Many think of Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man when they think of Marvel Comics, but as movie goers have learned after witnessing the wondrous Guardians of the Galaxy, there is a nearly bottomless bucket of characters from what has been called House of Ideas.
One of the more popular cult hits of the 70’s-80’s era of Marvel is Power Man and Iron Fist, a buddy cop meets superhero concept uniting the street level urban crime fighting of Luke Cage, Power Man with blue-eyed martial artist Iron Fist. The result was an unusual monthly book in which the heroes bonded, struggled to make a life of doing good pay the bills, had romances and even battled soda machines.
Created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr. (and drawn by the great George Tuska), Luke Cage was one of Marvel’s many creations that catered to the times (such as Son of Satan and Ghost Rider), in this case the then-popular Blaxploitation films such as Super Fly. A reluctant gang member Willis Stryker, Cage was framed for possession of heroin by a jealous crime boss and then experimented on in prison, giving him unbreakable skin and super strength that rivaled Ben Grimm’s. He sought out justice against his old friend Stryker and in the aftermath set up business as a ‘hero for hire.’
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Danny Rand was created Roy Thomas and Gil Kane to cash in on the Bruce Lee craze. Having trained in the mythical city of K’un-L’un, Rand bested the mighty dragon Shou-Lao the Undying, taking its power into himself, the ability to channel his chi into his fist, making it a thing unto iron.
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While their success waned in the 90’s, Power Man and Iron Fist have become more popular in recent years due to creators raising them once again to the attention of young readers. If not for the attention of Brian Michael Bendis who made Luke Cage an Avenger and Matt Fraction who crafted a lush mythology around Iron Fist (the new series by Kaare Andrews is great too!), the characters would surely have been forgotten.
Both characters will be receiving their own TV programs on Netflix next year alongside Daredevil and Jessica Jones. They will also be reuniting in print for what looks like a must read series.
Marvel is relaunching Power Man & Iron Fist as a new series in 2016, as revealed by Marvel at Fast Company. Writer David Walker (Cyborg, Shaft) and Sanford Greene (Runaways) are reuniting the one-time “Heroes For Hire” in a new series as part of “All-New All-Different Marvel” and in advance of the characters’ individual TV series on Netflix.
“About a year ago or so, [Marvel Editor-In-Chief] Axel Alonso asked me to list all the characters that I wanted to work with the most,” said Walker. “He said, ‘Don’t be limited—go as big as you want.’ At the very top of that list were Luke Cage and Danny Rand, and I put in parentheses after their names: ‘as a team.’ Because this was something that I’d wanted to see for years and years. That particular duo, they’re so iconic. As a writer, you love interesting characters, and those two characters are so fun to delve into. They are the ultimate bromantic couple.”
It’s been years since Luke Cage has gone by the “Power Man” name, and Walker is quick to note how much the character has evolved.
“Luke has grown more than most characters have in the past 35 to 40 years,” the writer said. “He has a kid, he’s married to someone who is a prominent player in the Marvel universe. . . . In comics as in real life, once you have a kid, everything is different.”
Although things might have changed since this team’s debut in 1978, series artist Sanford Greene said he didn’t want to forget Cage’s original look all together.
“As much as I’d love to put the tiara in there . . . ” Greene laughs. “But I did want to play off their classic looks. [The original costume] is a very highly regarded look, so I wanted to key in on some of that and make it look current, I wanted to play more into his new role as a husband and a father—more ‘business casual.'”
Series editor Jacob Thomas said that villains such as Tombstone and Black Mariah — the latter of which has been cast in the Luke Cage Netflix series — will be in Power Man & Iron Fist.
Power Man & Iron Fist is scheduled to debut in early 2016.
Essential Luke Cage Power Man Volume 1 TPB
Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist
Power Man & Iron Fist Epic Collection: Heroes for Hire
Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection
Luke Cage Noir