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Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #32

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #32

Larger than life and in living black & white, this issue brings us a Daughters of the Dragon story, with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing hunting a drug dealer through the grim alleys of Hong Kong. It’s languid and wordy in vintage Chris Claremont style, with art from a wet-behind-the-ears Marshall Rogers, when his design skills were still out in front of his drawing ability. There’s plenty of punching and kicking, and some shout-outs to contemporary Iron Fist continuity. It rumbles along like a 70s martial arts movie, and its hard not to hear the wah-wah guitars and güiros as you read.

The tale has a forced bit of cheesecake, as Collen and Misty’s outfits disintegrate while they run a gauntlet of kung fu thugs. I expect this was an attempt to sex things up for a non-code black & white book, but it didn’t age well, and I’d pay a dollar to learn if it originated with Claremont, Rogers, or Marvel editorial. The tale concludes with our ladies knocked out and fished from the ocean, doubtless with some terrible doom in the offing. Maybe we’ll find out next issue. The only black and white I was reading in 1977 was Savage Sword of Conan so I can’t even rely on memory for how this ultimately comes out.

  • Script: Chris Claremont
  • Art: Marshall Rogers

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Days of Future Past

Longbox Graveyard #142

What if everything you knew was wrong? What if one day, you woke up to a nightmare, and knew with a sickening certainty that it was your life that had been the dream?

X-Men #141

Welcome to Super-Blog Team-Up, where a coterie of comic book bloggers all tackle a similar topic on the same day. This time, we’re looking at alternate realities, and for my subject I’ve chosen the “Days of Future Past” story from Uncanny X-Men #141-142.

Super-Blog Team-Up

Aside from 1961’s “Flash Of Two Worlds,” which established the DC multiverse, it is hard to think of a more famous alternate reality comic story than Days of Future Past, which changed the way we look at comics, and the reverberations of which are still being felt today, most recently in the 2014 blockbuster installment of Fox’s X-Men movie franchise.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

But forget 2014. Let’s go back to the future of 1981, before Diamond Previews or movie trailers or spoilers on the internet might ruin the surprise of what the then far-future world of 2013 held in store for Marvel’s most popular super-team. So celebrated is this story — so often referenced, reprinted, reinterpreted, and imitated — that it is nearly impossible to understand the impact that this cold open had on comics readers who had plucked X-Men #141 off the spinner rack at 7-11.

X-Men 141, Claremont & Byrne

What. The. Hell?

Fans following the series might rightly have feared that they’d missed an issue, but scurrying back to re-read #140 would offer no comfort — the last page of that particular story showed the Blob breaking out of jail, with little indication of an impending dystopian future nightmare, aside from a title slug confirming that, yes, the next issue of X-Men was this very “Days of Future Past.”

X-Men #140, Claremont & Byrne

It was the boldest surprise yet from a comic that changed the industry with some of the boldest stories of the 1970s.

Returning from the limbo of being a reprint book with 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1, the X-Men took the comics world by storm. Guided by writer Chris Claremont, and illustrated by Dave Cockrum, the X-Men were a breath of fresh mutant air in the Marvel Universe, honoring the history of what was at the time a relatively obscure, tertiary comics property, while at the same time mapping out a vigorous new mutant universe, full of monsters, aliens, conspiracies, and political intrigue.

I don't own THIS uber-valuable X-Men comic, but I have seventy-odd others from this era

When John Byrne joined the book in issue #108 — in the midst of a superhero space opera that saw the X-Men wrestling with the fate of reality itself — the series kicked into hyperdrive. Though they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, Claremont and Byrne became the Lennon and McCartney of their era, sparking a spectacular creative outburst that brought us the X-Men versus Alpha Flight and the Hellfire Club, some great Magneto stories, an adventure in the Savage Land, and the Death of Jean Grey.

But most memorable of all would be the storyline where everybody dies!

