Power Man and Iron Fist #79
September 28, 2015
Reminding everyone that kung fu, ass-kicking, and science fiction are the best combination.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Patreon-sponsored review time again, and hoo, boy, have we got a weird one! I think we've seen enough of Luke Cage, Power Man, to have a grasp on him, so let's talk about Iron Fist.
(A shot of Shang-Chi are shown)
Linkara (v/o): So, from I've read, martial arts heroes were becoming a thing in the mid-'70s and it was becoming really popular at Marvel. While they had Shang-Chi, who we briefly mentioned back in the ROMTROSPECTIVE, he wasn't really a superhero in the same way; no secret identity; no costume, unless you call his gi a costume; and not really engaged in superheroics, although certainly fighting supervillainy in the same way other characters were at the time.
(Cut to shots of Iron Fist)
Linkara (v/o): Iron Fist, however, fully embraced the superhero stuff: mask and costume, secret identity, plus actual superpowers. The inspiration for him apparently came about from two rather different sources, the first being a Golden Age superhero called Amazing Man, who apparently had similar backstory elements, while another was apparently a kung fu movie that Roy Thomas had just seen. According to him, it was a movie that predated Bruce Lee and contained a "Ceremony of the Iron Fist", which he thought would make for a good character name. My Google fu has failed me, and thus I've been unable to find out what that movie was, but there you go. Iron Fist himself was a guy named Danny Rand, whose father discovered a mystical city called K'un-Lun (pronounces it "Ku-OO-LOON")... or K'un-Lun (pronounces "Kuhn-Luhn); I'm not sure about the pronunciation... and saved the life of the city's ruler. Danny's parents are killed on a second expedition to the city, and the grieving Danny was brought back to K'un-Lun and trained in martial arts, eventually going through a ritual battle to acquire the Power of the Iron Fist and getting himself a nice big dragon tattoo burned into his chest.
Linkara: "The Boy with the Dragon Tattoo" turned out to be a very different sort of story the Girl with one.
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, the character's solo book was unable to sustain itself after fifteen issues, and it was cancelled. However, to rescue the character while also help the fledgling sales of Luke Cage's book, the two were partnered together and have basically been besties ever since. Hell, remember a few months ago when I talked about Luke Cage joining up with the Punisher when he became a black guy?
Linkara: Just to remind you that that comic was indeed real?
Linkara (v/o): Well, apparently, the main reason Cage was in Chicago and kind of being bleak and faux-serious was because Iron Fist had been murdered. He got remember. Remember, comics. This partnership was actually pretty damn brilliant. You've got street-smart, downtrodden, take-no-crap Luke Cage, partnered with martial arts-trained, meditative, mystical Iron Fist. And what's even more funny is that it's mixing two film trends together that had already been working together. Luke Cage was created in connection with blaxploitation films becoming a thing, and Iron Fist as a result of kung fu movies becoming a thing, and theaters that showed blaxploitation films were also showing kung fu films, and both were a big hit with their audiences. Hell, ToddInTheShadows talked about this in his One Hit Wonderland episode on "Kung Fu Fighting".
Linkara: And thus, we get to this comic, which adds in something else that was a little bit silly and a little bit awesome from the '70s. But we'll get to that. For now, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Power Man and Iron Fist #79".
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "Macho Man" by the Village People playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover, despite being pretty action-packed, still seems a little iffy, due to the lack of a background. And yet, here we've got Luke Cage punching a robot's head off, another robot shooting a laser beam, and Iron Fist kicking another robot, although being less effective than Luke Cage is punching. But yeah, it looks awesome, but it feels slightly off.
Text: ...AND YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER COME– "THE DAY OF THE DREDLOX!"
Linkara: (dramatically) No one was prepared for the day the hairdressers rose up!
Linkara (v/o): We open with our main characters looking at one of the titular Dredlox, and there is of course a quick explanation of the series premise.
Narrator: LUKE CAGE: a child of the streets...
Linkara: And... you know, I'm sure there were some other important information about him, too.
Narrator: DANIEL RAND: a son of the mystic city of K'un-Lun...
Linkara: (narrator voice) Still waiting on last month's child support payment from them.
Narrator: Two men from different worlds – both reborn with strength and power beyond belief! And together, no one can stop them!
Linkara: (narrator voice) Although, sales numbers do a pretty good job of slowing them down.
Linkara (v/o): The two are looking at one of the Dredlox, which has such a reflective surface that we can see their faces in it.
Luke Cage: Incredible, isn't it, Fist?
Linkara: He's not talking to Iron Fist. Luke Cage just talks to his hand sometimes when preparing to (holds up fist) punch things.
