Monday, September 28, 2015


Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Annette Kawecki | Colorists: Francoise Mouly & Ken Klaczak
Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: In the aftermath of their skirmish, Luke Cage explains to Iron Fist, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing how he came in search of Misty: He was blackmailed by John Bushmaster to capture her and deliver her to him in exchange for a tape that would clear his name with the authorities. Thanks to her undercover work, Misty knows where Bushmaster’s secret headquarters is, and she, Iron Fist, and Power Man head out after him.

The base is revealed as Seagate Prison, the place where Luke Cage gained his super strength and steel-hard skin. Iron Fist and Misty infiltrate the prison first to find and rescue Cage’s kidnapped friends, Doctors Claire Temple and Noah Burstein. They find Claire, but learn Burstein is in another wing of the prison. Colleen takes Temple to safety while Iron Fist goes after Burstein.

Cage invades the prison via full frontal assault and learns from Misty where Burstein is. He heads that way as well, to find Iron Fist ambushed by a newly super-enhanced Bushmaster. Cage tells Iron Fist to get Burstein to safety, then fights Bushmaster. Their duel ends with an explosion that demolishes half the prison. Iron Fist finds Cage in the wreckage and Misty emerges a moment later, having gone back in to find the tape that will clear Cage’s name.

Cage, Misty, Iron Fist, Burstein, Temple, and Bushmaster’s henchman, Gadget-Man, board a speedboat and head for shore.

Continuity Notes: The events of last issue are recapped at the issue’s start. When Cage tells his story, he reveals that he was apartment hunting in Chicago when he met Bushmaster. Also, Comanche and Shades, who we saw last issue, are apparently old foes of Cage working as mercenaries for Bushmaster.

It’s noted that Cage is a felon who spent twenty years in prison for dealing heroin, though he was framed by one Willis Stryker. Conveniently, Bushmaster’s tape shows Stryker planting the heroin in Cage’s apartment before he was arrested. In the same scene, we also learn that Bushmaster is from Europe and has been making trouble for the Maggia in the United States.

(By the way, how old is Cage supposed to be, anyway? Twenty years in prison means, even if he was arrested as a teenager, he’s probably at least in his mid-late-thirties at this point. I always figured he was closer to Iron Fist’s age, but apparently he’s well more than a decade older, adding another dimension to their “Odd Couple” partnership.)

It seems Dr. Burstein is the one who experimented on Cage at Seagate, granting him his powers, but nowadays they’re friends.

Misty believes Iron Fist has changed since his duel with Steel Serpent in MARVEL TEAM-UP #63-64, losing some of his innocence during the time he was without the power of the Iron Fist. Iron Fist himself later recalls his encounter with the Serpent, though it’s incorrectly footnoted as having occurred in MTU issue 66.

Comanche, Shades, and Bushmaster are all still in the prison when it explodes, but as Cage notes, he survived, so there’s no reason to believe Bushmaster perished.

My Thoughts: Huh. Claire Temple, of Netflix’s DAREDEVIL, was a POWER MAN supporting character. I had no idea!

With this issue, Claremont brings to a close the Bushmaster storyline he began in IRON FIST #13, when Misty took the assignment to go undercover in Bushmaster’s gang. But he remembers that this is Luke Cage’s comic, and resists the urge to turn the series over to “his” character, Iron Fist. The Living Weapon is very much a guest-star here -- I wouldn’t even call him a co-star at this point -- and it is Cage who gets all the big scenes and fights Bushmaster in the end.

This is almost certainly not the direction Claremont originally intended to take this story when he first started it, but sudden cancellations have a way of changing writers’ plans. I’ll admit the conclusion feels a bit rushed, but that doesn’t mean its bad. At least Iron Fist figures into the resolution in some way, while at the same time one gets the feeling that a long character arc for Cage has come to an end as well. I’ve never read an issue of POWER MAN prior to #48, but Claremont does a good job of telling us who the character is, what he’s about, and why we should root for him.

We also get some nice interplay between Cage and Misty, to the point that I almost wonder if Claremont intended to set up a love triangle here -- but Misty shoots Cage down more than once, so I’m probably just reading too much into that.

It probably goes without saying at this point, but Byrne continues to impress as well, and I still really like his rendition of Luke Cage. Bushmaster has a pretty cool costume too, after he’s transformed into the next Power Man.

Our journey with Iron Fist has almost reached its end. Claremont and Byrne have one more installment waiting, and this time he truly will be a co-star with Power Man.

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