In case you haven’t noticed, Netflix released its latest Marvel TV series, Luke Cage, on 30 September. Like its predecessors Daredevil and Jessica Jones, it is excellent. But what caught my eye in the early episodes is that Luke Cage is not just a big-hearted bulletproof superhero, he’s also an avid reader.
The first clue was early in episode one, when between finishing a shift at one job as a hair sweeper at a barbershop and starting a shift at his other job as a washer-up, he stops by a news stand to buy a copy of the New Yorker. Scenes of Luke’s apartment show stacks of books on every surface and when he’s not fighting baddies he likes to discuss detective novels.
What really made me pay attention was that first clear shot of a book cover. The book in question? Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This seemed like exceptional timing. While on holiday, Tim and I went to the art gallery C/O Berlin where the main exhibition was the work of photographer (and film director) Gordon Parks, including his partnerships with Ralph Ellison, such as Invisible Man. I’ve been meaning to read the book for years, but now I’ve seen the powerful accompanying photographs, I want to more than ever.
So I did what I do. I made a reading list of all the books and authors mentioned or shown in the whole series. Enjoy.
The reading list
Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
Julius Lester Black Folktales
Malcolm Gladwell Outliers: the Story of Success
Attica: the Official Report of the New York State Special Commission on Attica
Walter Mosley Little Green and others in the Easy Rawlins series
Donald Goines Kenyatta series
Ernest Tidyman Shaft novels [though reference is probably to Gordon Parks film not books]
Jeff Chang Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: a History of the Hip-hop Generation
Robert Greene The 48 Laws of Power
Chester Himes The Heat’s On and others in the Harlem Cycle
Michael Connelly Harry Bosch series
Of course, Luke Cage is itself based on the Marvel comics character created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska. The latest related title from Marvel is Cage, starting this month. It is written and drawn by Genndy Tartakovsky, who I know best as the master behind Samurai Jack. Tim picked up issue one yesterday and I am excited to read it.