Ever since Daredevil first appeared on Netflix, the ground-level heroes of the Marvel Universe have been getting a lot more attention, both from the public and in the comics themselves. Yet, while Daredevil has had his fair share of series and guest appearances, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have been generally neglected, at least until now. Trying to pull readers in with a bit of nostalgia, Power Man and Iron Fist tries to focus on the dynamic of our two main characters, but ultimately doesn’t know how to present the information well to either new or returning readers.
The story focuses on the pair meeting with their old secretary, Jennie, who has been in jail for the last five years due to a false murder accusation. Having done her time, Jennie asks her old employers to help her obtain a particular item for her from an old enemy.
While those are the overall events that are taking place here, the writing is clearly more concerned with showing how Luke and Danny work together. Much of this, unfortunately, is presented poorly with flashbacks and painfully unnatural exposition. It’s clear that writer David Walker wanted to be inclusive of all potential audiences when penning this story, but he does it in such a lackluster way that relies a little too heavily on knowing the team’s background, almost requiring the exposition to be there.
Additionally, the dialogue just isn’t very good. Sure, Luke Cage is written pretty well, coming off as a subtle but respectable tough guy who’s been knocked around once or twice. The way he converses with the villain is interesting, showing his street smarts and how he likes to handle situations now as opposed to back then. Danny, however, is perhaps what ruins this book for me. Walker chose to have him read as very annoying, which is all fine and well, considering that Iron Fist has always come across as a bit of a goofy character. But in doing this, Danny’s dialogue devolves into frustrating repetition of the same words over and over again, to the point where it’s just a chore to read. There’s one page where just about every line Danny says involves the word “help,” giving me a heavy case of deja vu as I moved forward.
This ties into another gripe I had; repeating themes through dialogue rather than showing them. Friendship, family, and helping are all points that Walker is trying to convey during this tale, but rather than just show us it, he uses these words too frequently throughout the work, making it feel rather forced. In fact, everything here feels a bit forced when it comes down to it. There’s a comedic bit where Luke talks about how he’s changed his speech patterns around his baby, which at first is amusing, but then the joke is dragged out a bit too long, to the point of being overly forced for no clear reason. It’s frustrating when I laugh at something on one page only to have that exhilaration taken away when I realize that the joke isn’t over yet, and the punch line is much less funny than I thought it was.
On top of all this, one of the key points of the story is that Luke doesn’t want to become Danny’s partner again, saying that this is a one-time thing that won’t become a long-term situation on multiple occasions. This is a huge pet-peeve of mine, as readers already know the outcome here. It’s fine to show Luke’s reluctance to make this an on-going thing, but making it one of the key plot points that’s so heavily focused on is such a waste. It would have been better to use the space to develop the characters and situations better rather than creating a point of tension that doesn’t have any tension anyway.
What drew me most to this series in particular is the artwork, penciled by Sanford Greene. The style is very expressive, almost anime-esque in that respect, with the characters having some fun definition in their faces and body structures. Luke is very jagged with a pointy chin and bone structure, whereas Iron Fist comes off as more lithe and fluid, very fitting descriptions for the pair. The world is bright and colorful, making me want to squint closer and look at the fun details. That being said, sometimes the art gets away from itself, with faces appearing very obtuse in some panels. Eyes can become a bit too large and awkward, and Luke’s arms occasionally looked more like balloon animals. These instances aren’t too frequent, but they definitely pulled me out of the experience a few times.
All in all, I’d say that unless you’re a die-hard fan of either of these characters, this book is a solid pass. The characters are poorly written, the dialogue is weak and muddled, the story progression is painfully predictable, and the art, while good, runs into a few roadblocks. And frankly, art alone can’t make a comic good; the narrative needs to deliver as much of a punch as the images on the page. Unfortunately, Luke’s and Danny’s story isn’t nearly as strong as their fists.