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Comic Book / The Strange Talent of Luther Strode

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The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is about your average geek, the eponymous Luther Strode. Tired of being bullied, Luther sends for an exercise course from the back of an old comic book. What he gets is the instruction manual from a murder cult as old as mankind that does everything that it promised—and more!

A six issue mini series written by Justin Jordan, illustrated by Tradd Moore and colored by Felipe Sobreiro, this Image Comics imprint is a demented deconstruction of Charles Atlas Superpower. It also contains some "sweet, sweet ultraviolence" in the words of the writer. In other words, it is not for the faint of heart.

The first issue of the sequel, The Legend of Luther Strode, was released on December 5, 2012 and wrapped up with its sixth issue on August 7th, 2013.

The first issue of the final miniseries, The Legacy of Luther Strode, was released on April 8, 2015 and concluded May 25 2016.

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode contains examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: The people that Luther horrifically murders aren't very nice people to begin with.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: One of the key tenets of the philosophy espoused by the murder cult that the Librarian represents. It is not surprising considering that its founder is Cain from The Bible.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: It's shown that any student of the Hercules Method gains the ability to read the moves of others perfectly to the point that it borders on clairvoyance. Doesn't work so well on other practitioners of the Hercules Method as Luther learns in his first meeting with the Librarian.
  • Barbarian Long Hair: Luther in Legacy
  • Been There, Shaped History: Delilah has been around for about 3000 years and has been attempting to spread Cain's philosophy to individuals who accepted Cain's Hercules Method. Those who didn't fulfill her expectations, she had killed or ruined in some way or another. Those individuals include Jeanne d'Arc, Samson, and Hercules.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: As shown in the comics, the Biblical Samson, his consort Delilah, and Jack the Ripper were all practitioners of the Hercules Method which allowed them to accomplish the feats that made them famous (or infamous). Cain himself was the first practitioner and invented the Hercules Method.
  • Berserk Button: Luther's is men threatening or hurting women. This is because his dad used to abuse his mother.
  • Biblical Bad Guy: Who else would be better to run an ancient murder cult than the first murderer himself?
  • Big Bad: The Librarian.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy / Red Eyes, Take Warning: Students of the Hercules Method show notably red irises with black sclera when using their powers or simply feeling emotions of aggression or alertness.
  • Born into Slavery: The Shooter was originally a nameless African slave in the past before discovering the Hercules Method.
  • Boxed Crook: The bound are occasional released to recapture other students. Deconstructed: the second The Binder is too injured to stop him, Jack the Ripper kills him and runs off to commit an atrocity.
  • But I Read a Book About It: How students usually learn the Hercules Method.
  • Cain: The story is about the eponymous character gaining superpowers thanks to the Hercules Method based on a Religion of Evil, made by none other than Cain himself who's alive and is the Big Bad of the story.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Deconstructed. The Hercules Method can turn you into an incredibly powerful being but at a steep price. In the end of Strange Talent, Luther is so distraught that he doesn't bother defending himself when he is being gunned by the police. Unfortunately for him it doesn't take and he wakes up in the morgue after being processed for death. though it was already hinted he was basically bulletproof after being shot when he went to rescue Petra.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fact Luther can catch bullets with his muscles is notably focused on after he's shot by a gangbanger. This ends up being the reason he survives his Suicide by Cop attempt at the end of Strange Talent.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: "Meat-vision," the horrifying aspect of the Hercules Method.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Users of the Hercules Methods generally hand these out to whoever tries to attack them. A more startling example would be Cain's utter decimation of Musashi simply by breaking out of his own chains.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Petra.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Luther and Petra both get a few choice lines.
  • Death by Irony: Cain ends up killed by Luther, a follower of the Hercules Method that Cain had originally invented, using the same method Cain used to kill his brother Abel to become the First Murderer, a large stone to smash his head to a pulp.
  • Death Seeker: Luther in the Strange Talents.
  • Deconstructed Trope:
    • The series primarily picks apart Charles Atlas Superpower, Fantastic Fighting Style, and the way society tends to glorify or idealize badass heroes that can beat the hell out of anybody. Hell, the basic message at the end of the series is that you should use your gifts to be a better person because anyone can go push people around but that doesn't help anything and you're not really making things better.
    • Fantastic Fighting Style is deconstructed with the effects the Method has on the students. Sure, it can make you a badass capable of killing mooks en mass like you're John Wick but the enhanced awareness granted by the Method that allows you to dodge bullets and predict you opponent's every move also constantly makes you aware of how fragile and easy to break normal people are. The constant input makes you see people as bags of meat and bone that you know how to kill 50 times over. Combined with the rush of having a superhuman body and being able to do what you want without anyone stopping you makes you lose more and more empathy with others until the people around you start to look like nothing more than targets and weaklings to be slaughtered.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Luther crosses this when he accidentally kills his own mother.
  • Domestic Abuse: Luther and Petra's fathers.
