Power Man & Iron Fist #125
Issue(s): Power Man & Iron Fist #125
During the fight, Iron Fist gets aggressive, and his costume turns red while using his chi power (even though Fist wasn't using lethal force).
After Lumus escapes, Fist tells Maxine Walters that his costume changed color because his mystic forces sensed a impurity in him. He's confused by this considering that last issue he seemed to be absolved, but Maxine reveals that last issue's adventure was actually a set-up by her, Luke, and Gordy to help get him out of his funk. When he hears that, he has a very public falling out with Luke in front of the press that have gathered due to the attack from Lumus.
And that's the set-up for the real plot of this issue, which has Bobby Wright's cancer taking a turn for the worse. The Falcon, who notifies Iron Fist, also calls in the Avengers, who bring Mr. Fantastic and Henry Pym along with them.
I know that Bobby's cancer is somewhat unusual since (ignoring the retcon about him) it was caused by a radioactive space spore, but it is kind of suspect that Marvel's super-scientists only get together to try to cure cancer when one of their own is affected. Even when Avengers file-bookworm Monica Rambeau reminds them of the special cancer fighting abilities of the original Captain Marvel's Nega-Bands, Captain America really has to push Mr. Fantastic to get involved.
Iron Fist uses his chi energy to stabilize Bobby while the super-scientists do their research.
Meanwhile, Lumus resurfaces and Gordy and Power Man take him out.
Luke is then encouraged to reconcile with his friend...
...and he does so as Pym and Richards apply the synthetic Nega-Bands.
However, the use of his chi for so long has zonked Iron Fist out, to the point where - foreshadowing - he doesn't even wake up when the 300lb Luke accidentally breaks the chair he's sitting in.
Luke goes to get some provisions and while he's away, Bobby wakes up, confused and in pain.
He tries to wake up Iron Fist but can't, and so he transforms into his Captain Hero persona and unwittingly beats Danny to death trying to wake him.
Cage returns to find Iron Fist dead and Bobby disappearing.
And because Luke and Danny had a public falling out, and because Iron Fist was beaten to death, Luke is arrested for the death of Danny and interrogated by D.A. Tower, Lieutenant Chris Keating, Gordy, and Tyrone King. King and Gordy don't believe that Cage is guilty, but Tower and Keating do. After telling his story, Cage breaks out, becoming a fugitive again. And so he doesn't get to attend Fist's funeral.
We do see Cage at the end with Misty.
Before that, the final gift from Jon Lumus - bombs that kill CCI CEO Maxine Walters...
...and fail to kill the mysterious Tyrone King.
Some notes on this issue from Christopher Priest's website:
My run on POWER/FIST is likely most notorious for the series finale, in which Iron Fist was shockingly and inexplicably killed. This is one of those moments I find alternately flattering and annoying at once. Fist's death was senseless and shocking and completely unforeseen. It took the readers' heads clean off. And, to this day, people are mad about it. Forgetting, it seems, that (a) you were supposed to be mad, that death is senseless and Fist's death was supposed to be senseless, or that (b) this is a comic book. I already had a way to bring Fist back, and Fist creator John Byrne would certainly bring him back if I didn't get to it first.
You can see in the comments here that people are still upset about this ending. One thing to note is that Denny O'Neil was not officially editor of this book by the time this issue came out, but i guess he set things in motion and it certainly seems Priest and Bright were on board with the decision anyway (it's hard to believe that Priest, a top level editor at Marvel at this time, was beholden to the dictates of an editor that had been fired). It also is pretty clear how Iron Fist's death could have been reversed even without any H'ylthri imposters. And i do think it's a powerful end to the series.
It also seems to be the case that there was an intended hand-off to Roger Stern, with this plot getting resolved (Iron Fist getting resurrected and Cage cleared), but that didn't happen since Roger Stern was fired from the Avengers.
