Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Face-Off: Power Man or Iron Fist?

Martinex1: Today's Face-Off question is: Power Man or Iron Fist?  What do you have to say about these Marvel powerhouse creations of the 70's?  Which hero do you prefer from the height of the Bronze Age?  
Danny Rand, a martial arts master?
Or Luke Cage, a hard fisted fighter?

Luke debuted in Hero For Hire #1 on newsstands March 1972.

Danny first appeared in Marvel Premiere in spinner racks February 1974.

Iron Fist was trained in the mystical city of K'un L'un and had a fist like a thing of iron!

Power Man underwent chemical experimentation while wrongfully incarcerated and had skin of steel!

Iron Fist had crazy kung fu skills and could take on hordes of ninjas!

Power Man was strong enough to join the Fantastic Four!

Iron Fist will soon have a Netflix series starring Finn Jones from Game of Thrones!

Luke Cage will soon have a Netflix series starring Michael Colter reprising his role from Jessica Jones!

Iron Fist was quite formidable on his own!

And Power Man sure didn't need any help!

They teamed up for a while, but today they are facing off!


Edo Bosnar said...

Aw, c'mon: Luke and Danny will always be the ultimate superhero buddies in my mind. You can't have them face off!
Actually, though, this one is pretty easy for me. While I like Iron Fist well enough, I think he was best when he hitched his wagon to the Power Man train. Luke Cage is all around just a better character in my mind.

By the way, I couldn't help but think of this question at a meta pop culture level, i.e., a choice between two really popular genres from the 1970s, the so-called blaxploitation movies and the martial arts craze. Again, a no-brainer choice for me: the former by a mile...

Redartz said...

Yeah, what Edo said! I certainly like both characters, and read about them early on. As Edo noted, they make up one of comicdom's premier duos. Perhaps I just find Luke to be a more interesting personality. Regardless, both are cool, and their badinage ( today's word to play with) is always entertaining.

david_b said...

Since ASM 123 will ALWAYS be a favorite comic of mine, I'd have to go with Luke. Just something totally bombastic and obnoxiously-Blaxploitative as Marvel tried to get in on that readership.

Granted, while they did the same with Iron Fist, I never quite got into all the martial arts stuff, so hence I didn't bother with him. It looks like it made for a nice duo, but I never followed the title.

Anonymous said...

Gotta go with the flow here and vote for Luke. Like david_b, ASM 123 was one of my first favorite comics. Luke also had some nice runs in the Defenders and the FF shortly after that. I don't dislike Iron Fist, I just wasn't as into him. I was much more of a Shang-Chi guy when it came to martial arts.

By the time they became a duo, my interest in comics was on the wane. I know others have spoken highly of their partnership. I may have to track down some good PM & IF stories.


Martinex1 said...

What I find interesting is that Iron Fist arguably had the better costume, better art with Byrne, and fought more recognizable adversaries (Iron Man, Cap, X-Men, intro of Sabretooth, Boomerang,etc). Claremont was writing and starting to get some traction on the title.

Power Man had George Tuska (who I like but was not a trendy superstar) and Ron Wilson and others. Luke fought characters like Steeplejack and Chemistro. The title did have Englehart for a handful of issues but writing
chores rotated from Thomas to Goodwin to Englehart to Wein to Isabella and McGregor and Mantlo to name a few.

I find the Luke stories and characters much more lasting and creative despite the inconsistency. I think Luke has a better and unique origin. Iron Fist's origin is a combination of Spider-Man/Batman with the loss of parental figures and Dr. Strange with the mystical teaching.

I do agree that their team-up book was really quite good and the differences of the characters really helped accentuate the other. I am not sure if the stories are collected but I really enjoyed the PMIF title.

Karen said...

I guess I will be the lone wolf here and say Iron Fist! I like Luke but I love Iron Fist. I've always been a martial arts fan and Iron Fist had that great combo of martial arts and mysticism. There was also the revenge motive with the murder of his parents by Meachum. The Iron Fist -"like unto a thing of Iron!" The dragon Shou Lao. Lei Kung the Thunderer...it's just so mythic yet he was also fighting street level villains. And when Danny came to America there was the fish out of water aspect. So without a doubt, Iron Fist for me.

Mike said...

What do you say when your kid asks you which child is your favorite? You cop-out and tell them that you "love them equally". Hence, my answer here. The original PM/IF team-up series is one of my all-time favorites making this pretty-much impossible for me to choose. I can't think of one character without the other. I tend to favor Martial Arts type characters, but IF is always at his best teamed with PM - and vice versa. Sorry guys, I might be wimping out, but I can't choose.

Btw, a modern solo Iron Fist title that was surprisingly good was "The Immortal Iron Fist". Worth a browse if you see it on the shelf.

Anonymous said...

Leaving aside the question of which character I like better, I'm gonna come at it from a different angle -- who had a better run of top-to-bottom quality issues?

Iron Fist started well, the debut issue is pretty great. But then the next batch of issues were fairly bland, by revolving-door creatives teams who struggled to find a dynamic direction for the series. Situation got much better when Claremont and Byrne took over for a nice (but short) run.