Narrator: Gazing at the metallic surface of the robot in front of them, Power Man and Iron Fist-- the heroes for hire--find it hard to accept what they see...
Linkara: (as Power Man) A remote-controlled robot made out of metal, having all of these features, and it's only twenty bucks?! That can't be right!
Linkara (v/o): It's revealed the "Day of the Dredlox" is actually a Broadway play and the two heroes are behind stage, looking at the props.
Luke: An' when the play's over, an' you look at 'em up close, you can see 'em for the flimsy, hollow hunks a' junk they really are.
Linkara: Well, then I'm really confused about why Iron Fist was having so much trouble on the cover. Does all the muscle power in his foot transfer to his hand or something?
Linkara (v/o): They're quickly met by Robert Diamond, the star of the show, and also from a previous kung fu-themed comic, and some woman who I don't know, but is probably a supporting character in the series or something.
Robert: Hardly junk, Luke. Let's be fair. "The Day of the Dredlox" has the most sophisticated special effects currently on Broadway...
Linkara: (as Robert) And still less injuries than Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Robert: The robots are radio controlled, with special light and sound effects for their death rays!
Linkara: (exaggeratedly) Special light and sound effects? Ho! Truly, they have spared no expense for this Broadway play.
Linkara (v/o): Robert plays the star of the whole thing, Professor J.A. Gamble, and invites the two heroes to join him for the afterparty as soon as he changes out of costume.
Danny: But we're still in our costumes.
Linkara: (as Danny) If we have to dress like this, you have to dress like this.
Luke: Yeah, we don't usually socialize in our workin' clothes!
Linkara (v/o): Then why did you wear them to Broadway night? Also... Oh, hi, Venjix. So that's where you ended up. However, apparently, there's only one crew member on Broadway, since this janitor guy starts thinking how unfair it is that he has to do all the work while Diamond gets all the glory. However, there's a flash of red, a scream, and then he's gone.
Linkara: He's right, though: janitors get no respect. They clean up everybody else's crap, they work long hours, and get no thanks for it. (points to camera) You treat janitors with respect, people. Plus, if you don't, they'll torment you for eight years while inventing new and interesting devices.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Janitor: (dramatically holding up a...) Knife wrench!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So the next morning, it appears that Luke is living out of a 42nd Street theater since he was woken up by the projector starting. Whoops. Then we have an interlude where we see Robert Diamond getting trained by Danny, apparently as part of his recovery exercises from being stabbed in the stomach. Because truly, there is no better physical therapy for stomach wounds than martial arts. I mean, I don't doubt that it could be used in that capacity, but it's just like, "Hey! You just got stabbed! Do some high kicks!" Diamond is apparently distracted because of some stuff on his mind, which he explains later to the heroes for hire. Weird things have been happening at the theater lately: people vanishing, props being destroyed after hours...
Linkara: ...angry janitors plotting revenge schemes.
Linkara (v/o): And he'd like to hire them to find out who's responsible. Luke doesn't buy it, thinking it's all a big publicity stunt, but not only does Danny vouch for him, but their secretary reminds Luke that Diamond is a paying customer either way, and money's a little tight right now. And not an incorrect statement, since Luke has to watch his yellow shirt in the theater's break room. They head over to the Broadway theater to begin the investigation, but the investigation soon finds them as laser beams shoot out and almost hit them. Diamond is knocked out from his fall while our heroes realize that the regular pedestrians are also under attack. Iron Fist works on getting them to safety while Luke Cage grabs a car door to use a shield, trying to get to the sniper that they think is launching the attack. However, when he reaches the alley that was the source of the beams, there's nothing there.
Luke: There's no one here! And no sign that anyone ever was here!
Linkara: (as Luke) But this is a New York alleyway! Someone must have urinated in it at some point!
Linkara (v/o): Later, after Luke apologizes to Diamond about not believing his story, we cut over to the apartment of Misty Knight, private investigator and future hero-for-hire herself. She's making out with Danny, but uh-oh, wacky sitcom hijinks abound as Luke Cage arrives home with his date, Harmony Young! He can't make out with her at the theater, so he wants to use this place!
Linkara: Really? Because I'm pretty sure that wasn't uncommon in 42nd Street theaters, dude.
Linkara (v/o): Harmony suggests they all stay and have some fun, deciding to put on a little mood music... which is apparently a record called "Macho Man".
Linkara: (stroking his chin in thought) Hmm... Could be the Village People. Or it could be that album "Macho Man" Randy Savage put out. Either way, I'm not really seeing that as (makes "finger quotes") "mood music".
Linkara (v/o): But before anything else can happen, they got a phone call from Diamond, who's calling for help since something is happening at the theater. Luke and Danny run off.
Danny: We can change our clothes in the cab!