I've always felt this series had potential that was never fully realized until the Priest/Bright run. I would have loved to see Claremont and Byrne continue on the series after they merged the two solo books. And there were certainly high points in various issues by Duffy, Busiek, and others. But it was with Priest and Bright that i felt like we were getting consistently good stories and art that were part of a larger storyline with an expanded cast. So i can understand the feelings that came with being forced to cancel the book, and i think that emotion was put into this story in a constructive way.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP puts this in the same gap as Hulk #320-323 for the Avengers and FF characters. In addition to them, we can see Spider-Man and Daredevil at Iron Fist's funeral. Spider-Man being in his red and blue costume while Daredevil is also in costume creates complications. Daredevil was in the middle of the Born Again saga at this point, and was being driven mad and was costume-less until the end of that saga. Spider-Man, meanwhile, had his red and blue costume destroyed in the Missing In Action mini-event, as shown in Web of Spider-Man #18. And earlier in Missing In Action (shown in flashback in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118), while Spider-Man was missing, we have the Foreigner talking to Kingpin about the Nuke debacle from the final issue of Born Again. So by the time Spider-Man returns from being missing, which is after Born Again, his red and blue costume is destroyed (and doesn't come back for a long while). That means that this issue has to take place before the end of Born Again. But we can't go back to before the beginning of Born Again because that starts during Christmas, which places it before Luke Cage's appearance in Vision and the Scarlet Witch #8, which takes place on Martin Luther King Day and which took place while Iron Fist was still alive (i could of course write off the Christmas reference as being temporal but it would still be pushing this issue quite a ways back). So that means this issue should take place during Born Again. And the only time to do that would be the same gap as Daredevil's appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #277, between Daredevil #229-230. In that issue, Matt Murdock contacts Spider-Man and tells him where to find him. So i'm proposing that when Spider-Man gets word of Iron Fist's death and funeral, he ill-advisedly contacts Daredevil again, maybe thinking it would do him some good to get out and see people, and perhaps even brings him a makeshift costume, which, note, we only see from the back. We also don't see Daredevil's face or hear any dialogue or thought bubbles from him. After the funeral, he relapsed, tore off his costume, and Spider-Man returned him to the mission. I'm obviously making up my own stories here but i don't like the alternatives. The MCP place this between DD #231-232, which would mean it's a fully bearded Matt Murdock wearing the DD costume. He was scruffy between #229-230 but he could still feasibly wear the costume without drawing attention, or he could even have shaved and still regrown the beard in time for #230, but there's no way he could have shaved and regrown the full beard between #231-232, and showing up at the funeral with a big red beard sticking out of his mask would have been fairly noteworthy (and i would have loved to see it!). Granted we don't see his face so it could have happened. More important than the beard is that i don't want to break up the flow of Born Again too much, especially for what's just a single panel with no lines here. We already have one hole in the story thanks to ASM #277 and placing this issue in the same gap is as reasonable as anything so i might as well use it.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
One major problem that people had with the ending was that Blake Tower seems convinced that Luke is guilty, and is willing to deny Luke his rights, with the implication that it's because Tower is racist, while Priest's pet characters Gordy and King know he's innocent. This is so completely out of character for Tower that Roger Stern planned to retcon the ending by explaining that everything after Luke fell asleep was an illusion created by Master Khan.
Posted by: Michael | December 1, 2013 4:49 PM
I can definitely see that complaint. It's easy to see Keating distrusting Cage but Tower has always been more accepting of super-vigilantes.
I did find that in Cage and Tower's only previous interaction in Power Man & Iron Fist #53, Tower wasn't so trusting of Cage. I'm sure Priest didn't have that scene in mind, but generally speaking you could argue that Tower might be somewhat less trusting of a former fugitive and someone who acted as a "hero for hire" in his early appearances. Still, Priest would have been better served making up a new prosecutor instead of using Tower.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 1, 2013 5:33 PM
What a terrible issue and send off. That quote by Priest is my major reason why I am so frustrated by him as a writer. "I intended the story to annoy readers. I succeeded. Readers were annoyed. What's wrong with them? By being annoyed, they missed the point!" Maybe if Priest was less inclined to write stories with the intent of offending readers, "educate" them, or whatever, and write stories meant to entertain them, he would have been more successful.
Priest has many great attributes as a writer. He is great with humor. He excels in characterization. He builds supporting casts. And importantly for PM&IF, he writes from the black experience which really benefits Luke Cage. Yet while I recognize all these strengths and want to like his books, I am always disappointed.