X-Men #142

Claremont and Byrne began their tale in medias res, disorienting their audience with an unexplained time-jump, and gleefully staying several steps ahead of us as they shattered the foundations of Marvel’s carefully-cultivated continuity. Colossus and Kitty Pryde were married? Wolverine was a wanted criminal? Cyclops, Nightcrawler, the Fantastic Four, and more were dead? This was a Marvel world turned upside-down, never moreso than with the masterful reveal that the ragtag band of rebels resisting the rule of the mutant-hunting Sentinels were lead by the X-Men’s arch-enemy, Magneto!

X-Men #141, Claremont & Byrne

Re-reading this story after so many years, there are several things that leap to mind.

Most notably, this was a simple story … or at least as simple as a time-hopping, alternate timeline, end-of-the-world story can be! The premise was established with a few deft strokes: in a grim future ruled by homicidal robots, the world’s last superheroes travel into the past (and our present) to prevent their world from coming to be. You’d expect a lot of narrative and world-building, but pretty much the entire second part of the tale was conventional fisticuffs between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who were bent on carrying out an assassination that would ultimately lead to an apocalypse. That’s a lot of heavy lifting to do in just an issue or two, and if it all happened a bit fast, requiring some info-dump dialogue …

X-Men 141, Claremont & Byrne

… and if recapping the premise required still a bit more expository musing on behalf of Professor Xavier …

X-Men 142, Claremont & Byrne

… well, those things weren’t too far afield from Chris Claremont’s usual approach, which heeded the directive of Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief, Jim Shooter, who required that every script take into consideration that it might be the very first comic someone might read.

It’s frankly not a bad way to write comics, and if it is a little on-the-nose, this style also has the virtue of brevity. Days of Future Past was a two-issue story, folks! The Bronze Age had some real advantages, I tell you! Were Marvel to tell this tale today, it would be a twelve-issue maxi-series embedded in a sprawling, endless, line-wide crossover event.

But that particular dark future had not yet come to be in 1981 (and pardon me for a moment while I consider my own Days of Future Past, where Longbox Graveyard travels back to 1984 to head off Secret Wars and Crisis On Infinite Earths, before they can unleash an endless series of cumbersome editorial events and reboots on comics fans forevermore). It was a dark future indeed, playing for higher stakes than the usual Marvel monthly — they weren’t kidding when they said that everybody dies …

X-Men 142, Claremont & Byrne

Now, sure, these deaths “didn’t count” … we knew they’d be overturned, somehow. And our heroes do ultimately triumph, averting the end of the world (the implications of which were dispatched with the speed that characterized the rest of this story) …

X-Men 142, Claremont & Byrne

… but the fact is, those deaths really did occur. Our heroes died, in the future — just because that future was erased didn’t make the deaths less wrenching. Because no one really stays dead in comics, the most we can ask of a comic-book death is that it be respectful and emotionally-centered, and Claremont and Byrne give us that in spades, with off-panel deaths that feel more impactful because we are mostly left to imagine how they happened. Chris Claremont was a master of comic book characterization, and watching him kill off such vividly-rendered personalities hit to the gut.

X-Men 141, Claremont & Byrne

There’s plenty more to unpack here, too, like the pervasive presence of the Fantastic Four (which may have reflected John Byrne’s preoccupation — his celebrated writer/artist run on Fantastic Four was in the offing), and the brief hero turn by Magneto, telegraphing an era-to-come in X-Men where villains weren’t villains so much as fallen heroes.

Forty years later, this tale is still worth reading, both for its own sake and because it marked the end of an era. The time was fast approaching when you couldn’t tell who was on the X-Men without a scorecard …

(And here is that scorecard!)

I certainly never cared for X-Men quite so much after the Claremont & Byrne team called it quits, which would happen just two issues later, so I missed much of what came after. Ultimately I think I prefer looking forward to my own future of days past — say the 70s and 80s — where the X-Men all lived in one series, and Claremont and Byrne made everything old seem new again!

And on that alternate-timeline note, let me remind you that the Super-Blog Team-Up crew is today looking at alternate timelines and pocket universes from all around the comic book multiverse. Check ’em out, and tell them Longbox Graveyard sent you!

NEXT WEEK: #142 Kamandi!

Star-Lord: Windhoelme!

Longbox Graveyard #134

Welcome to the Dollar Box, where I look at classic comics with an original cover price of a dollar or less!

