Welcome back to the Blogger Dome! Here, bloggers will argue different topics involving the comic book market and industry. This will be a combination of the Big Bang Theory meets the WWE. Smack talk mixed with comic book debates. Bloggers going at each other to amuse and educate our readers. And we want to hear what YOU have to say about it. Today’s topic is Luke Cage – aka Power Man- vs. Danny Rand– aka Iron Fist. So, tune in, get comfy, and let’s do this!
Ding ding! Allow me to present your newest fighters in the Blogger Dome ring… ALAN AND DOUG! Fight!
ALAN: Stalwarts of the Bronze Age of comics, Power Man, and Iron Fist are children of the 1970s. A time when race and culture were more in focus than superpowered aliens or radiated spider bites. It was a time of Kung Fu and stereotype-busting. These were the days of disco and … well… nothing legit went well with disco. But the world was ready for a new type of hero, Luke Cage. Indestructible on the outside and a heart of gold on the inside. Hero for Hire is obviously the better investment and the better character. Shall we get it out of the way early Luke Cage fans? Sweet Christmas! This is an easy battle!
DOUG: Look, Alan, this is going to be very simple. Iron Fist is a far superior hero to “Power Man,” both in terms of value in collecting and as a skilled kung fu strategist, as I will show throughout this blog.
Round #1 First Blood!
Hero for Hire #1 is the most investible comic of the Bronze era. Martial arts was certainly a fun trend of the 1970s, but the Hero for Hire series is culturally significant and reflects an amazing turning point in American history, as I argued in a blog post celebrating Black History Month. Luke Cage is all about a new type of hero, a man of color, a champion of the everyday people living and working in Harlem. Danny Rand is… not.
Iron Fist does have some books drawn by the incomparable John Byrne. Between that and joining the Power Man book, Iron Fist barely survived. But in the pantheon of John Byrne art, when does a collector get around to buying these books? Almost never. GoCollect has tracked the sales of Marvel Premiere #25 in a 9.8 grade, which average about $200 over the past two years, all four issues of them. For all graded Marvel Premiere #25s sold going back years there are a whopping total of 59 graded books sold. We call that the opposite of demand. To be a good investment there should be some demand.
The early Hero for Hire issues are in massive demand. These books are an important part of history and relevant to more than just comic fans. A quality Hero for Hire issue, with its black cover art, which is notoriously difficult to grade high, is something that will stay in demand as long as there is interest in the struggle for racial equality in America. Hey, Doug, a little prediction for you – that’s a long-term investment.
DOUG: SURE, THERE’S HERO FOR HIRE #1 – BUT WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?
I have two names for you – John Byrne and Sabretooth. Mic drop! But seriously, John Byrne was, by far, the most popular artist in comics for a stretch running from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. His early work – and Marvel Premiere #25 and the entire run of Iron Fist Volume 1 represent his first regular work at Marvel – has always fetched top dollar. And Sabretooth! Don’t even get me started on Wolverine’s iconic foe making his first appearance in Iron Fist #14. It doesn’t get much bigger than that!
Yes, I will concede the point of Hero for Hire #1 and its cultural importance. However, not one issue after that is of any real importance for a collector. Some… decent stories. But what does the series have to offer compared to John Byrne and Sabretooth – George Tuska and Cottonmouth? Please. That’s a win for me by a landslide, and doesn’t even get into the value of the first appearances of Colleen Wing – Marvel Premiere #19 – or Misty Knight – Marvel Premiere #21. D.W. Griffith can’t hold a candle to those two!
But to take a more serious look at the value of Iron Fist, comparing Marvel Premiere #25 to Hero for Hire #1 is a little like comparing apples to oranges. While I’m certainly willing to concede that Hero for Hire #1 is a better investment than even Marvel Premiere #15, all one needs to do is look at the CGC census of the issues within each series to see which ones collectors value more. Is it Power Man #25 with a grand total of 38 CGC graded copies? Or is it Iron Fist #14 (the 25th issue if you include the Marvel Premiere run) with a grand whopping total of 5,064 graded copies? You can say, “that’s not fair,” Alan, and whine about that being a first appearance. But you tried to compare Hero for Hire #1 to Marvel Premiere #25, the 11th appearance of Iron Fist. My kung fu is clearly better than yours.