I do agree that the book was getting better in many ways, yet it still wasn't a very good superhero book. Priest's villains were less than stellar, and the plots not very interesting. Even if things had gotten a lot better, I wonder if it would have made any difference, as the lowest selling titles were cancelled to make way for the New Universe. How many thousands of issues per month would it have needed to survive, and would it have only meant some other title got the axe?
Posted by: Chris | December 1, 2013 7:52 PM
I agree with Chris (the comment, not Priest). It's one thing to kill Iron Fist, it's one thing to kill him in a shocking or inexplicable way, but there's "shock pointless" and just plain stupid, and I think this falls in the latter category (for some reason, I think I would be more satisfied if the kid just blew up and Iron Fist died then). But the ending...I dunno, to use an extreme example, it's like if Rick Blaine walks into a plane propeller at the end of Casablanca. It's just stupid. On the other hand, if Rick is suddenly shot by a random Nazi, it's less stupid. I don't know if this makes sense, I just feel like Priest didn't have a good handle on what was the difference between "shocking to illustrate pointlessness" and "pointlessness."
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | December 2, 2013 4:32 PM
Having read Priest's comments on race that you linked to from V&SW #8, he does seem to have an idea of how much he can be a pain. He reminds me of the line from Guardians: he's an asshole, but he's not 100% a dick.
The problem is that in certain circumstances his defense of himself falls completely flat. I agree that this death is just stupid. Shocking and pointless is one thing, but this was just stupid. But it's Priest's specific defense of it that annoys me even more: "It wasn't bad writing. The fact that, thirteen years after the fact, people are still annoyed about it speaks to the quality of the work."
Um, wrong. Just because people are still annoyed about it doesn't say anything about the quality of it. It just means they are annoyed with it. Want a death scene that is completely shocking but isn't stupid? Try Guardian's in Alpha Flight #12. Even Scott Lang's death scene in Disassembled was shocking and pointless and well beyond gratuitous, but it wasn't stupid.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 13, 2015 6:18 AM
I don't get why this has to be the end for Luke and Danny, one murdered by a brat who happens to be a form of the Super-Skrull and the other forced in hiding. On the surface it probably makes a little sense: they represent fads of the previous decade, Luke being blaxploitation; Danny kung-fu. But in many ways their characterizations and evolution made them grow beyond why they were created in the first place. Luke may have been made for a fad but he technically is the first true African-American hero who was able to get his own book and who technically was the one who lead to the entire length of the 125 issues, even with the need for Iron Fist to survive into the mid-80s. Prior to him, the only notable African hero was an actual African from a fictional country that of course had legitimacy of being part of Lee/Kirby's major run with the Fantastic 4. Sure Luke Cage isn't necessarily the most ideal breaker of barriers but he did it and he did it his way. And of course Danny had Claremont and Byrne define him and his world even before joining with Luke. His background brought in new elements that added more flavor to the Marvelverse that would luckily be eventually developed by better writers.
But the biggest problem is that Power Man and Iron Fist didn't fit with what was being removed and cleaned away by this point in the Shooter reign. This isn't like the removal of the Savage Land or vampires: those two were integral and a major section of the books since at least the early 70s and part of what made Marvel what it was. What hurts it more is that because of this, Luke basically vanishes until the early 90s when they finally bring him back (with the infamous "black Punisher" story of all things) while it takes Byrne to salvage and save Danny with the whole "he's some plant creature" explanation. Really all that happened is they lost five years of existence...its not like the two of them are going to be instrumental in street level matters during Inferno or dealing with Thanos, but five years is a long time in comics, enough that who knows what they could have done during that time instead of being in limbo due to this infamous ending.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 27, 2015 10:06 PM
Didn't read the books and don't have much affection for the characters, but I'll suggest it's like the problem DC had with Hawkman, that he had been so messed up by creative teams that nobody had the slightest clue what to do with him, to the point where DC forbade anybody to use him for several years.
Marvel's problem is about as inverse as you can get. Power Man is a perfect Blaxploitation character. Iron Fist is Kung-Fu/martial artist stereotype. Add in Misty and Colleen as action chicks/love interests, and you have the best concentrated possibility for stories since... well, I don't know. Since Clark Kent took off his glasses. Since Will Eisner decided to stories he actually cared about. Doesn't matter. Between the four of them, there should be an endless supply of interesting stories.