Linkara: It's rare that you read a superhero comic where the hero discusses his need for a taxi. Or that he'll be changing clothes in said taxi. What are they gonna do with their civilian clothes?
Linkara (v/o): At the theater, the place has been torn apart and there's nobody around. However, one thing they do spot is one of the Dredlox.
Danny: Luke, one of those prop robots... it's--!
Linkara: (looking thoughtful) Hmm, that actually sounds like a good song for a comedy band: Robot Christmas.
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, the Dredlox attack, shooting very powerful laser beams that can melt steel.
Linkara: (holds up hand) Okay, I take it back: clearly, these are the most sophisticated special effects used in a Broadway show.
Dredlox robot: Humans, you are surrounded! You must come out! If you do not, you will be incinerated!
Linkara: (as one Dredlox robot) Aren't we going to incinerate them anyway? (as another Dredlox) Shut up, Larry! They're not supposed to know that!
Linkara (v/o): Finding some empty prop robots, the two wheel them out, kneeling behind the props just long enough to get in close to the lead Dredlock.
(A panel is shown of Luke attacking one of the Dredlox with a cry of "Surprise!")
James Doakes (audio from Dexter): Surprise, motherfucker!
Dredlox robot: The human is escaping! Follow him! Incinerate! Incinerate!
Linkara: (as one Dredlox robot (presumably Larry)) Oh, so now we're letting them know that? (as another Dredlox robot) Damn it, Larry! This is why you never get a promotion!
Linkara (v/o): The two make a hasty retreat from the Dredlox, trying to find a place to hide.
Danny: That book shop is open! Let's duck in there!
Linkara: Good, let's put more innocent civilians in danger!
Linkara (v/o): And when the two duck inside, they find... this guy, who offers them some tea. However, they're more confused by how the book store didn't look this spacious from the outside.
Luke: Well, don't go telling me the place is bigger inside than it is out!
Linkara: Yyyyeah... If you haven't figured it out yet, this comic is a crossover... with Doctor Who... sort of.
Linkara (v/o): Dredlox instead of Daleks, and Professor Justin Alphonse Gamble instead of the Doctor. Also, make him dress like Willy Wonka instead of a big scarf. Although, I should note that at the time of this comic, Peter Davison was in the middle of his first year, so I don't know if this was meant as some kind of tribute to the Fourth Doctor or just because the writer, Mary Jo Duffy, wanted a tribute to Doctor Who in a book she was making in general. Hell, she apparently worked on U.S. reprints of "Doctor Who Magazine" back in 1980 since Marvel UK owned the license to it at the time.
Linkara: What's really funny to me, though, is Doctor Who is already technically part of the Marvel Universe. And I don't just mean with the Marvel UK stuff; I mean we've got a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon kind of thing here.
(A montage of shots of a character called Death's Head is shown)
Linkara (v/o): A character named Death's Head was also printed by Marvel UK and encountered the Seventh Doctor. He was even shrunk down to a human size, thanks to the Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator. In fact, Death's Head was dropped off on top of the Baxter Building by the Doctor, where he then encountered the Fantastic Four. And Death's Head in turn has appeared several times in the mainstream Marvel Universe and has had his own book several times. Hell, you want to know the even weirder connections when it comes to Death's Head? The dude was initially created for the UK's Transformers comics, but they loved the character concept so much, they didn't want Hasbro to own the rights to him, so they had him appear in a different book first, so they could own him. So yeah, this guy has connections to Transformers, too.
Linkara: The only way the copyright issues with Death's Head could be any weirder is if he was actually best friends with (gestures toward the shelf behind him with his thumb) ROM.
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, the point is, apparently, there's some other eccentric Time Lord dressed like Willy Wonky fighting Dalek-like beings running around the Marvel Universe. Prof. Gamble explains that he wrote the "Day of the Dredlox" play based on his own life since he needed cash.
Linkara: Okay, I call bullcrap on that part. You're a time traveler! Lotto numbers!
Linkara (v/o): And yes, he does admit to being a time traveler, since the play inadvertently gave the Dredlox a place to hide and they themselves have mastered time travel. Luke Cage spots Diamond and the other people from the theater being carried off by the Dredlox. But what do they want with Diamond?
Prof. Gamble: It's really quite simply-- the Dredlox thinks your friend is me. They have no idea how much I've changed in the last ninety-five years!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who)
Fifth Doctor: You know how it is. You put things off for a day, and next thing you know, it's a hundred years later.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Luke Cage has had enough all this weirdness and just wants to go smash some robots.
Prof. Gamble: Splendid, splendid! I intend to attack them myself, as soon as I finish building my Temporal Polarization Destabilizer.
