From the very first scene in a Harlem barbershop, you know that this is something very different for the Marvel universe. Yes, it’s the same New York that was affected by The Incident (as a less than subtle bootleg DVD merchant is used to infodump), but it’s not Hell’s Kitchen – although it’s an area that seems to be suffering from some of the same problems, in terms of those who are trying to rise to the top of the political tree and their allegiances to those of a less legitimate nature. In the first episode, there’s a brief reference to Wilson Fisk, but otherwise the other Netflix Marvel series are not mentioned – and not needed.
Mike Colter showed how good he was as Luke in the character’s appearance in Jessica Jones, and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker gives him plenty to run with in this opener of his own show. There’s an action sequence, of course, but we have to wait for that; first, we see the vulnerable side to Luke, as well as many of his key traits.
The episode also introduces many of the key characters – a New York detective who gets up and close and personal with our lead; the violence loving clubowner Cottonmouth (who makes the aforementioned Mr Fisk’s car door antics seem mild!); a politician and drug dealer; and an enforcer who clearly puts the wind up Luke. They’re all painted in broad strokes at the moment, but each is intriguing enough that you’d want to know what happens to them individually even if the rest were boring.
Verdict: There’s a bit too much infodumping early on, but otherwise this is a good start for Netflix’s third new show. 8/10