Whatever merits the "Power Man/Iron Fist" series has, that's probably one of the worst things I have to say about Marvel, that they can't see the potential of Luke, Danny, Misty and Colleen. Again, I don't even like these characters, or know much about them, but they have everything needed to tell interesting stories.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 28, 2015 2:15 AM
Think of Power Man and Iron Fist as John Travolta or Burt Reynolds. By 1986, these guys all seemed like cornball 1970s relics. Iron Fist-style chop-socky didn't seem cool in the ninja era, and Power Man always occupied an awkward position as Marvel's idea of some kind of black urban hero archetype. Black writers, and a few white ones, did develop Luke well at times, but on the whole this was a character a very white publisher didn't know what to do with. Add to that the usually quirky or second-tier talent on the book--Priest is great, but his work can be a hard sell to most readers--and it's clear why PM&IF was doomed.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 28, 2015 3:41 AM
I agree. I meant what I wrote earlier purely in a 'with 30 years of hindsight' spirit. Luke is actually the character I know least about. Colleen and Misty at least showed up in "X-Men" a few times and I've read at least two Iron Fist appearances in "Marvel Team-Up" (Drom the backwards man and that completely unmemorable Claremont-Byrne story.) Luke and Danny themselves, I really only know from "Secret Wars II" #2, hardly a high point of their career.
It's just, I'm not a fan of the characters, or their respective genres, but as a writer, these are some of the most promising characters Marvel owns. They can do gritty, they can do buddy comedy, they can do mindless violence, they can have love lives and personal problems. The chicks can hold their own stories, as friends, as action chicks, as love interests, as individuals with their own problems. Just mix and match these traits and I can't see how you could have a bad series. And I say this with complete ignorance of the villains or the supporting cast.
Issue #1, set up the premise, Luke and Danny are the stars [it's their names on the cover after all] Colleen and Misty play a prominent role. #2, the focus is on the girls. #3, set up a longer storyline, probably having to do with Iron Fist's history, because that's where the most likely villains would probably come from. #4, Power Man responds to that problem. #5, Misty is involved in her own case [I assume she's still a cop] which builds-up the longer storyline. #6, Colleen has her own issues. I don't know if her Samurai status has any connection to Iron Fist's history, but it could work either way. #7, Danny and Colleen. #8, Misty and Luke. #9, build-up to the conclusion. #10, big fight. The good guys win. Yay. #11, a downtime issue that plays mix-and-match with the above-mentioned traits, and then #12 is a sudden big fight which reinforces the premise established in the first issue.
And this is with complete ignorance of the supporting cast, the villains, or honestly, of the characters. Why Marvel doesn't have "Power Man," "Iron Fist" and "Daughters of the Dragon" movies well into production with the intended team-up sequel is beyond me. If Marvel wanted me to write a 12-issue run, I'd say 'send over the reference material, I'll let you know if I can come up with a good story.' Again, I've already come up with all this without being a fan of the characters or their respective genres.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 28, 2015 7:47 PM
Well for one thing, Luke's getting a TV series considering he already showed up in Jessica Jones' series. (from what I heard, he's a regular in her show and his will be a prologue to that; then Danny will show up before the Defenders)
I think the only thing that pissed me off, as I said, is that basically after this finale, both vanish for five years. Five whole years is a long time in comics, especially with two heroes who proved themselves to be more than just their fads they were created for. Its impossible to know what roles they could have had if Power Man and Iron Fist existed in that '86-'91 gap.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 28, 2015 8:30 PM
You all should *really* check out the 'Jessica Jones' series! Totally lives up to the hype.
Posted by: cullen | December 28, 2015 8:56 PM
I'm sure I'd heard that, but I don't watch television and haven't owned one in over ten years, so that's the kind of stuff that I just don't retain. Between Netflix and whatever internet services there are, not to mention actual television, I'm not sure I even understand the concept anymore. I at least get movies - having seen two of them in 2015, basically a record in recent years - and liked the "Avengers" movies, so that's the format I'm going with. Consider my comments suitably amended for those of you with more interest in the respective mediums.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 28, 2015 8:57 PM
Finally got to the last five episodes of Daredevil season 1. Great show is great. Can't wait to check out Jessica Jones next.
