Luke Cage: Really About the SOUL of Harlem
So I am not afraid to admit as a kid I was a comic book junkie. I even started a lemon stand in Fort Benning, Georgia and it was profitable. Fate had the good fortune of moving us into a home where directly behind us was the medical processing center for new recruits. In 105 degree heat I was clearing $75 to $125 dollars a day. Let’s just say I was big pimpin’ in the comic book stores then. Power Man & Iron Fist were part of my comic book experience because of the raw and gritty style the streets provided.
I just binged watcher “Luke Cage” on NetFlix and it was good because it did not make too much of itself. It let the story development drive the train as opposed to a special effects cornucopia. We have seen bullet proof heroes before, whether through technology, demi-god status, freak accidents, or simple genetic mutation. In that vein, seeing Luke Cage in action is not breath taking; however, his character development was solid; as well as the supporting cast.
Where “Luke Cage” deviates from all the other super hero flicks in this genre is soul. The backdrop to “Luke Cage” is Harlem, New York. A part of New York City with deep roots in the Black community which experienced a Renaissance period. During this period the Harlem Renaissance birthed acclaimed: writers, poets, dancers, singers, actors, musicians, politicians, and activist. This very period is the reoccurring theme throughout “Luke Cage.” This is not just a show about a Black Super hero, but a history lesson of the Black experience in Harlem.
There is also a spiritual lesson in “Luke Cage” because the soul of Harlem is often mentioned. It is a soul with duality. This duality consist of the classic good and evil paradigm of all things. On one side you have Renaissance Harlem which consist of Black individuals who left an indelible impression and legacy on the world. The other side of that is Black organized crime flourished out of Harlem during the 19th and 20th centuries. Luke Cage resurrected Stephanie Saint-Clair who was a mob boss who even deflected Italian mafia attempts to dethrone her. Alfe Woodard, plays Luke Cage antagonist Mariah Dillard, whose inspiration is obviously Stephanie Saint-Clair, now that she is running organized crime in Harlem.
Also, the soul of Harlem transcends physicality because the soul is the energy that drives the idea. This soul is magnetic and because it is positive it is adopted by positive people. There is also a lesson where the dark side of Harlem’s organized crime work to improve the community through investment in housing and other beneficial community infrastructures. It shows you how the serpent seed can do good while doing bad things. The argument will always go back to testing the spirit because if you just look at the fruit you will get it wrong. In other words just because you use criminal funds to open a soup kitchen it came with the price of blood.
There are many lessons to glean from watching “Luke Cage” and the biggest one will probably be the Harlem history lesson. Which is delivered by characters who are driven by their love for the city of Harlem. Harlem is an idea which was once magical and now is not and this will keep Luke Cage busy for many seasons to come. Grade: B+
Michael Erevna, is Editor-in-chief of RevelationNow.net