(Cut to a clip of another episode of Doctor Who, showing the Fifth Doctor looking at a destabilizer)
Fifth Doctor: I read something like it on the Spiridome.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): His device should be able to send them back to their own time period.
Prof. Gamble: That is, I could--if only I could find some way of sneaking into their headquarters!
Luke: Prof, your troubles are over. When it comes to sneakin', Fist, here, is the best there is!
Linkara: Yes, the guy in a big, bright, yellow and green costume is truly the master of stealth.
Linkara (v/o): The two agree to wait for him to finish up his device, and Luke Cage even sits down to have some tea – with his pinkie outstretched and everything. This comic is kind of weird. At the Dredlox base, they of course want Diamond to help them with their time-travel pad, threatening to incinerate the others if he doesn't comply. Outside, the attack is underway, with Iron Fist sneaking up on the guards.
Luke: Fist is a master of somethin' called ninjitsu--the art of invisibility.
Linkara: (as Prof. Gamble) Oh, yes. Aren't there some turtles in New York who know something about that? (as Luke) Look, man, the connections to other franchises are complicated enough in this. Let's not try to make it any worse.
Linkara (v/o): And thanks to his ninja training, Iron Fist uses his... uh, iron fist to smash a hole in the building.
Linkara: The best kind of sneaking is the kind where you just (makes a punching motion) punch a hole in the wall.
(A panel is shown of Iron Fist smashing into the room, while audio from a Kool-Aid commercial, where the Kool-Aid Man bursts in through a wall, is heard)
Kool-Aid Man: OH, YEAH!
Linkara (v/o): And thus, the battle begins, with Luke Cage punching not-Daleks while Iron Fist picks one up and starts swinging it around! What's funny is that...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who, where a similar thing happens to a Dalek there)
Linkara (v/o): ...I'm pretty sure Frankenstein did that once on Doctor Who, too.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Hell, they even strategize during the fight, realizing that the Dredlox need a few seconds to recharge between blasts, so they target the ones that have already fired.
Dredlox robot: You are outnumbered! You are inferior! You cannot hope to defeat us!
Linkara: Ooh, a very bad thing to say to Luke Cage, dudes. (points to camera) I think we need some appropriate fight music for this.
(During the battle, "Macho Man" by the Village People plays briefly)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Prof. Gamble manages to hook up the machine to the Dredlox's time platform, sending them all back to their own time. The two of them thank Gamble for his help, right when Diamond returns with the police. However, not only is everything gone by this point, but Gamble and his TARDIS have vanished, too. And so, our comic ends with Luke telling Diamond that he shouldn't have to explain it.
Luke: After all, it was your publicity stunt... wasn't it?
Linkara: (laughs) That janitor is probably still dead! (closes comic and holds it up) Anyway, this comic is awesomely goofy.
Linkara (v/o): Even if this wasn't connected to Doctor Who, it'd still be a pretty silly and lighthearted adventure. I think the only problem with it then is that Prof. Gamble is the one who ultimately solved everything, and even in a book that's about the two being called in to solve other people's problems, it still feels like they took a backseat to the weird sci-fi stuff. Still, we can forgive that since we have Luke Cage and Iron Fist beating up robots.
Linkara: Next time, it's October, which means three weeks of horror comics. (points to camera) So make sure you all get yourselves a lot of sleep. I know I will. (gets up and leaves to a suspenseful sting)
(End credits roll)
Larry the Dalek: a spin-off of Gary the Cylon.
Join us next time when Power Man and Iron Fist join Professor Gamble to fight off the evil Syvermen.
(Stinger: In Linkara's darkened apartment, a mysterious woman appears. She looks around and speaks into a communicator on her person)
Woman: Seris, you didn't say there'd be a big computer console at the front door. (looks around) I think her information on this place is out of date.
(She takes out a scanner and looks around. It makes beeping sounds)
Woman: I've got a trace. It's faint, but just try to keep their internal sensors jammed as long as possible. (spots a case on the shelf; beeping goes crazy) Okay, it's right here!
(Suddenly, the light turns on, startling the stranger. She spots Linkara (who is holding a sandwich) and Pollo, who are staring at her. She shuts off her scanner, smiling nervously)
Linkara: Uh, have you been helped?
Woman: I, um... I'm just here for the magic coin.
Pollo: Nimue's sensors counteracted the jamming signal very quickly. You're not using very sophisticated equipment.
Woman: Yeah, well, uh... shut up! You know, maybe I'll just take the magic coin– (Pollo aims a gun at her from his body, causing the woman to back away) I think I'll actually be going. Have a great evening.
(She leaves, and Pollo's gun retracts into his body)
Pollo: (to Linkara) That will be twenty bucks.
Linkara: No way! The bet was if no one tried to kill me in a year! She was not here to kill me!