Iron Fist and Cage have always been a duo I want more of in part because modern comics (the last 10 to 15 years anyway) have had these two teaming up on the Avengers and that’s it. Let’s get back to the old days when they were punching out crooks in the street, right? It’s a tricky thing to pull off given how big Marvel stories get these days, but Walker aims to deliver a smaller scale story that’s just as meaningful.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The battle for Harlem begins! As Luke Cage and Danny Rand struggle to pick up the pieces after Civil War II, the ultimate turf war erupts right under their noses! Tombstone, Mr. Fish, Piranha, Cottonmouth, Black Cat and a mysterious new player are all vying for a piece of the pie – and New York is caught in the crossfire! Power Man and Iron Fist fight to take back the streets, but Luke has other problems too – big ones. Jessica Jones has left him, and taken their daughter with her. Cage isn’t taking it well – and while Danny wants to be there for his friend, he’s got issues of his own. Meanwhile, double, double, toil and trouble are brewing… Luke and Danny are handy in a fight, but how do you punch magic?
Why does this matter?
This volume collects Power Man and Iron Fist #10 through #15 which wraps up David F. Walker’s run. It also is very much focused on the street, so if you like your superheroes in street level format this is for you!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The villain is pretty interesting.
There’s a variety of characters familiar and less so that pop in and out of this collection which makes it feel like a rich dip into Marvel lore. For every Black Cat there’s a Gamecock and it’s very clear from the get go Walker is filling this with has beens and washed ups for the express purpose of showing readers the street side of Marvel is complex and storied. The biggest surprise from these characters is Disco Devil who was introduced in the first issue and ends up being a fun and interesting character. He practices street magic (get it?) and gives Iron Fist and Cage a magical angle throughout the story. He’s somewhat of a sidekick of theirs who plays a bigger part in the end when demons come mucking about.
The plot of the story is pretty sound too. Cage and Iron Fist have basically uncovered criminals may be innocent as they’ve been sent to the slammer via some shady software. They’re on a mission to stop this from happening, which is an obvious allusion to real life people these days going to jail for nothing at all. When the villain is spouting off dialogue pointing out you go to jail for dropping bodies and tax fraud you know we’re dealing with a villain with a modern look on crime.
Iron Fist and Cage end up having some deeply meaningful moments which adds to the enjoyment of the read. One involves Iron Fist taking the blame for all the bad things that have happened in the series and Cage simply has the perfect reaction. Walker reminds readers these guys aren’t just friends, but brothers.
The art is by Sanford Greene (with Elmo Bondoc on issue #13) with colors by Lee Loughridge in a style that’s reminiscent of Hip Hop Family Tree. It’s great at capturing the fighting style of these two brawlers and is more than capable of capturing the longtime friendship of the two main leads.
Certainly some good fight scenes in thsi one.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The book opens nicely with action, but then the middle portion dips into some heavy handed detective work. The exposition via dialogue and captions can make it a slog to get through some of the pages. For long portions of the book there’s little action made even more obvious when characters end up talking to no end. The detective angle never really worked for me, which made its focus a bit harder to get through it all.
The art at times can seem unfinished or at least unbalanced. Black Cat ends up looking horrid at times (maybe she’s coming off a bender?) and the muddled style and color doesn’t do the art favors in the heavier dialogue moments. There are times when characters don’t even have eyes drawn, which can pull you out of the story.
Is It Good?
This is a good collection that should be read only if you’ve read the last volumes since the detective story pays off for longtime readers. Walker has a bit of magic on his hands here with a street level book that ties in the lesser known characters well. It does lack a lot of action so jump on board if you’re hungry for a detective story heavier on dialogue.