Monday, March 06, 2006

POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #124 Marvel Comics, 1986

Allow me to engage in a little bit of comic sacrilege: I have never been a big fan of Power Man and Iron Fist.

“Sweet Christmas!” you say, gasping. “But they’re so retro! Not only do I dig Power Man and Iron Fist, but I ‘get’ them in that ironic way that makes me cool.”

I’ll ignore the imaginary reader’s protestations and continue my thought. Power Man and Iron Fist, for those who don’t know/care, was a Marvel comic from the magnificent 80’s that starred Nicolas Cage’s namesake Luke Cage, aka Power Man, a jive-talking super-powered street fighter, and Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, a master of the martial arts who wore yellow slippers. Together this unlikely duo teamed up to bust heads and make an honest buck in a comic book series that was frankly, not all that popular. The issue that I’ve pulled from my long boxes for scrutiny today is their second-to-last.

“But that sounds great, Dave!” you say. “Jive-talkin’? Kung fu? How can it not be brilliant?”

Trust me, man – it’s not that brilliant.

My favorite Power Man and Iron Fist appearance was in an issue of Frank Miller’s Daredevil. This comic is my second favorite appearance, and it’s basically just one big fight scene with precious little character development. For some reason, the actual Power Man and Iron Fist comics never lived up to their promise. I want to like them – I really do – but usually the execution fell way short of the potential.

I guess what it comes down to is that I like the idea of Power Man and Iron Fist more than I like Power Man and Iron Fist themselves. I feel this way about a lot of things. For instance, I like the idea of Chris Isaak more than I like Chris Isaak’s stuff. Same with Rob Zombie. And Iron Chef (except for the octopus battle episode, which ruled). And Gwar. And Blackula. And Scott Bakula.

This is not to say that I don’t think Power Man and Iron Fist could be done right. Like many geeks, I feel that I am the One Person on Earth who could do justice to the concept. I would write an absolutely kick-ass Power Man and Iron Fist series, Dave said modestly. Why don’t they realize that? Why???

Oh – right. This issue.

Umm, in this issue Iron Fist dresses in red instead of his usual green and kicks ass on a bunch of mob goons and Yellow Claw ninjas. That’s it. Whenever Iron Fist punches somebody, he strikes them so hard that there is a small explosion. Yes, his kung fu is so strong that he makes the air itself explode!

I ask you: if you were a ninja, a shadowy master of the black arts of murder and mayhem, what color outfit would you wear?

If you answered “bright yellow,” boy, do I have the ninja clan for you!

As in most Power Man and Iron Fist comics, in the end Iron Fist must summon the power of the um, Iron Fist and hit something and make it blow up. The end. What a message for today’s youth: solve your problems by punching until something explodes!

Jeez, that was the lamest commentary I have ever done on a comic book. Ever.


Spencer Carnage said...

“Sweet Christmas!” you say, gasping. “But they’re so retro! Not only do I dig Power Man and Iron Fist, but I ‘get’ them in that ironic way that makes me cool.”

Its funny, because if you take out the words "not" and "never" away from this post, you'll have another post PRAISING the kewlness of Power Man and Iron Fist.

Greg said...

I 'get' Gwar in an ironic way that makes me cool. But I once passed up a chance to see them in concert. Because I'm even too cool for that.

Morgan said...

See, the problem was, NOTHING about those two guys working together made sense. They're form two entirely different kinds of low-rent action movie styles. Luke Cage was out for the cash, just like Superfly. Danny Rand was a tormented Kung Fu dork, full of traing and ho nor and bad fashion sense. (Though the redneck bandanna with the spider eyes was one of the coolest masks in Marvel history.)

Any story that would be cool for Power Man would be dumb for Iron Fist, and vice versa, that's the problem.

It's not an insoluble problem, though, because Jet Li and DMX have made perfectly good crappy movies together.

zailo said...

I actually like Power Man and Iron Fist but not as a team. Individually they have the abilty to rock out. Together they somehow become smaller than the sum of their parts. I think of it something like the following;
"You got your chocolate in my sawdust!"
"You got your sawdust in my chocolate!"

Two fair to middlin' flavors together at last.

word verif: "mvsjok" which is a small port in Siberia.