Cage was terrific right out of the gate -- the first handful of issues were quite gritty by 1970s standards, with nifty art by Tuska and Graham (whose moody inks I credit for much of the sleazy atmosphere). Cage himself was full of personality, and his mercenary "I'm only in it for the money, baby" attitude was a distinct difference from the usual Superhero M.O. The first 15 or so issues are consistently entertaining. Some of his rougher edges got sanded down with the title switch from HERO FOR HIRE to the much-more-generic POWER MAN, and much of the book's unique feel evaporated when Graham left for the green pastures of Wakanda. Things picked up again a bit later when Don McGregor took over the writing for a nice idiosyncratic run of six or so issues.

So -- Cage still wins.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, I'm just now reading my Iron Fist Epic Collection (I'm into about issue 2 of post-Marvel Premiere, solo series) so I've been totally steeped in all of that Iron Fist lore recently - so I understand where you're coming from. But despite all that, I'm still sticking by my preference for Luke/Power Man. (Also, looking forward to starting the PM/IF Epic book as soon as I finish the Iron Fist volume.)

J.A. Morris said...

Like Edo, I'm in the middle of the Iron Fist Epic Collection. I enjoy it, mainly for the Byrne art (even if he was still "becoming" John Byrne) and Claremont's trademark purple prose. But some of the stories are a slog. So I'm going with Luke Cage, he was less pulpy and had better villains. Give me Cockroach Hamilton and Goldbug any day over Scimitar.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is a hard choice. Luke is just so cool (I even liked the way Bendis wrote him, because he gave him a sense of humour), but Danny's got all the martial arts stuff, which I love...but then he "died" and came back and was never quite the same after. So I'd say it's a tie for me...depending on the particular story, I might favor either one.

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Hmm real toughie here, but I'll go with Karen and pick our favourite K'un L'un kid,Iron Fist, being the martial arts/mystic dragon aficionado that I am. Eastern philosophy always appealed to me, being Asian myself, but having said that I also loved Power Man's initial run. Luke's mercenary attitude towards superheroing was a stark change from the noble intentions of heroes like Superman or even Captain America.

Both titles emerged from the cultural trends of the time, namely blaxploitation and the kung fu craze. Having Iron Fist and Power Man team up was a stroke of genius; let's just say IF was peanut butter, PM was jelly and baby you know what a sweet combo these two would make!

- Mike 'sweet Christmas!'from Trinidad & Tobago.

Martinex1 said...

It's such a hard decision isn't it? Karen reminding me of Shou Lao and the Thunderer may pull me over. Those are great stories. I'm 49/51 on my own topic. Really good characters from the 2nd wave at Marvel. Maybe the best from that era???

William said...

It's hard to choose between these two because I really dig them both as characters, but if I had to pick a favorite it would definitely be Iron Fist.

I discovered the kung fu kid from K'un L'un a while before I did Luke Cage, plus I am a huge martial arts fan. I have an entire shelf of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Chuck Norris, and etc. DVD's and Blu-Rays.

It also doesn't hurt that the entire run of Iron Fist's original solo comic was produced by the superstar team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Still some of the best comics ever made in IMO. And I absolutely loved the 3-part story that ran through Power Man #48-49, and Power Man and Iron Fist #50, which featured the origin of one of the best superhero buddy comics of all time. (Also written and drawn by Claremont and Byrne). I can still feel the impact of the "iron fist" punch that Danny used to send Luke flying through a wall on their very first meeting.

I'm a little skeptical about how they are going to handle Danny in the upcoming Netflix series. They've done a pretty good job so far with Daredevil (pretty good but not perfect). So, I'll just have to wait and see I suppose.

I'm not a fan of the more recent versions of Iron Fist (like the Immortal Iron Fist series), and that is what they will most likely draw from for the live action series. So, fingers crossed they don't screw it up too much.

William said...

Mike Wilson:

Danny (Iron Fist) didn't actually ever die. That was a member of the H'ylithri race that was posing as Iron Fist (the one in the red suit), and it was he who was beaten to death by the character Captain Hero.

Meanwhile Danny was being held captive (and in suspended animation) by the H'ylithri back in K'un L'un.

He was eventually freed from his stasis prison and rescued by Prince Namor and Wolverine.

While he did have cancer at one time, he never died from it. He was able to use the power of the Iron Fist to cure himself while he was being held in stasis. So, technically he didn't actually return from the dead.

Anonymous said...

@William: I know, that's why I put "died" in quotes :) That whole storyline (and all the later explanations) were really convoluted...didn't Captain Hero turn out to be Super Skrull and Tyrone was actually Master Khan? Nobody was who they seemed.

Mike Wilson

Redartz said...

And here I always thought Captain Hero was Jughead...

William said...

Mike, Oh sorry. :) Didn't notice the "quotes".

Also, yeah, I think Captain Hero did turn out to be Super Skrull and Tyrone was Master Khan (don't remember all the details). That all played out in the last few issues of Namor that John Byrne worked on. It was actually a pretty good story. I've always liked Super Skrull, and I was very happy that Iron Fist wasn't really dead. Even though, after they brought him back, they didn't really do anything very interesting with him.

Anonymous said...

@Redartz: Ha! I have a Captain Hero Digest with Jughead (and the others) as superheroes...crazy stuff.

@William: Yeah, after Byrne brought Iron Fist back, it seemed like no other writers knew what to do with him...although I've heard good things about Immortal Iron Fist, but I've never read it.

Mike Wilson

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