This month, my subject is the historic first teaming of the classic comics team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin, and Tom Orzechowski.

Am I writing about Uncanny X-Men? Or maybe an issue of Iron Fist?

Nope!

The very first time this team worked together on the same book was … Star-Lord?

Marvel Preview #11

Published in 1977 in the pages of Marvel Preview #11, Marvel’s black-and-white anthology magazine, “Windhoelme” was the second outing for Star-Lord, a science fiction adventure character who debuted in issue #4 of that same mag. The original Star-Lord, by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, was an ill-tempered, borderline-psychopath who stole his superpowers as part of his quest to avenge his mother’s death at the hands of space aliens.

This Star-Lord … was something different.

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

 

It was characteristic that Star-Lord’s second outing was a “reboot” — additional reboots would follow, seemingly every-other issue in the character’s brief career, culminating in a near-total rewrite that saw Star-Lord enter the Marvel Universe in the pages of Thanos #8-12 — and now, as the leader of the Guardians of the GalaxyStar Lord is fast-tracked for pop culture stardom in next month’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

the Star Lord you probably know

the Star Lord you probably know

I like the new Star Lord, but he really has little to do with this Star-Lord, who headlined this little jewel of a science fiction adventure in Marvel Preview #11. What with all the space empires, swashbuckling sword-fights, and humanoid aliens running around this story, you could be forgiven for thinking Star-Lord was a fast-follower of Star Wars … but Marvel Preview #11 was conceived and created months before Star Wars hit the theaters. The similarity is down to common origins, with the Robert A. Heinlein “juveniles” that Claremont cited as his inspiration providing a rich portion of the pulp science fiction tradition that Lucas drew upon for Star Wars.

It’s also kismet, of the negative sort, in that Star-Lord was just … that … much ahead of its time. If release of this issue had been able to take better advantage of Star Wars mania, maybe Star-Lord would have gone on to become a superstar comic book character. As it was, Star-Lord came and went, and while the character would have additional outings under various creative teams prior to fading into obscurity for a decade or two, he would never be better than in this rollicking, two-fisted space opera.

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

Displaying the fast-paced, catch-you-up-while-we’re-on-the-run storytelling that would characterize his X-Men work, Claremont drops us in the deep end of his story, with a peaceful planet conquered by slavers, and a pair of young adventurers eager to fight back. Kip and Sandy are fairly stock supporting characters, but they’re not without spirit, and Sandy is sort of hot, in that square-jawed, big-eyed John Byrne kind of way …

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

With the population of a planet hanging in the balance, we’re introduced to Star-Lord, who makes a confident and understated entrance (despite the characteristic internal self-doubt Claremont’s script would display later in the issue). It’s never really made clear who our hero is, or where he came from, but that’s actually a strength of this story. It’s more entertaining to try to piece together the details of our hero’s powers and origin as we go along (and besides, it was all on display in the character’s inaugural appearance in Marvel Preview #4 for those who simply had to know).

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

In the pages that follow, we learn that Star-Lord can breathe in outer space, that he can handle himself in a fight, and that he takes a dim view of slavers. But freeing Kip, Sarah, and everyone else on the slave ship is just the start of our adventure.

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

In short order we are winging across the galaxy with our little crew, exactly in the fast-paced manner that we’d learn to love when Han Solo settled behind the controls of his Millennium Falcon.

Star-Lord’s spaceship isn’t quite so cool as Han’s legendary ride, but “Ship” has secrets of her own. For one thing, she can change shape. For another, she’s sentient … and she may also be in love with our hero. Certainly Star-Lord and “Ship” have a long and unexplained history between them — just another of a score of intriguing story hooks Claremont drops into this story.

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

So far we’ve checked off most of the compulsory boxes for a good space opera. A virtuous hero, young people in distress, spaceships and starfaring adventure, enigmas and mysteries at every turn.

But there are also hissable bad guys, who torment our innocent supporting characters …

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

… cruel lizardmen who get exactly what they deserve …

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

… and in the finest sword-and-planet tradition, our hero locks steel with a corrupt galactic nobleman to determine the fate of a stellar empire. Looking back on this sequence from a post-Star Wars perspective, it’s impossible not to hear lightsabers humming and crackling.