  • The Dreaded: Cain.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: An interesting case which points out that enlightenment is simply a realization and not necessarily about positive spiritual growth. The students of the Hercules Method come to the profound realization that their minds can overcome their physical limitations.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Shooter doesn't like it when someone treats other people like they were things, tools, or pieces of meat to be bought and sold. Musashi refused to make Luther watch Petra and Delilah die due to his honor and decide to give him the clean and good death he earned.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Librarian was also a social outcast and frail man who discovered the Hercules Method, a fact that he enjoys harping upon.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Librarian.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Implied: We see both Jack the Ripper and the Binder burning in flames (and in extreme pain), but both of them are rescued or killed before we can see if it's fatal.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Librarian's punishing physical power is matched only by his intellect.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: There are many instances where it fortunate for Luther that the Hercules method allows him to heal himself of horrific injuries.
  • Ground Wave: In The Legacy of Luther Strode #1, Luther's Hulk-meets-Wuxia fight with the female Twin does this to asphalt and concrete as they leap and land and punch each other through buildings and overpasses.
  • Heal Thyself: How the healing abilities of the students that practice the Hercules method work. Depending on the damage it may take more concentration to recover from serious injuries. However, students will perish if too many vital organs or simply their brain/head is destroyed.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Shooter is implied to be one, seemingly the most rational of the students Luther encounters and appears to be a vigilante that hunts down human traffickers.
  • Hunter of Their Own Kind: Whoever takes the role of The Binder effectively becomes responsible for hunting down and capturing rogue students of the Hercules Method.
  • It Amused Me: The Twins had doting parents and, for the most part, a lovely childhood. They go around killing people because they like it.
    • This seems to be the reason a lot of students of the method are bound is because they enjoy the act of murder or thrill of the fight too much to resist the urge.
  • Jack the Ripper: Jack The Ripper was a devotee of the Hercules Method. "Was" not because he died, but was ritually bound and trapped in a very small box. He get lets out.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Delilah's special ability allows her to subtly influence the minds of others. However, there are limits considering she could not influence an aggressive member of the Bound. Cain when in play is able to reverse an element of it & pretty much take Delilah out of the fight with the vision of something.
  • Jerk Jock: Jacobson. So much so, one would think the "V" on his varsity jacket stands for "Violent." The friends he surround himself with are very much in line with his thinking too.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "Dynamic Tension" is a registered trademark of Charles Atlas, Ltd. Any and all resemblance to the "Hercules Method" as portrayed in The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode is purely coincidental.
    • The Shooter, a nameless black gunslinger and former slave who goes around killing those who'd prey on and enslave the innocent in a poncho has nothing to do with the film that was released a year prior featuring Jamie Foxx as a black slave turned gunslinger. or a famous series of films featuring a nameless poncho wearing cowboy.
  • Logical Weakness: Students of the method have conscious control their body and its functions... but this control is reliant on nerves, and can be disrupted by neurotoxins and tasers, as exploited by The Binder. See Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain.
  • Martial Pacifist: Luther takes on this stance in Legacy of Luther Strode. He now prefers talking and negotiating to wanton violence, but he rarely succeeds because most of his opponents are crazed berserkers itching for a fight. He does manage to persuade Delilah to take his side by convincing her that she could be better than simply being Cain's thrall.
  • Master of Your Domain: This is essentially how the Hercules Method works, with practitioners concentrating until they can bring all of their physiological processes under their control. The protagonist in particular can literally leap tall buildings in a single bound, essentially feel no pain, regenerate from bullet wounds in seconds and punch ordinary people/highly trained mercenaries hard enough to reduce them to blood spray and body parts.
  • Mook Horror Show: Luther Strode is the purposeful embodiment of this trope, being the result of the thought "What if Peter Parker never had Uncle Ben in his life but still got superpowers?" Luther shows very little restraint when his or others lives are in danger after attempting to be a nonlethal vigilante , and with notable super strength he's able to gib/blow to pieces the average human torso with a glancing blow. This isn't helped by the fact his powers have made him a near 7 foot wall of muscle, meaning when he appears, he's towering above most enemies he faces. The trope is especially played up in the first two volumes where several average criminals and police are left with him or another super powered character.
  • More Dakka: Petra relies on this to combat users of the Hercules Method, effectively turning her into a gun nut. She obliterated a member of the Bound attacking Luther by firing a 6000 rounds per minute Gatling Gun at him.
  • My Greatest Failure: Luther could not save Pete, who was nailed to the wall with knives by The Librarian. And to make it worse he was tricked into accidentally killing his own mother. And what really drives the knife deeper into the wound is when Luther, after he seemingly defeated the Librarian, tried to get his mother out of the warehouse and he admits that all he truly wanted was to get better in order to keep her safe and apologizes to her, but it's already too late.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: A Healing Factor that would put Wolverine to shame and the ability to actually "catch" bullets by flexing one's muscles make it insanely difficult to kill a practitioner of the Hercules Method.
