Power Man & Iron Fist #50 – Reviews Of Old Comics
With Luke Cage now available on Netflix, I thought it would be nice to look at some of the character’s comic book past. Instead of going with one of the issues that everyone refers to in looking at the character’s past, such as his first appearance or the time that he to collect payment from Doctor Doom, I went with the first issue that Power Man officially shared with his long time partner, Iron Fist. For two issues, Iron Fist was a guest star, but this was the first time the cover logo changed to reflect a partnership. Legally, the title wouldn’t officially change for a few issues thanks to way these things would happen in the 1970s, but this is the issue where the logo changed, making this the first issue of Power Man and Iron Fist.
Story: Chris Claremont
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Dave Cockrum (uncredited), Dan Green
Colors: Françoise Mouly (source)
Luke Cage is at a party thrown by his lawyer, Jeryth Hogarth, celebrating Luke’s exoneration of the charges that originally landed him in prison. No longer a fugitive, he’s legally changed his name to Luke Cage and has many options ahead of him, including an offer from Misty Knight to work for her. He relates his origin to Iron Fist, which led to him being at this moment in his life. The overall happiness is short-lived when his girlfriend Claire breaks up with him, unable to deal with the dangerous life that he leads.
After this, Luke finds himself attacked by two, highly equipped men calling themselves Discus and Stiletto. They seek to exact justice on Luke Cage, believing that no matter what the courts say, he really was guilty and that Hogarth is a crooked lawyer. Power Man and Iron Fist spend most of their time protecting innocent bystanders. Discus and Stiletto take the fight outside in the winter weather and the rooftops of Manhattan. It’s a treacherous place to be, but Iron Fist charges after the two anyway. After Discus shatters the catwalk, Power Man keeps the two from killing a disadvantaged Iron Fist by tackling Discus through the roof, while Stiletto flies away. Iron Fist loses his grip and falls from the roof. Only by using a pliable plastic roof over an indoor swimming pool, does he survive the fall.
In the penthouse, Stiletto apparently kills Misty Knight’s partner as he arrives to arrest the two brothers. This drives Misty into a rage, but before she can kill him, Luke Cage catches the bullet just inches before it strikes Stiletto in the face. As it turns out, Misty’s partner is fine, saved from death by his badge, which stopped Stiletto’s dart. Later, Power Man ponders Misty’s job offer more seriously.
The best part of this issue is that it takes the Power Man series and in one stroke blends it deftly into a new series. Luke Cage is cleared of all charges and his origin and story is explained as succinctly as possible. Unfortunately, it cheapens the first forty-nine issues by not covering them at all. The villains are pretty bland with their motivations being pretty two-dimensional. The action is well staged, though, at least as far as the story goes. It transitions nicely from scene to scene, and Luke Cage and Iron Fist are written consistently to character, and not very cookie cutter. Misty Knight’s only character portrayal and motivations are explained in captions, and never explained how, despite losing an arm, now has two. This is much earlier Chris Claremont writing, and he has all the hallmarks of a writer wanting to be certain that all of the story gets told. Captions may be overused, but they are well-written. Claremont also manages to work in a small cameo by a member of the X-Men supporting cast.
The art by John Byrne is once again, from earlier in his career, so it has a much rougher feel than his later work. For all the flow the fight with Discus and Stilletto has in the writing, it’s not there in the art. The layout of the penthouse is never fully explored, and the perspective used makes the room seem gigantic. The drama of the last page is done well, though, and it’s a credit to Byrne that he gives Claremont the aforementioned room to expouse and explain the reasons for Misty Knight’s rage.
You may have noticed in the credits, that I gave a source to the colorist’s name. Françoise Mouly is better known in the comics industry for her work with her husband, Art Spiegelman. In the credits on the splash page, she is credited only as “F. Mouly.” While numerous sources have her doing coloring work for Marvel during this period, it needed to be noted that outside sources were used to verify her involvement on the book. As for the quality of her work here, it is very much average for the time period. She doesn’t use color very much to shape figures but does try to incorporate a variance of hue for impact and drama. Her color choices here are quite good.
A Near Mint copy will run you quite a few dozen dollars, but finding an affordable reading copy would not be impossible. As of right now, it’s not available on Comixology.
FINAL RATING: 6.5 (out of 10)
The villains are far too weak. Claremont and Byrne are not strong enough at this point to overcome this drawback and make them interesting enough.