Verity Kindle said...

It's ok, Dave, I still lurve you.

Noface Jim said...

Power Man and Iron Fist never made sense to me. One guy is a bulletproof Badass, the other is a supernatural kung fu master. In theory, it should be great. But like you say, they always fell short of their potential.

It didn't help that, between the two of them, they wore a yellow blouse, a bare-chested workout leotard, skin-tight leather pants, and dainty geisha slippers. And who picked the colors for their outfits, Daredevil?

They don't suck, don't get me wrong, but they don't particularly rock, either. Kind of like Bon Jovi's newest CD.

God, I hope no Bon Jovi fans read this.



The Fortress Keeper said...

Iron Fist wore red? No wonder that particular issue sucked.

Never was a big Luke Cage fan, so I always felt Danny could do better without "Power Man."

Pity Brian Bendis doesn't show Iron Fist much love. He would be a much better addition to the Avengers.

Sweet Christmas!

missbhavens said...

"Jeez, that was the lamest commentary I have ever done on a comic book. Ever."

No! I think it was well-written and informative! Without this post I would have thought that bright yellow was an acceptable hue for my ninja outfit. Now I can see that it is not.

Hoosier X said...

I read Power Man and Iron Fist for a long time and I'm trying to remember ANYTHING.

The only thing I can think of is a gangland punk with metal teeth called Piranha Jones, but that was Power Man way before Iron Fist joined up. (That was so cool! I wish I had that issue still.)

Umm, let me get back to you on PMIF.

SW said...

Wow. I'm a bit torn, folks. I have some emotional baggage associated with this series.

I dug PM/IF. This was the series that inspired the 'buddy movie' genre (I made that part up). In the early years, we got to bust the heads of Bushmaster, Master Khan, and the rather gnarly team of Sabretooth and the Constrictor (quite a few times, actually). We had the makings of some really cool stuff here.

Then some crap happened. A LOT of crap. Craptacular in uber-crappy proportions.

They fought some dude that had the uncanny ability to climb stuff (Montenegro, I think?). They fought some big fat chick. And they even fought some dude called Goldeneye with the proportionate strength of an eye.....of gold! I hung in there, hoping, praying that things would get better (like a kid with an alcoholic father, waiting for him to sober up...wait, I was that kid...). There was some hope (I though) around the Captain Hero storyline, and SMILE. I was willing to follow Jim Owsley anywhere. Then PMIF went bi-monthly, the comic equivalent of the kiss of death, but I still held out hope.

Before PM/IF #125, I thought that Nova v.1 #24 was the most disappointing series finale in the history of Marvel. And although Dave has highlighted some of the worst fecal-constructions ever, PM/IF #125 for me still holds that distinction.

Edward Liu said...

I just got the one-shot reprint of 3 1970's "Daughters of the Dragon" stories, which spun out of PM/IF and the vaguely related Master of Kung-Fu comics, but with women ass-kickers instead of men. And I liked it. Yeah, it was exploitive and cheesy and shouldn't have worked at all, but they were also exploitive and cheesy in such a way that made it OK.

Looking over your post on PM/IF, though, I'm wondering if it really was just that it was two hot women that made this series cool, 'cuz I never had much interest in Power Man and Iron Fist either, and gender seems to be the only distinguishing feature between them. I'd like to think I'm somehow above such base motives, but I know full well that those base motives make a lot more decisions than I'd like to admit.

Me, I could also never really get past the fact that of the two masters of kung-fu in the MU, one of them is a guy with the dumbest Chinese name EVAR and the other is a white dude. Colleen Wing may have had the most convoluted heritage ever, but at least she was half-Chinese.

Word verification: noswx. Aw, man, I was looking forward to some SERIOUSLY GOOD swx.

Anonymous said...

As a huge childhood fan of PM/IF could someone tell me, twenty-something years later, what the hell that ending was about? Someone told me that Captain Hero eventually turned out to be Super-Skrull?!?

I'd like to see more love for Iron Fist. He is the poster boy for rich, blue-eyed blondes appropriating other peoples cultures, and that's bad, but on the other hand, its no worse than DD or Wolverine, and on top of that, he has that boss tattoo. He seems like he should always be smiling and saying weird cryptic things and if you called him on it, he'd be all chill. I can see why Power Man likes him. He probably kept the office really clean and made tea and stuff.

