Marvel’s Luke Cage Takes the Mayoral Race in Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1

After tearing the city apart with his controversial laws banning superhero activities, being compliant with illicit dimensional breaches, and perpetrating severe human rights violations, Wilson Fisk has fled New York thanks to a thorough beatdown from Daredevil. The new mayor, Luke Cage, has his hands full of paperwork dealing with the aftermath of the Devil’s Reign event. He still finds time to use his fists whenever the city needs a more “heroic” approach. The Marvel Comics event that started last year finally draws to a close with Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1, heralding new beginnings (and endings) for everyone involved. Written by Chip Zdarsky, Rodney Barnes, and Jim Zub, with artwork from Rafael De Latorre, Guillermo Sanna, Luciano Vecchio, Federico Blee, Dijjo Lima, Carlos Lopez, and Javier Tartaglia and lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles and Joe Sabino, Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1 delivers a somber epilogue.

Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1 is an anthology of stories that ties up loose ends before the start of several new series branching off from the event. The first story deals with loss as “Matt Murdock” has a funeral, when in fact, it is his brother, Mike who is in the casket, killed by the villainous Wilson Fisk in a rage-fueled attack. With the who’s who of the superhero community attending the funeral, Daredevil looks on with a new mission in mind. Meanwhile, the newly appointed Mayor Cage punches his way through legalities to bring back the Thunderbolts to a more respectable path. Sometimes, as the mayor soon learns, progress is slow and requires coming face to face with the past before being rewarded with people’s faith.

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Truth be told, the grand finale of the Devil’s Reign event left a bitter aftertaste, with the main antagonist literally riding off into the sunset with his lady love, facing not an ounce of justice for his crimes. Writer Chip Zdarsky tries to negate that with a heartfelt eulogy to Mike Murdock. While behind the curtain, the ceremony may be a farce, the emotions behind it remain sincere. The subsequent story arcs are much more optimistic in nature, giving a positive outlook to life while sowing the seeds for future storylines. Jim Zub, who takes on the all-new Thunderbolts in August this year, lays the foundation for the team with pizzazz, already raising expectations of a colorful affair. The best segment of Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1 comes at the end, when Rodney Barnes writes a self-introspective account of Luke Cage, from his earliest days as a kid from Harlem looking over at the ivory towers to become mayor of an entire city – a journey that has made him as strong on the inside as his outside.

Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1 swings from mood to mood with the artwork helping the script along, emphasizing the body language of the characters and their expressions more than anything. Artist Rafael De Latorre illustrates the epilogue with an intense energy that spills later into the story in the form of gratuitous action. Luciano Vecchio and Carlos Lopez bring animated style energy to the table, dousing the book in loud, bright colors. Meanwhile, Dijjo Lima uses a variety of shades to depict the new mayor’s checkered past in a rush of flashback panels and wide, free-flowing splash pages, giving an evening glow that symbolizes the passing of the torch.

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Despite being built on different premises that follow divergent story arcs, Devil’s Reign: Omega # 1 has a narrative coherence that lets the reader make their way through the complicated world left behind by the event. The reason may be quite simple: the entire storyline stands on the giant shoulders of one man, placing him in the foreground above everybody else. Luke Cage becomes the hero of the closing issue, and it is his insecurities and aspirations that make up the bulk of the subsequent arcs. As newly appointed mayor, Luke Cage has a legislative duty to his citizens, but he is the kind of man who would not let it come in the way of his superhero duties. Thus ends the Devil’s Reign with a change in power, adding a new feather to Cage’s cap.

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