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Comix-to-Flix #38

COMIX-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column featuring reviews of comic book graphic novels that have been optioned to be made into motion pictures. Seeing as the universe of comic books and movies is becoming more and more connected, we figured that we may as well jump right into them as well, especially since we love both mediums to begin with. We hope that you enjoy this new addition to the site and be sure to email us with your thoughts.

Cage
by Brian Azzarello


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PLOT:

Luke Cage is an ex-con who was at one time wrongly imprisoned. Cage gained superhuman strength and was then cleared of the crime.

In this story an innocent young girl is gunned down in a drive-by shooting, her mother contacts Cage, a tough guy for hire, to find the killer. As Cage gets deeper into the investigation he finds that two rival gangs and the mob are linked to the crime.

“I hear you can take care a things the police can’t...”-Mrs. Dickens

Film Status:

Acclaimed director John Singleton is set to bring this classic Marvel character to life on the big screen. Singleton is responsible for “Boyz in the Hood” as well as another movie about a badass guy from New York City who has a reaaaaaaaal funky theme song. .

Tyrese Gibson is currently in negotiations to star in the movie that is scheduled for a 2008 release.

CRITIQUE:

“Cage”, thankfully, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Initially, one starts to think that the heavy subject matter in the story (drive-by killing) will result in a message heavy story. As more and more characters, especially the bad guys, are introduced it’s obvious that the theme of urban violence is simply a launching point for the story. That said, don’t expect a roller-coaster plot, this is simply an action story, period.

As I mentioned, the characters, especially the bad-guys give the story a “larger than life” feel. Brian Azzarello has added some interesting traits to his characters that make them truly memorable. For example, Sonny Caputo is known as “The Hammer” because he is extremely ugly and the head of a black gang, Lonnie “Tombstone” Lincoln, is an albino black man. Each character is a violent leader of a gang, but has their own unique persona.

“-‘fancul mio dottore e vaffancul’!" –Sonny “The Hammer” Caputo

The dialog in “Cage” is fun and sounds completely natural. It’s always risky to use accents and slang to create the feel of ethnicity as it may make the writer come off as racist. Azzarello doesn’t overuse this technique and when he does it, he does it well. Quotes such as, “Don’ wanna talk about it? S’coo, I respect that. A brotha’s past is his own, knowumsayin,” prove this point.

Note, and this is not a criticism, but “Cage” is obviously homage to “Shaft”. The plot surrounds a Harlem private investigator, Cage, who is asked to investigate a drive-by shooting that causes the death of an innocent girl. Eventually, Cage is forced into a war between rival gangs and the mafia. The plot for the original “Shaft” has John Shaft investigating the kidnapping of a young girl, the result of a gang war between the mob and a black gang. Hell, even the tagline from the 1971 movie “Shaft” was, “The mob wanted Harlem back. They got Shaft…up to here!”

Lastly, I love the artwork. Richard Corben, a comic veteran, has been working in the industry since the 60’s and has worked on everything from “Heavy Metal” to the “X-Men.” Corben’s work on “Cage” is so authentically “urban” that the reader is fooled to believing that the artist must have grown up in New York.. Corben’s adaptability to the different genres is proof of a true professional.

WHAT ELSE?

There is a “blaxploitatation” piece at the beginning of the book by Darius James. As well, there is an article on coloring the book and some sketches scattered throughout.

IN CONCLUSION:

Have some fun reading a not-to-serious book that is a throwback to blaxploitation films, most notably “Shaft.” In particular, enjoy the artwork and look forward to what will likely be a super-cool movie by John Singleton, director of “Shaft” and “Boyz in the Hood.”

“An’ since when did “legitimate businessmen” an’ five-oh make nice?"- Cage

GRAPHIC NOVEL RATING (7/10):

MOVIE POTENTIAL (7/10):

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