s barber shop, which still is in dire need of barbers. It does have Bobby, playing chess by himself. The cops don’t find Luke, and end up leaving empty-handed. Just after the cops leave, Luke turns up to talk to Bobby about what to do next. They brainstorm a bit and Bobby calls Turk with a shady deal to lure him out.
Shades gets the next few scenes. He is released on bail, to Ridley’s bafflement, and some of his own. Zip takes him somewhere for a meeting, and Shades is smart enough to realize things aren’t going his way. The two of them have a final showdown, and really, who do you think is going to come out on top of that one?
Mariah has another meeting with Alex and sees him out. Then she gets a surprise visitor and ends up having a long talk with Diamondback/Stryker. Stryker is creepy and manipulative, but smart. Mariah holds her own all right, and gets a welcome surprise from Stryker, which may be a first. Usually his surprises tend to be lethal.
Cage catches up with Turk and gets some information out of him. He then leaves him someplace where Cage can find him later if he needs to. Elsewhere, Domingo’s gang goes after Stryker. It’s an ugly gunfight that ends with one of those lethal surprises I was talking about earlier.
Mariah is trying to get some quiet time to think, but gets another visitor. She and Shades plot and decide their best play is getting Luke to go after Stryker. This is the only time I can remember thinking both of them were dumb, since Cage and Stryker are heading for a showdown anyway. They do have some nice leverage to motivate Luke though.
Speaking of, Cage goes to the warehouse where Domingo and company fought Diamindback’s crew. He finds a lot of wreckage, blood, and one survivor. He also finds a bomb. Diamondback isn’t worried about property damage, that’s for sure. Cage manages another last minute rescue, although Domingo only lasts long enough to tell Cage what happened. They do a great scene shift from there to one of Misty’s picture collections. She decides to follow up on a lead, and leaves. I have to say, she’s healing remarkably fast.
After Misty and Cage compare a few notes, we get to the final scene of the episode. Shades and Mariah go to Pop’s. For reasons which escape me, Bobby is still there in the middle of the night. Does the man never go home? Tensions rise as first Cage, then Misty join the group. Then, just to make it as bad as possible, Diamondback shows up, looking the closest to his comic book incarnation we’ve ever seen. As things shape up for the final battle, one thing is sure: Bobby is going to need to get the barber shop repaired again.
What I liked: It was great to see that Luke was finally getting some support from the people. I loved the big shell game on the streets, and the arguments Method Man made in his defense. Shades continues to be my favorite of the bad guys, and his fight scene was really well done. I’m glad Candace is coming clean. Bobby’s line about just getting the shop fixed up and Cage’s scene with Turk were probably the two funniest.
What I didn’t: I still don’t get where Diamondback’s combat rig came from. There’s a big gap between using Chitauri metal for bullets (they left enough of it all over New York) and making a device that does something we never saw during the Battle. While I don’t know what she would have done this episode, I missed Claire.
I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I’m really looking forward to Luke wiping that smug grin off of Stryker’s face.
Luke Cage episode 11, “Now You’re Mine,” picks up right where episode ten, “Take It Personal,” left off. The gunfight is raging at Harlem’s Paradise, and people are wisely running for their lives. Cage is crouched behind the bar, shielding Misty as best he can with his bulletproof body. Cage signs for Claire to stay where she is, out of harm’s (at least immediate) way, and Shades is out on the street looking surprised. I keep thinking of Shades as Wile E Coyote and his succession of bosses (Stokes, now Diamondback) as the ACME products: Shades has things under control until something blows up in his face. I almost feel bad for him. Read the rest of this entry
Luke Cage 10, “Take It Personal.” is a bit shorter on action than some of the other episodes, but makes up for it with surprise reveals and plotting. You can see things building up for what will likely be the big final conflicts. For someone who showed up so late in the story, Stryker is becoming a very central player to the various plots. Read the rest of this entry
Luke Cage’s ninth episode is the somewhat confusingly titled DWYCK. They never explain this during the actual show, so I had to go hunting around a bit before I found out that means, “Do What You Can, Kid.” I don’t know where that’s from, but I’d never heard it/seen it before this. EDIT: Apparently the initials are from a song that had a somewhat shady meaning, and, as Cage tends to do, he gave it a better meaning. Read the rest of this entry
Luke Cage’s eighth episode is “Blowin’ Up The Spot,” and opens where the last one stopped, with Luke and Claire both very surprised that he got shot. He gets taken away in an ambulance, which Claire says is being driven by a friend of hers who is “discreet.” It doesn’t matter how discreet he is, as the shooter follows them and uses some kind of explosive to knock the ambulance over. The shooter stalks them, and apparently knows Cage from his early life, as he calls him, “Carl.” Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been reading comics a long time. I remember reading a good bit of the original run of Power Man and Iron Fist. I’ve always enjoyed the pair, and their odd friendship. The new title has been enjoyable, and I’m happy they are back together. The current issue is a really fine piece of writing. Read the rest of this entry
“Manifest” is the seventh Luke Cage episode. It starts off with an amusing scene of Zip trying to do a gun deal. Cage walks up, and everyone runs off to his, “Do I even have to say it?” Zip makes an ominous comment and then runs off after his clients while Luke makes short work of the guns. Read the rest of this entry