Last year, readers were introduced to Luther Strode, the scrawny, average guy who became a violent, muscle-bound he-man through an old "body by Atlas" type of book. With his powers came an enemy, the Librarian, who also possessed the same strength and nigh-invulnerability. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode helped launched the budding careers of both writer Justin Jordan and artist Tradd Moore.Newsarama had the chance to chat with these rising creators about the upcoming sequel The Legend of Luther Strode coming out this December by Image Comics, and what fans can expect from Luther this time around. Courtesy of Tradd, we have some never-before-seen art to show here, including the first three pages of the new series in their entirety.
Newsrama: Set the stage for us, Justin, how much time has passed since the events of the "Strange Talent"?
Justin Jordan: Five years, give or take. Five long blood-soaked years. Our boy Luther has been busy spending most of his time murdering his way through the criminal element in the tristate area. This has kept him on the move, but his years of mayhem have finally caught up with him, which is where the story begins.Nrama: Was a sequel always in the works or was it something that came to you later on?
Jordan: Well, it definitely came to me before the series actually hit the stands, but I can’t quite remember how long before. I was finished with the series a long time before we actually went to press, so it’s all a little muddy to me now.
But what happened was that I was working out all the backstory for the world and the general plot of the story and I realized that were more stories that I wanted to tell. Strange Talent of Luther Strode was about, in a way, getting what you want and having it cost you everything.
"Legend" is about what you do after that, and whether it’s possible to come back from it. Legacy, if we get to do that one, is about making your place in the world and becoming what you want to be.So that all happened pretty early on in the process, but I never really dreamed we’d get to do it. Hoped, yes, expected, no.
Nrama: Both you guys broke out and have been keeping busy, what's it like returning to the world of Luther and company?
Jordan: Good! And difficult at the same time. Fortunately, it hasn’t been all that long since we did "Strange Talent". I mean, a lot of stuff has happened, but I wrote the last issue of it in June or July of 2011, and I started up again in April or thereabouts of 2012.
But it was more difficult, because when we did "Strange Talent", no one knew who we were. So if I sucked, well, it was just me that would know it. But Luther was a pretty big success, and so now we have fans and attention. Which is awesome, but if you’re as crazy as I am, that also means you get a big heaping helping of performance anxiety. But I got through it. There are worse problems to have, you know?Tradd Moore: Even though we haven't taken too long of a break in between series, it still feels great to be at it again. While I love taking on new projects and trying my hand with different characters, time periods, and worlds, there's something special about working on characters that you've created and/or just spent a lot of time working on. I don't have to think much while drawing Luther. The story, the characters, and all the crazy action/violence lulls me in a zen drawing trance.
Nrama: Tradd, you had the experience of drawing some pretty over-the-top scenes in last installment, what can we expect here?
Moore: MORE. The tone is a good bit different this time around, though. While "Strange Talent" obviously had a bevy of hyper-violence, there really weren't a whole lot of genuine fight scenes. Fight scenes with an ebb and flow where both parties actually stood a chance, you know? Most of the action was very one sided (final fight between Luther and the Librarian notwithstanding) and typically involved one character simply brutalizing all those around him. They were horror movie-type fight scenes. AKA murder scenes."Legend" leans more toward straight up ACTION. Karate chops, machine guns, cars, chasing, punching, kicking, etc. All that good stuff. Like, imagine if The Bourne Ultimatum was as violent as Ninja Scroll and Matt Damon was a hulking super-human death machine. That's kind of what to expect.
Nrama: Do you think your art style has evolved or changed any since then?
Moore: Yeah, I definitely think my style has evolved since "The Strange Talent". I feel like artists naturally grow and develop stylistically and technically, especially in their early years, with every page and issue we do. I'm getting more comfortable with inks and with having the courage to simply try whatever comes to my head on any given panel/page, regardless of the outcome. I'm just having a lot of fun and letting my art go in whatever direction the wind takes me. So yeah, hopefully people like how it turns out!
Nrama: After the events of "Talent", most of the supporting characters met quite the bloody end. Who is accompanying him on his journey here?
Jordan: Luther is pretty much going it alone. He’s going to get some unexpected allies, but also some unexpected enemies. But yeah, after the bloodbath we had going on last time, we’ve got virtually a brand new cast. There is a guest appearance from someone who only made a one panel appearance in the last one, though.Nrama: Tradd you illustrated some pretty violent imagery in the last installment. Are you upping the ante here for what fans can expect as far as that goes?
Moore: Well, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that fans expecting a really violent book will certainly get what they came for. I'm not going out of my way to "out-violent" "Strange Talent" or anything like that, but "The Legend" is, in my opinion, a faster paced and more consistently frenetic story. So yeah, fans are very safe in expecting a whole lot of dismemberment and arterial spray.
Nrama: Is there anything else you guys have in the works or something down the pipeline you'd like to share with readers?
Moore: I have some cool stuff coming up, but I don't think I'm at liberty to publicly share it just yet, god---- it. Justin, however, has about 40 different things going on.
Jordan: Well, in addition to Legend and my ongoing Team 7 stuff, I'll be doing issues fifteen and sixteen of Deathstroke for DC, and my run on Valiant's Shadowman starts in November, and I think anyone that digs Luther Strode will actually like both of those. I've got one more project in mid swing that hasn't been announced yet, and I'm pitching several more creator-owned things. Got to keep busy!