Wednesday, October 7, 2015


LUKE CAGE: a child of the streets… DANIEL RAND: a son of the mystic city of K’un-Lun… Two men from different worlds—both reborn with strength and power beyond belief! And together, no one can stop them!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artists: John Byrne & Dan Green
Lettering: Denise Wohl | Coloring: Francoise Mouly | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: At Jeryn Hogarth’s luxury apartment, a party is held to celebrate Luke Cage’s exoneration. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing offer him a position with their company, Nightwing Restorations, but Cage declines. Moments later, Cage’s girlfriend, Claire Temple, breaks up with him, having been used as a pawn against Cage one time too many.

Cage’s heartbreak is short-lived as his old foes, Stiletto and Discus, crash the party. The vigilantes believe Cage has dodged the law and want him dead. Danny Rand changes to Iron Fist to assist Cage against his enemies. The fight heads outside, where Iron Fist is nearly killed. Meanwhile, Cage takes out Discus. The arrival of the police startles Stiletto, who shoots Lt. Rafael Scarfe. Believing Scarfe dead, Misty prepares to execute Stiletto, but Cage stops her.

Scarfe, alive, chastises Misty and then Cage, Iron Fist, and the Daughters of the Dragon enjoy some champagne in the ruined apartment as Cage accepts the offer to join Nightwing Restorations.

Continuity Notes: The fight with Bushmaster from last issue is touched upon and then a moment later, Cage launches into a two-page recap of his origin, as seen in HERO FOR HIRE #1.

Luke Cage, which was previously an alias, becomes Cage’s legal name this issue.

Though Claire breaks up with Cage, he meets his next love interest, model Harmony Young, when he rescues her from Discus (and forces a kiss on her out of nowhere, which was of course completely socially acceptable back in 1978).

Discus and Stiletto are the sons of Seagate Prison’s former Warden Stuart, who is in attendance at Cage’s party. They also seem to be racists, referring to Cage as a “buck” (cementing my idea from two issues back that Claremont was well aware of the term’s negative connotations when he placed it in Colleen’s head) and calling Misty the “local color”.

We get a little more background on the explosion that cost Misty her arm: she was at the bank to cash her paycheck when someone identified a bomb. Misty threw it away, but lost her appendage in the process. Lt. Scarfe, then her partner, accompanied her on the ambulance ride and remained with her at the hospital until she regained consciousness.

Iron Fist hangs from a ledge outside in the snow, with Discus stomping on his hand, which prompts a flashback to the day Harold Meachum murdered his father the same way. Cage rescues Iron Fist but he falls anyway, angling his drop to land in an enclosed rooftop pool which just happens to be occupied by Betsy and Amanda, the girlfriends of Colossus and Nightcrawler from X-MEN.

Amanda wasn't being tight-lipped out of modesty; quite the opposite. She
was apparently waiting until they were in a very populated public area so she could
yell to Betsy from several yards away as she described in graphic detail just how
many times her boyfriend banged her last night.
My Thoughts: Back in the old days, comic book series kept their numbering even when a title changed. This series started out as HERO FOR HIRE, soon became POWER MAN, and now, with issue 50, is rechristened POWER MAN AND IRON FIST. It’s decent as “first issues” go, giving us a lengthy recap of Cage’s origin and very briefly touching on Iron Fist’s as well. It also introduces us to the book’s combined supporting cast: Misty, Colleen, Hogarth, Harmony, and Lt. Scarfe.

We get a new status quo for Cage as well, with him joining Nightwing Restorations. I’m unsure how long this set-up lasted, though. At some point Power Man and Iron Fist will become “heroes for hire”, which leads me to believe Danny will lose his fortune somehow. But for the moment, the book’s premise seems to be Power Man as a co-worker of Misty and Colleen, with Danny as their wealthy friend who just tags along for the heck of it.

And now, the bigger picture: Though Iron Fist’s adventures would continue through another 75 issues of POWER MAN AND IRON FIST, this is where we part ways with him -- for now, at least. Danny Rand first appeared in 1974’s MARVEL PREMIERE #15, and it was rough going at first. Despite a cool costume, an interesting power, and a neat premise, Iron Fist couldn’t keep a steady creative team. Over his first eight issues, he went through four writers and three pencilers. His ninth installment finally brought a permanent writer in Chris Claremont, along with a fourth non-permanent penciler, and then MARVEL PREMIERE 25, Iron Fist’s eleventh issue, united Claremont with John Byrne on pencils. From that point there was no looking back.

Claremont and Byrne sent Iron Fist to the Middle East and back for the life of Colleen Wing. They pitted him against Master Khan, the Wrecking Crew, Sabre-Tooth, and the X-Men. They fleshed out Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, as well as Iron Fist’s treacherous uncle, Yu-Ti, and his mentor, Lei Kung. They gave him an archenemy in the form of the Steel Serpent, and they didn’t even let cancellation halt their ongoing plotlines.

From MARVEL PREMIERE, Iron Fist moved into his own self-titled series. When that ended, he popped into MARVEL TEAM-UP for a two-parter which wrapped up the Steel Serpent story. And though his journey could have concluded at that point, somebody at Marvel realized his appeal. It was decided, according to John Byrne, to combine two low-selling series into one, with hopes that the books had two mostly separate audiences which would converge to support the united POWER MAN AND IRON FIST. Apparently that logic proved sound.

It’s been fun to read Iron Fist’s earliest adventures over the past few months. They weren’t all great, but I can see how the character managed to hang on long enough to meet Luke Cage and gain a new lease on life. But the real pleasure has been reading stories from Chris Claremont and John Byrne, prior to their partnership on X-MEN. One wonders what could’ve happened if they’d stuck together on POWER MAN AND IRON FIST after introducing the title characters.

But they didn’t. Claremont has one issue left as scripter, followed by two more as plotter, then he’s out of the picture. Byrne, on the other hand, is gone as of this issue. Claremont will never touch Iron Fist again, though he and Byrne will keep Misty and Colleen around in X-MEN for a few more months. Byrne, meanwhile, will have a reunion with Iron Fist in his NAMOR series about a decade later.

So this is it for Iron Fist, but, strangely enough, Claremont and Byrne will drop Luke Cage into a cameo appearance in an upcoming X-MEN issue, and they have one more actual Power Man story left in them, which we’ll cover in MARVEL TEAM-UP #75 in a couple weeks.


  1. There's just no way Scott and Jean didn't do it long time before the butte sex incident, if our second-genesiser here gets to pull a full German circus acrobat routine on his sister-girlfriend so hard that people talk of it on different title.

    1. The butte being their first time was a strange Louise Simonson ret-con. I believe Claremont and Byrne have both stated that in their opinion, Cyclops and Jean had been intimate all the way back to at least the Thomas/Adams run.

    2. There's a Classic X-Men backup story (by Claremont) that heavily implies Scott & Jean are doing the it circa X-MEN #98 (just prior to the onset of Phoenix), possibly for the first time but definitely A time.

  2. Nice to see Amanda & Betsy pop up here. Amanda, obviously, stuck around, but I'd love to see Betsy again (she and Ted Roberts should hook up ;) ).

    1. It does seem odd that no one has ever brought back Betsy, not even Claremont (or perhaps especially not Claremont, given his fondness for revisiting his own past creations).

      To be honest, knowing Claremont, I'm just a little surprised he never found a way to reveal this Betsy was actually Betsy Braddock.

      (Only half joking there, by the way.)