Characters Appearing: Colleen Wing, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, Sabretooth
Marvel Comics Presents #133-136 (Iron Fist)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #133, Marvel Comics Presents #134, Marvel Comics Presents #135, Marvel Comics Presents #136 (Iron Fist story only)
As someone who really wants to believe that the Marvel universe is one big ongoing story, it's always a little disconcerting when i read an appearance by a character and there's nothing that ties it in to their last appearance, especially when that last appearance introduced significant changes. I've come to accept the reality of that when the character is appearing in some other book. But it's harder to do when the story appears in the same book, directly after the previous story, and with the same editors (Mark Powers and Terry Kavanagh are replaced during the course of these issues but they would have approved the story in question and "edited" at least the first issue). Of course this is better than an outright contradiction, and i've become accustomed to making up little explanations, but it's still annoying and surprising. The jerky episodic nature of Marvel Comics Presents is already working against it, and you'd think that if Marvel was trying to make Iron Fist a thing in this book, which seems to be the case, that they'd try to bring their readers along by providing some - dare i say - continuity between stories.
And i still stand by that. But the more i look at this story, i think the real issue is that it was meant to be a continuity insert taking place soon after Iron Fist's resurrection and the editors forgot to tell us. The story is all about Iron Fist being sluggish and not in the right space spiritually. He can't even summon his iron fist. So i'm actually going to push this back in publication time, well before the aforementioned arc.
Iron Fist, Colleen Wing, and Misty Knight are protecting an informant named Karl Powers (sometimes spelled Carl), who has information on the Yakuza for the FBI.
Sabretooth is brought in by the Yakuza.
This is fair. Sabretooth started off as an Iron Fist villain (debuted there and appeared in the Power Man & Iron Fist series a few times). It's only right that now that he's popular he come back and give Iron Fist a little boost.
Iron Fist is fighting sluggishly.
And he admits that he might not be the same man as he was since his resurrection.
That seems to be a telling comment from a placement perspective. By publication date we've seen Iron Fist seemingly fully recovered by this point. The fact that he's attributing his degrading fighting abilities to his resurrection seems to indicate that this story should take place soon after the resurrection.
He rallies and defeats that Yakuza ninja, but more keep coming, and Iron Fist and the Daughters of the Dragon are surrounded. Meanwhile, Sabretooth circumvents the fight and directly attacks the FBI agents who are guarding Powers in another part of the same warehouse.
He dispatches the guards and grabs Powers.
Outside, Iron Fist continues to have problems.
Luckily, Misty and Colleen aren't having as much trouble with the rest of the ninjas, and they're able to provide Danny with a reprieve.
But when Danny tries to attack again:
He eventually manages to punch the ninja out. You might think those pink energy lines are meant to indicate that he's used the iron fist, but that's not the case.
Note him saying that he still has a lot of work to do.
Fist and the Daughters then try to find Powers, but are attacked by even more ninjas and Sabretooth.
There's a colorist change between issues #134-135 (from Glynis Oliver to George Roussos), and it results in some major changes for Misty and Colleen. They've suddenly changed clothing, and Colleen's Japanese side jumps to the forefront.
The leader of the ninjas - apparently a renegade faction - shows up and says that Powers is no longer of interest to the Yakuza.
I don't know what's going on! My brain keeps going, "Is that Elektra?" and refuses to process anything else.
Anyway, Iron Fist is still trying to fight Sabretooth.
He's unable to summon the iron fist.
Fist gets generally trashed.
But he rallies enough to stun Sabretooth and tell the Daughters to get away with Powers. He then attacks Sabretooth again, summoning his chi in a partial way, not enough to fully invoke the iron fist.
He punches Sabretooth into a power line or something, causing an explosion.
To escape the falling debris, it's said that Iron Fist finally uses his iron fist.
Sabretooth is (unsurprisingly) shown to have survived at the end, too.
It's interesting that the two times in this story where, just by looking at the art, you might assume that he's using the iron fist, he really isn't. And then at the end when you wouldn't necessarily assume that he was, the script has to make it clear. It's almost like the script was retroactively making this Iron Fist's first post-resurrection outing. But retroactive or not, it does seem like this fits best soon after his resurrection.
Regardless of all that, this is of poor quality. We see that in basic ways, like the misspelling of Karl's name and the inconsistencies in coloring. The art is generally bad. There's a muddle of two different ninja factions. And as much as i love to see the Daughters of the Dragon kicking ass, it's kind of weird to see them in a role where they're mopping up ninjas left and right just to give Iron Fist a chance to recover. It's like they're stuck in a supporting role even when the main character sucks. But if i'm right that this was meant as a continuity insert (and/or was a story intended to go earlier that just didn't get published until now) then it does almost serve a valuable purpose in showing Iron Fist needing to recover after his long time in a vegetable pod. On the other hand, if that was the case, it could have done a better job of coming to a resolution on that.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Sabretooth's telepath, Birdy, dies in the Sabretooth miniseries, and he should probably be predominately occupied with searching for a new one, a quest that culminates in X-Men Unlimited #3. I allowed some Sabretooth appearances during those two stories. Two of those appearances - in Battletide #1-4 and Darkhold #3-4 - are situations where Sabretooth has been summoned by an outside force, so it's not a problem for him to not be searching for a new telepath. In another one - Designer Genes - he's very obviously disturbed, which fits well with the idea that he doesn't have a telepath. It's less easy to justify this story, and it therefore makes sense to push this prior to the Sabretooth miniseries and Wolverine #60-64 (which should be Sabretooth's only appearance prior to the mini)(and not after X-Men Unlimited #3 since he's a prisoner of the X-Men at that point). This aligns nicely with the idea that this is Iron Fist's first outing since his resurrection. I should also note that in Iron Fist's first published appearance after the resurrection in Namor, in Cage #9, he thinks to himself, "My recovery is nearly complete", which again fits nicely with the idea that he is recovering here, and recovers further after this story.
Note that i'm tagging this as a Continuity Insert without the (inventory story) caveat, but that's based only on my deductions.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
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