Round #2 Second Swing…
In the long list of things that are better together than apart, Power Man and Iron Fist are not anywhere near the top; might not even be on the list at all. They seem more like an episode of ‘college roommates from hell’ or a horrible remake of the Odd Couple. Sure, the natural tension of opposites can create great storytelling but here it was just odd.
Rich or poor, white or black, martial arts or bone-smashing punches, mask or funny belt of big chain links – what was Stan Lee thinking putting these two together?! Take two characters with no common ground and put them together to see if they complement each other by some crazy accident. Better luck finding another radiated spider or blast of gamma rays. At least they show us people with nothing in common can become friends.
DOUG: Um… Er… Uh…
While there are some fun stories in Power Man and Iron Fist, and the second appearance of Sabretooth in #66, the series really only existed to keep the two characters in publication. With the blaxploitation and kung fu fads of the 1970s having petered out by the end of the decade, Iron Fist was canceled and Power Man likely wasn’t far from being doomed to the same fate. Clearly, Iron Fist and Luke Cage were better apart than together, not just in terms of investment value but also stories and art. So, like Danny Rand himself, I will fight strategically and concede this point to you, Alan, knowing that my kung fu was better than yours in the first round, and I’m sure to crush you with a blazing fist of whoop-ass in the next.
Round #3: Third Strike!
ALAN: Sweet Christmas!
Let’s take a look at who Power Man is in the universe of superheroes – He has superhuman strength and is invulnerable. Basically, Luke Cage is The Thing without the self-esteem issues, he is the Hulk without the anger issues, he is Wonder Man without the sunglasses.
What makes Power Man’s sidekick any sort of superhero at all? – some martial arts and a brief burst of energy to his hand. Wow. I think that is Galactus shaking in his boots over there. It is important to remember that when little Danny Rand uses his power, he gets tired. Totally relatable to us real people, totally lame as a superhero. If Luke and Danny ever got in a fight over something important, assuming Danny even could summon the chi to fire up his iron fist in time, Luke would let him tire himself out and then the end for Danny would come worse than the end of Karate Kid 3 (but be over thankfully much faster). Power Man wins that battle while sipping a chai latte in one hand. So much for Iron Fist’s chi energy.
DOUG: My Kung Fu Is Better Than Yours
Oh, Alan, Alan, Alan. It wouldn’t even be a contest between Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Danny Rand’s ability to summon and focus his chi and concentrate it in anything – but most often his fist – would just be too much for poor Luke. “Power Man’s” supposed invulnerability would be put to its ultimate test against the power of the Iron Fist, and Mr. Cage would be found wanting. On top of which, Danny is a master practitioner of the martial arts, and not just one but many – judo, karate, Shaolin kung fu, muay thai, ninjutsu – the list just goes on and on…
His speed and agility, his strength and stamina, his durability, and even his senses allow Danny to fight at a far higher strategic and tactical level than Luke Cage could ever dream of. It wouldn’t take much for Danny to dominate Luke and his low rent, Hulk smash style of fighting – the only way he comes even close to matching the Hulk, by the way. I imagine it would take two hits – Danny hitting Luke and Luke hitting the floor. And at least Danny would keep his clothes on, for crying out loud.
ALAN: Not Even Close
Doug did the best he could. I think we should give him a trophy. Don’t we all get a trophy these days? Not exactly a battle – one character with the strength to rival earth’s mightiest heroes and stories with cultural significance to keep readers, watchers, and investors tuned in for years to come; the other character, a rich kid with martial arts skills and a decent couple of punches. I do think we can at least give Doug the Power Man belt of oversized chain links, that would make a hell of a participation trophy.
DOUG: The Winner and Still Champion…
That’s not the way I see things at all, Alan. My count is two rounds to one – Iron Fist is a superior investment and the better fighter. You can argue all you want but I think the readers will agree with me. While not a win by knockout, I’ll take the decision and the championship belt. Heck, with Luke unconscious, Danny will just grab that stupid chain-link belt for himself and give it to me to wear around strutting my stuff while I sing, “I am the champion.”
ALAN & DOUG:
Now that this latest round of Blogger Dome is in the books, we both agree that Luke Cage and Iron Fist are two heroes who, despite their origins cashing in on trends current in the 1970s, have stood the test of time. Their key issues continue to rise in value and they remain prominent characters in the Marvel Universe.
Thank you for joining us for our latest Blogger Dome! Who won? Do you have ideas for future battle topics? Let us know in the comments and vote for the winner HERE!