Welcome to the four hundred and thirtieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and twenty-nine. This week, the whole column is devoted to legends about the final issue of Power Man/Iron Fist and the “death” of Iron Fist in that issue.
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
Recently, I did a column about how John Byrne eventually retconned the death of Iron Fist in the last issue of Power Man and Iron Fist in the pages of Byrne’s run on Namor. So many folks wanted to discuss various legends about the “death” of Iron Fist in Power Man and Iron Fist #125 that I figured it best to just do a whole edition devoted to the issue.
COMIC LEGEND: Christopher Priest (then Jim Owsley) was ordered to have Iron Fist killed due to his editor’s anger over the cancelation of the title.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
As noted in the linked piece above, the death of Iron Fist in the final issue of Power Man and Iron Fist (which was written by Jim Owsley and penciled by M.D. “Doc” Bright) was a total shocker. Iron Fist had just seemingly succeeded (with help from the Avengers and Mister Fantastic) to keep a super-powered child (who turned into an adult “Captain Hero”) from dying.
Everyone left and Power Man and Iron Fist both went to sleep…
The boy, though, suddenly woke up in extreme pain and, in his Captain Hero form, beat Iron Fist to death and then died, turning into energy, leaving only Luke Cage as a suspect in Iron Fist’s murder…
So that was the status quo for a few years, Luke Cage on the run, falsely accused of the murder of his best friend.
It’s a pretty downbeat ending to a series, right? Well, as it turns out, that was exactly how editor Denny O’Neil wanted it.
Christopher Priest (who wrote the series at the time under the name Jim Owsley) discussed the situation on his website a number of years back:
The expedient thing to say is, Iron Fist’s death wasn’t my idea. It was my idea in the sense of that is how I chose for him to die— brutally and senselessly. I was ordered to kill IF because the editor was deeply resentful of Marvel’s decision to cancel the book, a book the editor (comics legend Denny O’Neil) invested himself in and worked _very_ hard with myself and artist MD “Doc” Bright. We were all pretty upset, but Denny was outraged. POWER MAN & IRON FIST was a critical success and was selling in excess of 100,000 copies; not a major hit in those days but the book was certainly profitable. Then the company, for no apparent reason, decided to change the publishing schedule from a monthly release to bi-monthly, which automatically depresses sales, and, once the sales projections skewed downward, that became justification enough to cancel the book to make room on the schedule for a new line of books that became the infamous and notorious “New Universe.”
Angered by the slight to our work on the book, in an editorial meeting Denny’s assistant suggested we kill Iron Fist and cast the blame on Power Man. Doc and I really did not like the idea, but the editors were adamant, insisting if we didn’t write the story he’d assign it out to someone else. I agreed to write the story on the condition that IF’s death be senseless and, actually, extant to the story itself. The story and plotlines had resolved themselves by the time Iron Fist fell asleep in the hospital and was subsequently killed. It was shocking and unexpected and completely meaningless— which is how we all felt the company had treated us.
Oddly enough, when O’Neil left Marvel soon afterwards he went to DC to become an editor there. O’Neil was in charge of Action Comics Weekly a few years later when he then hired Owsley (who had by then also left Marvel) to write the Green Lantern feature and once again, in the very first issue, O’Neil had Owsley kill off the retired Green Lantern Katma Tui…
Owsley got quite a reputation there for a while based just on stuff that O’Neil had him write!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Did the Cure Put a Disclaimer Sticker on a Compilation Album to Make Sure People Wouldn’t Misinterpret One of the Songs on the Album?
On the next page, learn which writer was going to bring Iron Fist back in the pages of the Avengers!
COMIC LEGEND: Before he was fired from the title, Roger Stern was planning on Power Man joining the Avengers and Iron Fist brought back to life.
Power Man was given as a fake-out option to be a new member of the Avengers soon before Roger Stern took over the Avengers…
But as it turns out, before he was fired from the title, Roger Stern had plans to ACTUALLY bring Power Man on to the Avengers (over a decade before Brian Michael Bendis finally DID add him to the team). In the story, Stern would also naturally address Power Man’s fugitive status.
Stern’s plan was that the mysterious cop character Tyrone King would turn out to be long running Power Man and Iron Fist foe Master Khan and that everything after Luke Cage fell asleep would be a mirage created by Khan. This was partially to also explain why District Attorney Tower, normally a cool guy, seemed like such a jerk in the pages I showed above. That was all part of the scam by Master Khan. Stern mentioned in an interview a couple of years ago that he had been given tentative approval for the storyline soon before he was fired from the Avengers.
Years later, when John Byrne retconned Iron Fist’s death, he used a few of Stern’s ideas (freely given to Byrne by Stern), including the whole “Tyrone King was Master Khan” plot.
But what about the ORIGINAL plans for Tyrone King? Read on to the next page to find out!
First, how about some classic Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed involving Roger Stern?
Did Roger Stern not tell anyone who the Hobgoblin really was before he left Amazing Spider-Man?
COMIC LEGEND: Tyrone King was originally meant to be a vampire.
As you can see from the last issue of Power Man and Iron Fist…
There was definitely something out of the ordinary about rogue cop Tyrone King.
Including the fact that, in his very first appearance in Power Man and Iron Fist #117, he casts no reflection!
Reader David quite logically wrote in to say “Tyrone King was secretly a vampire.”
However, as it turns out, that was just what you were SUPPOSED to think!
Priest continued on his site to discuss it:
Tyrone King. King, who seemed impervious to harm, favored the night, cast no reflection and had no shadow, was not a vampire. Doc wanted to make everyone think King was a vampire, but he wasn’t. 13 years later, I don’t remember who King was, but he wasn’t Master Khan, Iron Fist’s nemesis, as revealed in the pages of NAMOR (with my blessing, BTW; John Byrne called and discussed this with me beforehand). Incidentally, we spent many a cheery afternoon whiting out shadows and reflections our eager an headstrong inker put in, arrogantly “fixing” Bright’s obviously shabby work. If Tyrone ever cast a shadow or a reflection, it was because the inker put it in.
So there ya go.
Wow, that’s a whole lot of legends just about one single issue!
Thanks to readers Matt K., Michael, Gareth J., David, Matthew Johnson, Michael Hoskin, S. and V-Rod for their suggestions about these legends. I told you a lot of folks wanted to discuss these legends!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Dolly Parton really a producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both the film AND the TV series)?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!