Brovember Day 12 – Luke Cage and Iron Fist
In terms of comic bromances, there are few (if any) more celebrated than today’s honorees. The 1970s were one hell of a time to be reading comic books, and in the pages of Marvel’s magazines the authors, as they still do today, would look to the cinema for the sort of subject matter readers wanted. So, alongside timeless comics fare like men without fear and merry mutants you could expect to see a book about a kung-fu master or even a blaxploitation series that would somehow make Shaft blush. And maybe… just maybe, you’d get both of those things in one title.
Power Man and Iron Fist
Luke Cage, aka Power Man, was an early 70s addition to Marvel’s cast of characters, and their first African-American character to headline his own comic. Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Cage volunteers himself as a prisoner guinea pig in an attempt to replicate a Super Soldier serum. Imbued with super strength and durability, Cage does what anyone would do and immediately busts the hell out of prison, heading back to New York to sell his services as a Hero for Hire. If you want a good idea of how tough Luke Cage was supposed to have been, just remember that he once invaded Latveria to collect on a debt of $200. And he did it wearing a goddamn tiara.
Meanwhile, Danny Rand was a little less grounded in the real world. He was a rich white kid who’d been raised by a super-secret kung fu society, and by plunging his hand into the heart of a might dragon, had earned the mantle Iron Fist. These two characters were, indeed, very different on the surface. But they had one very important thing in common; They could neither of them support an ongoing title by themselves. So, when Iron Fist’s solo book had been canceled and Power Man’s was rapidly heading down that road Marvel took a chance and discovered that these were two great tastes that tasted great together.
By shoehorning a martial arts character into a gritty (as gritty as comics could be back then, at least) street level action book, Marvel unwittingly created one of their most iconic duos of all. Stan Lee purportedly hated teen sidekicks, and that theory holds up when one looks at the fact that Marvel’s books were almost exclusively solo or team series, so this pair of asskickers were a welcome change. And even into the 80s, their dated and cliched styles brought in enough readers to support the book. In fact, my first exposure to the characters came in the form of a Good Cop/Bad Cop style in-house advertising campaign in the 80s.
Here we have Iron Fist offering the perp a cup of coffee while his loose cannon partner is off filing some paperwork. Mildly threatening, but don’t worry; This guy is on our side!Oh, shit! His partner is back and he’s gonna hit you with a goddamn phone book! He must be pretty rough around the edges, too! Did you see the way they spelled “listen”? I mean, it’s the same way that everyone else pronounces it but whatever… Tell this crazy motherfucker everything you know and then fork over 60 cents for their book.
They had one hell of a dynamic, and as the years went on they remained bros. And though they may have shed the tiaras and disco collars of their youth, they never stopped kicking ass and taking payment. Which I always found sort of odd considering one of them was a millionaire.
In fact, this famous friendship may get some major attention soon since just last week both Iron Fist and Luke Cage were included in the announced Netflix/Marvel mini-series expected in 2015. We’ve discussed the potential of these characters for the small screen in the past on our podcasts, and here’s hoping it’s everything we’d hoped for and so much more.
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