Jason Fliegel said...

Anonymous, Captain Hero did turn out to be the Super Skrull. Tyrone King turned out to be Master Khan. Danny Rand turned out not to be dead after all. It was all in the first year or two of John Byrne's run on Namor, which I haven't read in 15 years, so I gots no details for you.

David Campbell said...

SW is correct; the series finale of PMIF sucked ASS.

Through a straw.

call me jack... said...

I somewhat agree. I love Power Man and Iron Fist, I even love them teamed up. but you're right, you cannot base an entire comic just off the pair. individually, Iron Fist or Power Man could carry a story. but when they are a pair they need to be teamed up with another group for some reason.

Oldsmoblogger said...

"wills his fist to unto a thing of iron."

Deathless, just deathless. Tell the writer to put down the bong and the copy of The Sword of Shannara.

Bully said...

Scott Bakula should totally play Blacula.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The comic may not have been good, but it was heartwarming.

Look at the five-panel series where Iron Fist is whooping ninja ass in a cornfield.

After four panels of Iron Fist laying the mighty smackdown, we get a delightful panel of the ninjas celebrating their graduation from Ninja Academy. Look at 'em! They're so excited, they're throwing their swords up in the air. One's even jumping for joy!

Awww. Ninjas are so cute when they celebrate.

And Dave: "What a message for today’s youth: solve your problems by punching until something explodes!" Are you saying that is bad advice? Recently I fixed my hot water heater by punching it until it exploded. The "punch it 'til it explodes" approach also helped me reseal the driveway, put in storm windows, and hold a bake sale.

I'm thinking of writing a handyman book extolling the principle.

Anonymous said...

I ask you: if you were a ninja, a shadowy master of the black arts of murder and mayhem, what color outfit would you wear?

This has always bothered me about Wolverine, too. "I'm the best at what I do, and what I do ain't pretty...but it is visible from 1000 yards away!"

Jamie Ott said...

You know, I always thought that the fact that these two were best friends but were from completely different sides of the track was what made the series fun.

And the series had a pretty decent run for B-listers. They were together for 80 or so issues of the 125 issue run. Seperately, neither has been able to sustain much interest.

KJToo said...

"Allow me to engage in a little bit of comic sacrilege: I have never been a big fan of Power Man and Iron Fist."

Dave Campbell, you are dead to me.

Because that's how I deal with people whose opinions do not precisely mirror my own: I excombobulate them.

I was a sporadic PMaIF ("PUH-mayf") fan back in the day, but never enough to really commit to the series. I do loves me some Iron Fist, though. How badass does a ninja have to be to say, "Hiding is for honorless cowards. The only way to make this fair for my enemies is to dress like the flag of Burkina Faso so they can see me coming a mile away"?

Pretty badass.

Demetrius728 said...

As far as ninjas decked out in yellow, Robert Rodi in his book Codename: Knockout had ninjas dressed in rainbow colors. His reasoning: How else would a ninja fit in in LA?

PM&IF was my favorite as a kid just because of the Marvel house ads that featured them. One had Luke in your face, telling you to buy his comic or else. The other had Danny politely asking you to buy PM&IF so as to not make Luke mad. Pure genius.

William said...

Danny in red? AND the story sucked? Obviously this issue took place in some Complementary Color Mirror Universe where everything is opposite and Ninjas wear bright yellow. They must have been Mirror Universe super-good Ninjas.

Jakanapes said...

SW is correct; the series finale of PMIF sucked ASS.

Through a straw.

And there's a reason for that.

Denny O'Neil was so outraged by the way the book was treated, being swapped to bi-monthly for no reason (it was selling well at the time), and then being cancelled as part of the sweep to make room for the New Universe that he had Priest do a 'scorched earth' on the characters.


But for a brief shining moment in the 80's there was a series with a bulletproof ex-con, a mystical kung-fu warrior, the hard-ass cyborg PI he loved and her American Samurai partner.

Great days indeed

Kevin Church said...



And y'all are haterz for PM and IF.

They'd totally kick your asses.

If they were real.

Doctor Sordid said...

