By April of 1978, both Luke Cage AKA Power Man and Iron Fist AKA Danny Rand had solidly established themselves as heroes in the Marvel Universe. At this point, they had each taken on swarms of dangerous and unusual foes, but there was one opponent they couldn’t seem to beat on their own; the dreaded phenomenon of low sales. So Iron Fist and his related characters became part of Power Man’s book with issue #50 and the title was renamed “Power Man & Iron Fist.”
The pairing of these two characters was a success, resulting in one of the Marvel U’s most interesting and enduring friendships. For 75 issues, Cage and Rand served as “Heroes for Hire,” battling all sorts of fantastic and street level menaces in an effort to keep both their clients and the city of New York safe. Since then, Cage and Rand have been featured in several series and recently the duo have become an important part of the cast of “New Avengers.” So the Power Man and Iron Fist partnership lives on.
In August, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Mahmud Asrar take the Power Man and Iron Fist tradition in a new direction with “Shadowland: Power Man,” a four issue miniseries which finds Cage and Rand combing the streets of New York in an attempt to locate a new, teenage Power Man and protect him from the vengeful wrath of Daredevil and the Hand. In January of 2011, Van Lente and artist Wellinton Alves continue the story of Power Man with the five issue miniseries “Power Man & Iron Fist.” CBR News spoke with Van Lente about the project, which was announced today during the Mondo Marvel panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR News: So, Fred, when we talked about the “Shadowland: Power Man” miniseries, you mentioned that you would love a chance to write more stories with the new teen Power Man, and it looks like you got your chance. In this series, you’re updating a classic heroic partnership by having the new Power Man partner with Iron Fist. Is this series simply a continuation of threads from the Shadowland series or is it due to the tradition of Power Man and Iron Fist? Or is there something appealing in this specific character dynamic? Maybe a a case of all three?
Fred Van Lente: All three. If the “Shadowland: Power Man” series was more of a homage to the
original “Luke Cage, Hero For Hire” series through modern eyes, this cleaves more closely to its namesake, specifically the classic years when Mary Jo Duffy was writing and you had Kerry Gammill on art. We want to bring “Power Man & Iron Fist” back as Marvel’s premiere buddy action/comedy series, with new villains and new cases for everyone’s favorite super-powered PI, and a new dynamic as Iron Fist finds himself paired with the new Power Man, headstrong young Vic Alvarez.
It sounds like “Shadowland” will be almost a baptism of fire, where the new Power Man might have to learn some harsh lessons. What can you tell us about his state of mind when this miniseries begins? How have the events of “Shadowland” affected him?
I can’t say too much without giving away the ending of that series, but when the new one begins, Vic finds himself working for Daniel Rand’s Rand Foundation, which, as part of its new mission, is trying to overturn the convictions of wrongly convicted people.
“Power Man & Iron Fist” will be the second time you’ve written Danny Rand. What is it about Iron Fist that makes him a character you want to come back to?
I was sitting next to Matt Fraction at a San Diego panel and he described Danny as a “Kung Fu Billionaire.” Anyone who doesn’t want to write a guy like that needs to check their pulse! I would just go ahead and change the title of the series to “Kung Fu Billionaire” if I could. Because of his wealth and K’un Lun mysticism Danny is a little otherworldly, a little naive, almost, I’d say, and he needs someone like a Luke Cage or a Vic Alvarez to keep him grounded. That’s what makes this pairing so spectacular.
In terms of plot and themes, what is “Power Man & Iron Fist” about?
In their first case together, Danny and Vic find themselves having to clear the name of the old PM&IF ally El Aguila, accused – unjustly, he says – of murder. And this case runs them straight into the insane villainy of Don Pagliacci, the Commedia dell’Muerte, and the mysterious, seductive Noir
So we’ll be seeing primarily new adversaries in this series? Or do you have plans for some familiar faces as well?
We’re going to see a bunch of new villains, plus some familiar faces from the PM & IF series. El Aguila I already mentioned – also we’ll see Black Tiger and Professor Gamble.
The title of the arc is “Men of Mystery,” so that give you some idea of where I’m going with this…
Who are some of the other important supporting players in this miniseries?
Jenny Royce will return, as will Jeryn Hogarth. And just because Luke Cage isn’t in the title doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about him – or Danny’s main flame Misty Knight. Both play significant parts in
this new series.
Vic has his entire supporting cast unique to him; don’t want to give too much away about them, but you’ll get to know them during “Shadowland.”
What about the tone of “Power Man & Iron Fist?” Is it similar to “Shadowland: Power Man” in that it’s a gritty crime book, but it’s not full of angst and despair?
Right. I don’t think a “street” book doesn’t mean it can’t be a “fun” book, and that’s what the original “Power Man & Iron Fist” series proved. We’re going for the same effect.
It seems that with your work on Spider-Man, the “Shadowland: Power Man” miniseries and now this, that you’re having a lot of fun telling street level Marvel U stories. Do you have any more of these tales lined up after “Power Man and Iron Fist?”
I do. I hope readers react well to this one so I can come back and tell ’em.