  • Noble Demon: Musashi of the Bound. Despite being one of the Bound, he has a strict code of honor which prevents him from engaging in mindless violence like the others and quickly agreed to help Luther and his crew defeat Cain.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Cain
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Librarian and Binder.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Luther's modus operandi in The Legend of Luther Strode.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Any student of the Hercules Method but in particular the Bound or students with the greatest potential. As the Librarian states when he comes to get Luther "It's not as if Cain could come to get you. There would hardly be a city left".
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Pete. Until his death at the hands of the Librarian. Petra became this later on.
  • Psycho Supporter: Petra becomes this for Luther in Legend of Luther Strode, considering her bloodthirsty demeanor.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: This is how the students of the Hercules Method heal themselves. The students can control their bodies to the point where they force their flesh, blood, and bone back together like the Big Bad from Ninja Scroll.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Luther manages to defeat the Librarian, but it costs him his family, his best friend, and any possibility of a normal life.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Musashi is convinced to join Luther. Cain pulls his head off almost immediately.
  • Religion of Evil: The order of students that practice the Hercules Method. It started with Cain and as he passed on his knowledge they gathered into a group that worshiped murder. At one point the Binder even states, "Why would I want to stop him? What Luther does? It's holy. I wish I had the gifts he does".
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The Logical Weakness of the Hercules Method, as it relies on "communication between the mind and body." It's the fate of The Libarian, The Binder and Jack the Ripper, among others.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Bound, the most talented users of the Hercules Method who are bound in a deep cave as their very presence in the world at large causes massive casualties. In a more literal sense, Jack the Ripper is kept in a box about the size of a mini-fridge. He's six and a half feet tall.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: This is arguably the purpose of Pete's death. Though he does show up as a zombie in the ashcan to explain Luther's powers. While the story does have some humorous/happy moments in The Legend of Luther Strode, it never approaches the comedic elements present in the first issues of The Strange Talent.
  • Shout-Out: Early on, when Luther is just starting to get his Heroic Build, Petra says he feels "like a condom stuffed with walnuts", a line from one of the early Jack Reacher books.
  • Social Darwinist: Pretty much what Cain and his followers happen to be. They believe in the strong killing and dominating over the weak.
  • Straw Nihilist: The Librarian. Luther Strode even calls him on cribbing Nietzsche after hearing his Motive Rant.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Strongly implied to be the ultimate source of Luther Strode's talent.
  • Super-Speed: All students of the method, but it's Jack the Ripper's defining talent, to the point he can carve intricate details into Luther's skin before the latter has time to react.
  • Suicide by Cop: Luther Strode's chosen mode of suicide. It didn't take.
  • Technical Pacifist: Breaking Luther Strode of this becomes the Librarian's chief motive. He succeeds a little too well.
  • Time Skip: There's five years between Strange Talent and Legend of Luther Strode.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: While Luther already has exceptional potential even for a student of the Hercules Method, in his final fight with the Librarian, after he accidentally kills his mother, Luther finally lets go of his inhibitions and starts to see the Librarian's moves where he couldn't before. As the fight continues, Luther gets stronger and stronger until a warehouse is destroyed and he rips the Librarian's head off spine and all.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Luther, big time. He goes from a skinny wimp to a muscular killing machine that can tear apart special forces trained mercenaries, twist steel like it's taffy, and catch bullets in his pectoral muscles.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Any student of the method has the potential to become this, but it's not quite universal, as demonstrated by The Binder, among others.
  • Training from Hell: Averted. The Hercules Method, as portrayed in the comic, is very low impact with a heavy emphasis on meditation techniques similar to ones found in self-help books. The transformation Luther experiences is not typical.
  • Twice Shy: Petra, Luther Strode's Love Interest, has been waiting a long time for him to make the first move.
  • Weak, but Skilled: While none of the students of the Hercules Method could really be seen as weak, there are the "Average" students and then there are the Bound. The Bound are students that are so good and so powerful that they cannot or will not control themselves when it comes to killing. It's even stated that the Bound are so proficient at the Hercules Method that they are immune to aging and biologically immortal. When a student becomes too strong and needs to be reigned in, a normal student like the Binder is called in to capture them. The Binder even states "Our weakness is our strength as we realize how weak we are compared to you". The Binder relies on skill and weapons to take down the out of control students.
  • Wicked Cultured: Show of hands. How many people know the meaning of the word "soup├žon?" Well, the Librarian does and can use said word in casual conversation. He's quite the educated bastard.
  • X-Ray Vision: An unusual version in that it's "Meat-o-vision" revealing the muscles rather than just the skeleton, and it's implied to be part of the greater awareness the Hercules Method offers. Deconstructed, as it causes the Dehumanization of anyone the practitioner sees, as they're just "slabs of meat."
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Cain invokes this trope as his master plan to become a belief and no longer be like any mortal man in history by becoming an idea of murder in the hearts and minds of mankind.