"What a message for today’s youth: solve your problems by punching until something explodes!"

I'm guessing this is the message which Superboy-Prime picked up on while he was trapped in his pocket universe doohicky with Lex, Lois, and Superdope. And hey, it worked!

Corey Bond said...

Let's not forget Nuclear Power Man and Iron Foot, a.k.a. "Heroes for Rent," from Simpsons Comics #100.

jake saint said...

So, with the new series I'm not reading, is Black Panther still fated to die ten years in the future from injuries delivered by Danny In Red? I loved Priest's BP: the title character loses to an I'm-suddenly-very-angry-brain-controlled-or-bodyswitched hero. bril.

And can Danny In Red puhLEEheeze be the next Marvel monthl-- wait, I don't want to finish that sentence.

gwalla said...

jake: The new Black Panther series pretty much ignores the entirety of Priest's run. Everything Priest did has been retconned out of existence (which happens with disturbing regularity to that guy).

yynderjohn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yynderjohn said...

The ONLY martial arts comic that pulls off retro funk is "Infinite Kung-Fu" by Kagan McLeod One of the main characters is Moog Joogular a mix of popular Funk stars from the 70's who knows some bad ass kung fu. It's what Power Man and Iron fist wished they could be.

Anonymous said...

You may think it's not very good, but it sold five times as much as the most popular books now do. (And that was at the point of cancellation; it had even higher sales earlier!)

Also, you basically can't go wrong with anything that has Power Man in it.

glengarry said...

Fun fact about those house ads mentioned before, with Luke Case threatening you if you didn't buy his comic, and Iron Fist trying to smooth things over: they featured art by Bill Sinkewicz (sp?)

Anonymous said...

Come on, how can you not love POWERMAN and IRON FISt ? It was like a comic that starred a bulletproof Shaft and a white Bruce Lee.

I just read the ESSENTIAL IRON FIST because I only read some old spanisch versions back in the days ( drawn by Kerry Gamill - you have your comicgold right there !!! ) and man, those were some really cool comics.

Right from the beginning with the first-person-narration " You´re Daniel Rand. " till the high point of every issue that you just knew was coming "wills his fist to unto a thing of iron." and then KA-POW !!! Some lowlifes got what they deserved. Pity the fools !

I just hope there will be more essentials coming out from this series.

Word verification : vhctlszn

What Luke Cage needs after a hard day of villainstomping. Yes,beyotch a whole love of vhctlszinn....forshizzle....dizzle.

DJ said...

Hey Powerman was great, he even stood in for the Thing for a while when Ben was taking a vacation from being ugly. Course they had to pay him, and he wasnt quite as powerful as Ben. Reed finally built a thing suit for Ben and they pink slipped the guy.

I just want to know why not put a thing suit on Powerman, you would get better results.

Melvin said...

I wish I could learn to make that mask.

Anonymous said...

God I loved issue #124.

I know there was some, not much, better stuff out there at the time, but Iron Fist is the shite and that book was great.

O'Neill, Priest and Bright obviously wanted to show Danny Rand some much-deserved love before he got erased in favor of... Kickers Inc.

I'd highly recommend folks read the last 20 issues or so of PM/IF.

Issue #125 is a comic which will live in infamy.

Anonymous said...

This comic series is really underrated. I just read the issues, 58 - 65 and have to say the art by Kerry Gammill is excellent. There are moments of #61 that were so good, it looked like it was done by a famous comic book artist like Wally Wood for EC. The writing was good too, tying into many of the plots a strain of social conciousness/reality that gave it some depth, not too unlike a Green arrow & Green Lantern story from the early 70's. I also liked how Mary Jo Duffy exposed PM & IF's limitations that come with their abilities, and based the stories in New York City, which not only gives it a grittier atmosphere, but an authenticity as well.
Even though it's aimed for a younger age group, it still manages like the other marvel titles of the period, (Iron Man, Daredevil,Avengers, X-Men, etc.) a more perceptive view of their reality, without being melodramatic and depressing.
I just don't understand many of the complaints against it. I find the difference between PM and IF if anything, help give it an interesting contrast/dimension. Much better then having two of the exact same kind of people.

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It won't work in actual fact, that is exactly what I suppose.

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