Power Man & Iron Fist #118-120
Issue(s): Power Man & Iron Fist #118, Power Man & Iron Fist #119, Power Man & Iron Fist #120
...seek out Dr. Druid...
...so that he can help them return to K'un-Lun.
Before they do that, though, they essentially sever their relationship with Gordy of SMILE.
Danny, Luke, Colleen, and Dr. Druid arrive in K'un-Lun to find the city destroyed. Lei Kung is still around, however...
...and he immediately begins the task of healing Danny. Danny should actually be able to use the Iron Fist power to heal himself, but he didn't stay in K'un-Lun long enough to receive the proper training.
Back in Iron Fist #4, Danny did use the power of the Iron Fist to heal himself, and that was after fighting a radioactive opponent, so this definitely seems like a contradiction of an established fact. You could argue that the pure radioactive poisoning that Danny is dealing with now is too much for him to handle on his own, due to his limited training, but that's being very generous.
Meanwhile, Dr. Druid wanders off, and Luke and Colleen explore the city, looking for the cause of the destruction. They find Chiantang.
He turns out to be a pretty tough fighter in human form...
...but more importantly, a dragon.
While Cage and Colleen fight Chiantang, Danny experiences the history of the dragons of K'un-Lun while he's being healed. The daughter of the Dragon King was shamed when she took a human lover from K'un-Lun who then left her. In response, Chiantang, the Dragon King's brother, rampaged through K'un-Lun. He found the human, Shou Lao, and turned him into a dragon. He removed his heart "and placed it - alive and throbbing - within a cauldron within the cave, where it will beat until time ends". A year later, Chiantang apologizes to Master Khan for destroying his city. And so things remain for a thousand years, until Danny Rand comes to K'un-Lun, defeats Shou Lao in battle, and becomes the Iron Fist by thrusting his hands into the dragon's heart. When Chiantang hears that Shou Lao is dead, he becomes angry and attempts to rampage through K'un-Lun again, but this time Master Khan stops him. Later, after Power Man and Iron Fist weaken Master Khan in PM&IF #75, Chiantang escapes imprisonment, accidentally kills his niece with a Dragonslayer sword that Khan gave to the guards that kept Chiantang in prison, and then rampaged through the city again, causing the recent destruction.
Using the power of the Iron Fist Chi for something other than a power punch is something that will be used in creative ways by more modern writers (although as Michael notes in the comments and i added above, this isn't the first time that ability was shown). However, in this same arc, the death of the dragon Shou Lao, which is an essential step in becoming an Iron Fist, is shown to be a unique event that upsets the dragon Chiantang. It will later be established that Daniel Rand is only the latest in a long line of Iron Fists; and presumably they all had to absorb the heart of the dragon to gain their power.
Anyway, Chiantang is able to defeat Colleen Wing and Luke Cage, and he attacks Lei Kung before Iron Fist is fully healed. Fist wakes up corrupted, and he's supposed to now be wearing a red tunic to represent that he's out of control, although it's still colored green at the end of issue #119 and the beginning of #120.
While Fist battles Chiantang...
...Cage and Lei Kung head to the underwater city of dragons to retrieve the Dragonslayer sword. There's a almost-too-cutesy development of grudging respect between Cage and Lei Kung as they fight together.
When they return, Cage has to stop Iron Fist from fighting Chiantang so they can get him out of the way and use the sword's magic.
The dragon is pushed by the sword's magic into another dimension...
...but we find out at the end, that the dimension in question is actually Earth.
A retcon during John Byrne's Namor run will reveal that Iron Fist is replaced by a H'ylthri at some point during this arc.
Normally my eyes glaze over during the mystical history stuff, but everything's written very cleverly here. A lot of humor and a crisp writing style go a long way.
I know it's not their book, but Colleen Wing and especially Dr. Druid don't get a lot of panel time. Colleen is knocked out early by Chaintang and then we don't see her for the rest of the arc. And Dr. Druid is deliberately written out. He's off exploring the ruins for the most part, called back to help Luke and Lei Kung get to the dragon city, and then disappears again soon afterward. In any event, it's nice to see Dr. Druid at all; Dr. Strange shouldn't be the only sorcerer that people call on when they need mystical help.
I really like M.D. "Doc" Bright's arc. Good pacing, nice dragons, great faces.
In the letters and responses in issue #120, it's clear that this book is near cancellation. Creatively, the book has been hitting its stride with the consistent team of Jim Owsley and Doc Bright. Unfortunately, neither that nor the upcoming Secret Wars II crossover will be enough to save it.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place while Dr. Strange is still in the Dark Dimension.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showChiantang, Colleen Wing, Dr. Druid, Gordy (SMILE), Iron Fist, Iron Fist H'ylthri Imposter, Lei Kung the Thunderer, Luke Cage
These issues caused a lot of criticism among fans- it's a plot point that Iron Fist can't heal himself from radiation without Lei Kung's help but he did so once before, during Iron Fist 4.
Posted by: Michael | May 28, 2012 8:29 AM
Thanks, i've added notes regarding that both on this entry and on issue #4 (along with a scan on that entry of him using his powers for healing).
Posted by: fnord12 | May 28, 2012 11:58 AM
Jim Owlsley (aka Christopher Priest) is a good writer in many respects. His characterization and dialogue are excellent. He does humor very well. He writes intelligently. He understands the importance of a supporting cast. And important for PM & IF, he knows African-American culture and includes it well in a book that if, quite frankly, meant for young white teenagers. While he doesn't know all bits of Marvel trivia, he keeps to continuity well and often utilizes little known characters (like Dr Druid in this arc) well. However, ultimately I always feel very lackluster about his plots. They simply don't excite or intrigue me. Despite his adept handling of the craft, he just doesn't have it in him to create the magic that writers like Roger Stern, Chris Claremont, Walter Simonson, or John Bryne had at the time.
Posted by: Chris | May 28, 2012 3:56 PM
Owsley stated in late 1984 that he hated Cage's yellow costume because it showed too much skin and seemed intended just to announce he was black, and he said he wanted Cage out of it for most of 1985. He doesn't seem to have been completely successful.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 30, 2013 7:04 PM
The dragon king character, and part of the story told, are based on an actual myth from Japan. One of my favourite tales, in fact...Who doesn't love the thought of a magical palace under the sea with a dragon?
Owsley's writing could be hit or miss at this point...I liked this story, not so much some of his other PM/IF plots. His run on Conan was a dreary chore. His Falcon mini I found as a huge misfire.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 1, 2014 12:26 AM
As has been mentioned, it is really impossible to reconcile this story with Iron Fist #4, and as a result, the whole story really feels contrived. Unfortunately, this seems to be a problem in both Owsley's (Priest's) writing and editing, where he has an intended result that he wants to achieve, regardless of a character's or series's internal continuity or consistency. Despite his strengths as a writer, I really have difficulty respecting his work, since it feels that he does not fully respect the characters that he writes about. As a reader, if I have developed an emotional investment in a character or a story concept, I want that investment to be shared or respected by the writer as well, otherwise I feel as if I am being manipulated by the writer. These issues certainly make me feel manipulated for the purpose of "sensational" storytelling, rather than logical storytelling.
Unfortunately, he is not alone in this fault at this time in Marvel, as increasingly more editor/writers begin developing the same fault. After reading stories by creators like Stern and Byrne, who were attentive to maintaining consistencies and addressing prior inconsistencies, stories like these issues of Power Man/Iron Fist started pushing me away from buying Marvel Comics. By the mid-1990s, I knew of many long-time fans who were no longer buying comics (regardless of company) or considering no longer buying comics for much the same reason.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 11, 2015 2:21 PM
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