The sole reason why you have heard of the names Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore is because of Luther Strode. Legacy is their third incarnation of the book and follows Strange Talent of and Legend of, but this time Luther is presently slightly differently. Even the cover is more valiant and bold compared to the brutal destruction of a Strode gone by. When you open the book, it instantly harks back to a potential origin of the hero, one we all have heard of before: Samson. The first six pages tell the story of a man of great might and power who falls for a beautiful and loving lady, Delilah. Alas once the betrayal is complete, the hair is shaved, everything falls around him whilst his lover turns her back. It is incredible how Tradd Moore has evolved as an artist because he can turn his hand to a multitude of sequences, whether it is the one man desolation or the euphoric love of a romance. It all melds into one intense emotional thrill because those feelings reverberate through the page. Samson’s murder of an army is depicted on a double page spread in a fantastic but unique way. We see the sway and movement of Samson wielding his weapon and the following trail is a stylish wave of white and black in a red blood soaked scene. It invokes a path of utter annihilation, and if that wasn’t enough the nine-panel letterbox gives snapshots of eyes being slashed, jaws being mutilated and viscious beheadings. The lower half of the page is simply the wake and a man unenthused at the actions he just carried out. The art just speaks volumes in the most barbaric way and Sobreiro’s colouring lets you think in no other way. All these serves as a ominous warning for our noble hero, with blond flowing locks and white hanging robes, that times are a changing for Luther Strode.
This is a mighty forty-page comic and the rest is solely focused upon the aftermath of the previous story arc, where Luther is incarcerated, bloodied, battered but escapes to rescue his love Petra. There is an interesting parallel developing between Delilah and Petra but it remains quite subtle. Petra, a foul mouthed, impulsive, violence adoring unconventional woman, is far from the lady you would imagine by the side of this incarnation of Luther. Whereas in the previous two volumes, she was the exactly kind of person you would want for him, but five years later they seemed to have moved in opposite directions. Jordan establishes very quickly that this is not the case, as their love is quite unquestionable. Living in an idyllic refuge far from trouble was never going to last long, as certain events spring Strode back to his old life. He is more the reluctant hero now than he has ever been, as he genuinely seems to have found peace with Petra despite her shaven head, obsessive gun toting and petulance. The second half of the book sees some truly exemplary demonstrations of action, movement and violence.
Moore’s action sequences move so quickly and vibrantly that they seem to jump off the page in slow motion. It is as if there was a movie director making full use of his special effects department with characters flying through the air, the ground vibrating like fluid and bodies disintegrating in examples of raw energy. Each panel seems to provide a pause in motion to allow the reader to see posture and the readying of the next movement. We are catching glimpses during a playback of stunning motion, similar to watching classic kung fu manga. There are breathtaking uses of panelling, such as the zooming into Strode’s feet as he leaps onto a car bonnet or the hurling of a villain through a wall as a lorry slowly passes the other side. It is just non-stop and surprisingly does not become boring because the scene moves from bar to rooftop to cars and lorries. Felipe Sobreiro is also responsible for the effervescence of the motion because the punches fizz with sparks, the cars blaze a trail of fire with the backgrounds changing in colour to reflect the mood of the fight.
Aside from the astounding ferocity of action, I found proportionally less depth to the characters in the last volume. The love of Petra and Luther was the one bond that gave a reason for the savagery but this opening comic portrays a different kind of story. It is no longer a test of strength because we have had two whole story arcs proving that is certainly Strode, but perhaps more of a test of love. It is not as if Strode is looking for a confrontation, but there are moments where he is called into the fray because no one else will. Despite his amazing ability to mutilate and destroy, he is remarkably calm after his actions. This latest arc is going to change that and there are many moments in this issue where Luther looks quite resigned and solemn, fitting with a dialogue of regret and upset. As he stares through the hole in his enemy’s head, he looks desperately sad, echoing the opening pages of Samson’s parable. Those feelings all wash away with the sight of his beloved, and a smile re-emerges making all well again. But for how long will love justify the barbarity and how long can Luther keep fighting? Is this desire for justice and negation of the enemy an honourable one or maybe he has become dependent on Petra being at his side? But what happens if that stops being the case? Like Samson, if you remove the strength of a man, what is left to fight for? There are so many possibilities open to the story that I am very excited to see how it will progress, and how it’ll link together with the tragedy that was Samson and Delilah.
“I’m not here to fight you”