The show has swagger
Luke Cage is a solid show with an incredible soundtrack. Like Netflix's underrated The Get Down, the series siphons energy from every era of hip-hop. A smattering of blues riffs and Wu-Tang tracks backs Cage's moves. Tying it together are an original score from Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and a handful of musical numbers, organically staged at a Harlem nightclub that doubles as the hideout of the main bad guy, "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali, from House of Cards and the Hunger Games movies).
Ali even lends his own musical skills to the show; when he's not beating misbehaving henchmen into bloody pulps, he can be found pontificating at a piano. He's the diabolical embodiment of Biggie's crown portrait (which he hangs in his office!) and, thanks to a bold musical atmosphere, one of the best TV villains in forever.
But it's not an action series like Daredevil
While the first Luke Cage episodes dip an unbreakable toe into Shaolin martial arts (true to the Wu-Tang way), there isn't a mano-a-mano fight to match the Marvel predecessors. Cage can break through walls or send his enemies through them, but showdowns are limited. The spurts of spectacle may leave action junkies wanting more.
The series never loses its cool
Like a rambling comic book arc, forced to start and restart every issue, Netflix's Marvel series could stand to condense their required 13 episodes into shorter runs. Without Jessica Jones' pressing social issues or Daredevil's bombast, Luke Cage can plod along (you'll scream "another conversation about tax money??" at least twice). But Colter kept me hooked. He is our Clint Eastwood, our Richard Roundtree, our Steve McQueen, our Pam Grier, our Arnold Schwarzenegger (with actual emotions), a level-headed badass for the Netflix generation. He's strong enough to tear a car door off an SUV, and he's strong enough to carry yet another superhero show.