Friday, February 08, 2008

Power Man and Iron Fist #108

Power Man and Iron Fist #108, August 1984, Marvel Comics
writers: Archie Goodwin & Jim Owsley
artists: Greg LeRocque & Andy Mushynsky
letterer: Janice Chiang
colorist: Bob Sharen
editor: Denny O'Neil
EIC: Jim Shooter

Blogger's note: Entry for Thursday, February 7, 2008.

Power Man & Iron Fist #108 was one of the issues I brought to read in the long line outside of my polling place on Super Tuesday, and when I finally reached the door to vote, the check-in guy noticed its cover and commented, "Wow, that's an old comic book!"

I smiled and replied, "Well, old is a relative term. I mean, it was only published in 1984."

"That's twenty-four years ago, man!" he blurted, inadvertently involving other folks in line with our brief conversation. "Sounds pretty old to me!"

I chuckled him off and proceeded to vote, but I couldn't help but ponder our fleeting exchange. First of all, if twenty-four years is old, then I'm really old, what with some twenty-eight years under my belt. Further, though I didn't press the issue with the guy, who was really just being friendly, twenty-four years is not old in comic book terms -- at least, not in my opinion. Based on my understandably limited experience as a collector, issues preceding 1975 seem old to me, mainly because they're harder to come by. Unless one considers himself a "classic comics collector" and frequents specialty shops that stock Golden through Bronze Age titles, one usually won't find issues preceding the '80s in your average back issue bin, with the exception of highly coveted, collectible single issues, and even then these issues are often hung around the store like museum pieces, seemingly unavailable for purchase. I've squatted in front of quarter-issue long boxes aplenty, and while I've discovered gems like Power Man and Iron Fist #108, I've rarely stumbled onto a comic published before Watergate.

In fact, the only shop that stocked such issues in my area was in Whittier, California -- a hobby shop with an assortment of model cars and planes, as well -- and it closed before I could completely reap the benefits of its eclectic assortment. I scored a few Gold Key and Dell titles there, but they really only whetted my appetite for more. But I digress.

In Power Man and Iron Fist #108, a crazy mutant arsonist calling himself Firebolt is trying to cleanse Times Square of its immoral business, and Luke Cage and Daniel Rand step in to protect the legitimate, neighboring shopkeeps afraid for their lives and welfare. Beating the street to track Firebolt down, Power Man bumps into his psychic sister, who explains that her brother's mania comes from their uber-religious, abusive father -- a sympathetic origin that Cage could care less about when Firebolt almost drops Iron Fist to fiery demise. Unfortunately, Firebolt's powers consume him before his sister can redeem him, but Fist is saved in time to reveal that the molten maniac was being manipulated by a greedy real estate tycoon hoping to cash in on some insurance. Skating the edge of religious and sociopolitical themes, this issue is a meaty read that boasts its title characters' comraderee and offers a down to earth superhero adventure.

Although Luke Cage shares this title with the enigmatic Iron Fist, I'm including this issue in my string of Black History Month-oriented reviews because Power Man gets top billing, an impressive feat for any character that uses a chain for belt. I had a variety of Power Man and Iron Fist issues to choose from in that four-for-a-buck long box, but the simple Ron Wilson cover made this issue the pick of the litter, as it taught me that, despite their ethnic distinctiveness, Cage and Rand share an affinity for baring their chests, as their respective costumes seem void of any shirt fasteners above the belly button. Perhaps their outfits (and the 60 cent cover price -- meaning the average comic has risen in price 500% in twenty-four years!) are what led that polling place volunteer to date this issue, and I certainly couldn't blame him for that. Firebolt's zipatone eye lasers are a colorful, campy blast from the apparent past, as well.

Ultimately, the best part of this issue, and perhaps the whole series since Iron Fist jumped aboard Cage's title, is the natural friendship shared between the heroes. Theirs isn't a headliner/sidekick relationship, but each brings equal strengths -- and weaknesses -- to the table. To parallel this comic to the electoral process (don't tell me you didn't see that coming), they're a veritable superhero ticket, like running mates in their battles against evils big and small. If they were running on this "issue" alone, they'd have my vote -- and, based on simple first impressions, they seem to cover the experience pool, too. Yes, in that context, twenty-four years is a long time.

1 comment:

Rick L. Phillips said...

I agree with you. 24 years old isn't old in comic book terms and I am older then you so I guess i am a silver age. My local comic shop till recently had Marvels from the 1970's in their $1 bin. Now they don't. I have politely complained that all of it is new and I don't like the new stuff and the old stuff cost too much to buy. I don't think they will change as this helps get rid of new issues that don't sell well at cover price and they have said I am the only customer who doesn't like it.