Posted by: david banes | December 28, 2015 10:04 PM
It seemed like Priest was the go-to guy to finish off series nearing cancellation or suffering from lagging sales. In the '90's alone, he would follow the Waid/Kubert run on Ka-Zar's book and write the last 6 issues (although some would argue the drastic change in art style from Andy Kubert to Kenny Martinez was the true death-knell), plus he would finish the Steel and Hawkman runs at DC during the decade.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 7, 2017 11:18 PM
Interestingly, this was the second Marvel book to end with two partners in adventure, one black and one white. The short-lived early-70's western book, The Gunhawks, ended with Kid Cassidy, the white partner, shot and killed with Reno Jones, the black partner, believed to be the killer and left on the run. Jones' saga would continue in the popular 2000 John Ostrander/Leonardo Manco mini-series BLAZE OF GLORY: THE LAST RIDE OF THE WESTERN HEROES. Yes, I know Marvel westerns aren't covered here, but I'm a horse opera fan myself, and I highly recommend the mini for both the story and Manco's gritty, realistic take on Marvel's classic cowboys.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 7, 2017 11:54 PM
Just to echo previous commentators, it is strange that Marvel never really got this series right. There were so many strong elements: the two lead characters both had rogues' galleries and supporting characters to feed on, their chalk and cheese personalities and power-sets should have sparked interesting stories and the "Heroes for Hire" situation was a great way to provide fun, unique adventures and/or morally ambiguous ones. Yet the stories were always repetitious and the status quo remained static.
This issue really demonstrates the way a host of writers never seemed able to utilise the series' strengths. Priest had been given the green light to conclude the series with one main character dead and the other arrested for his murder. That should have been a marvellous way to end the characters. It should have been operatic. A Greek Tragedy. Instead, Priest writes that, "I agreed to write the story on the condition that IF's death be senseless and, actually, extant to the story itself." Why? Why would any professional writer want to do that?
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | December 9, 2017 6:28 AM
Posted by: AF | December 9, 2017 6:36 AM
One difficulty writers might have had is that PM&IF has too many strong concepts. You have blaxploitation street crime, kung fu superheroics, high finance corporate intrigue, and heroic mercenaries. It can be difficult to blend them in appropriately. Instead what we got was a low hanging fruit melange that made each into weak tea. I think it can be done though.
PM & IF are actually very powerful characters so ordinary street crime isn't actually a challenge. Best to use most main stories with rich people or corporations hiring them to take on equivalent threats in exotic locales and high concept plots. Then use a little of their villains based on each character's backstory. The street crime angle is best used as subplot showing Luke doing pro bono work, and slowly build up certain investigations so where they can take out the mid-level mastermind, he'll hire more powerful supervillains for a good fight.
And they really needed a good ongoing rogues gallery. Finding great villains that look good, present a challenge, and appear repeatedly is key for any ongoing series to be a success.
Posted by: Chris | December 9, 2017 2:33 PM
I agree that the "Heroes for Hire" concept should have segue into exciting adventures in exotic locales and high concept plots. I am bemused that it so rarely did. It seems such an obvious route to take.
On the question of villains, well Master Khan, Sabretooth, Nightshade, Constrictor, Eel have all been involved in interesting stories away from this series. They just weren't utilised very well.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | December 10, 2017 7:02 PM
I agree that they had some good villains. The Constrictor & Sabretooth team could have been much bigger than they were. That team really could have been their archnemeses. Master Khan is a good mastermind level villain. I think even the villains around Princess Azir had some potential for longevity and their own mythos. And they had the occasional other villain that had potential (like Warhawk, the second Eel, Montengro). And bring back Bushmaster as an ongoing antagonist! And they could have used some of the lesser used villains from other rogue galleries. Spider in particular developed a deep bench over his countless titles. Scorpion, for example, could have been a good opponent for both heroes.
Mix in some friendly rivals like Paladin as their mercenary hero competitor, and that would be a good stew.
Part of the problem may have been some of the supporting cast who were not ordinary, and they would sometimes hijack the title from the leads. Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Bob Diamond, and some of the other martial artists were a bit too good and would distract from the titular heroes and have their own soap opera.
Posted by: Chris | December 10, 2017 10:21 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|