‘POWER MAN AND IRON FIST’: Bask In Walker, Greene & Loughridge’s Neo-Vintage Cool — HEY, KIDS! COMICS!
By Jarrod Jones. Luke Cage & Danny Rand are one of those legendary comic book superduos so famous that their names alone inspire confidence. In a word, they’re cool. They make Batman & Robin look like nerdy nighttime ninjas. Danny & Luke are so iconic, so everlasting, that it’s 2016 and here I am applauding their newest team book like we all didn’t already sit through their crummy, late-Nineties rehash. They’re a team so well-rounded that you forgive any past transgressions against them. Because Luke & Danny would. So, no. Power Man and Iron Fist isn’t a cynical, All-New revival. It’s a book about two heroes coming home. So enjoy it. But be warned: if “fiddle-faddle” becomes a part of your lexicon, you know who you can blame.
You blame David F. Walker. As the writer of Cyborg and Shaft, Walker is comics’ stoic samurai, a man who can slice through typical superhero pretension and inject more drama, humor, and life into a single panel than others can in an entire run. I’ve already thrown heaps of praise on the writer this month, so I’m not going to pile on the adulation here. (I don’t need the guy dodging me at conventions.) Just know that Walker aces Power Man and Iron Fist just like everyone knew he would. Though it should be said: Bendis, Hickman & Aaron need to scootch to make room, because comics’ newest A-lister has finally arrived, and he’s come to the House of Ideas.
Visually, it’s a stunner of a book. I choose to describe Sanford Greene’s approach to Power Man and Iron Fist as spontaneous, energetic, and fluid, recalling the works of Kazuto Nakazawa during times both calm and chaotic, infused with the urban grime generally found in a Ralph Bakshi film. When Luke and Danny hustle their way through the city streets, you half expect Greene’s sweeping brushstrokes to start vibrating on the page. Look closely enough, and you could swear that the images are actually moving. And when you’re dealing with a book that specializes in action — as our Heroes For Hire decidedly do — movement is key. Greene cinches Power Man and Iron Fist. There’s no other artist out there more suited to this project.
You can also thank Lee Loughridge for a lot of Power Man and Iron Fist‘s visceral pull. The colorist imbues every page of this debut issue with a vintage, sepia hue that wouldn’t look out of place over at Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree. Loughridge gives Greene’s warbly figures a deeper mood for every page — whether the duo is cast in shadow, hungrily digging their knuckles into the palm of their hands, or jamming their elbows into the necks of henchman under the dim lights of a swanky gangster’s den, Loughridge keeps the mood decidedly chill. (There’s a two page spread where Walker & Greene have placed Danny, Luke, and Jennie Royce at a booth inside Excelsior Diner — which, by the way, I hope one day becomes an actual place — and Loughridge casts a light/shadow gradient across the second half of the spread that can only be described as “gorgeous, mild October afternoon coming to an end”.)
How good is Power Man and Iron Fist? Let me put it this way: if Greene, Loughridge, and Walker were looking to recapture the vigor of the early-Seventies, the days when a comic book cost 35 cents, John Shaft walked the mean streets of Harlem, and Popeye Doyle asked grown men if they ever picked their feet in Poughkeepsie, well. Mission accomplished. Buy this book.
Written by David F. Walker.
Art by Sanford Greene.
Colors by Lee Loughridge.
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles.
9 out of 10