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

“Windhoelme” is a brilliant bit of comic book space pulp, fast-paced, imaginative, heartfelt, and fun. It (re)introduces a great science fiction hero in Star-Lord and follows him on an arc that sees him liberate the throne of a far-flung star empire, and then toss it all aside for a life of adventure roaming the stars …

Star-Lord by Byrne, Austin, and Claremont, Marvel Preview #11

It’s a great set-up for a continuing series of adventures, but Star-Lord’s mojo would quickly fade. Byrne and Austin never drew the character again, and Chris Claremont’s following outings with Star-Lord never quite reclaimed this story’s magic. After a host of lesser appearancesStar-Lord would diminish from memory, leaving only the bright star of Marvel Preview #11 behind.

Original copies of Marvel Preview #11 aren’t all that easy to find, but if you want to read this superior comic story, here’s a Dollar Box pro tip. If you’ll allow me to exceed my brief by recommending a book with an original cover price of more than a dollar (gasp!), then I’ve got just the thing for you …

Star-Lord Special Edition

 

Star-Lord The Special Edition #1 (the one and only issue in the line) reprinted Marvel Preview #11 in 1982. This is a standard-sized comic book, and the tale is slightly altered here (with a new introduction and a postscript by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden), but the meat of the tale is as Claremont, Byrne, and Austin created it in 1977 … with the added bonus of color! Purists will want the original tale, but I’ve grown fond of the colorized version as well, and it also has the advantage of being readily and cheaply available on the back-issue market.

Star-Lord in living color!

Star-Lord in color!

But whether you experience this tale in color or glorious black & white, “Windhoelme” from Marvel Preview #11 is well worth tracking down. It is a relentlessly entertaining space opera comic that is presently lost to the mists of time, but may shortly loom large in our pop culture, pending Star-Lord’s big screen debut in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I strongly suggest you score your copy of this best of the early Star-Lord adventures before the Imperial scum start jacking up the prices on eBay!

This article was originally published at Stash My Comics.

NEXT MONTH: #135 All This And World War Too!

 

Iron Fist

Longbox Graveyard #121

I’ve already blogged about my affection for Bruce Lee, and how Marvel jumped on the martial arts craze of the early 1970s with books like Master of Kung Fu. While Shang-Chi was unquestionably Marvel’s most successful and longest-running martial arts character, there is a second hero from that era that remains at least somewhat well-known today. Less ambitious than Master of Kung Fu, with more emphasis on action and traditional comic book superheroics, Iron Fist was Marvel’s “other” kung fu book of the era, and despite its relatively short run the series offered several superior issues, and the character of Iron Fist (in various guises) has persisted into the present era — and come 2015, he’ll even be a television star! The book was also notable for the first Marvel Comics work of John Byrne, who would partner with Chris Claremont on the book before the two went on to make history together with X-Men (by way of Star Lord!)

Marvel Premiere #17, Gil Kane

Iron Fist debuted in the pages of 1974’s Marvel Premiere #15, an origin tale from Roy Thomas and Gil Kane that is a a mixed cocktail of borrowed tropes (with a savage chaser). We first meet Danny Rand — the future Iron Fist — as a child, trudging through Himalayan snows with his mother, his father, and his father’s evil business partner, looking for the fabled city of K’un Lun, a kind of Shangri-La that opens to the outside world only once per decade. In short order, Danny’s father is kicked off a cliff by his partner (evil, remember?), cartwheeling and ragdolling off the rocks while young Danny looks on … and then if that wasn’t enough, after Danny and his mother are abandoned to die, Danny gets to watch his mom torn apart by starving wolves before he is rescued by the warrior monks of K’un Lun.

Marvel Premiere #15, Gil Kane and Roy Thomas

It’s enough to make you yearn for a benign origin, like watching your parents gunned down in a Gotham City alley, but this trauma is put to good use, as Danny is adopted into the mystical city of K’un Lun, and montages into a vengeance-fueled martial arts master, eventually wrestling a dragon to the ground to steal the power of its heart, and refusing the gift of immortality to leave the city on a mission of vengeance when the gates reopen a decade later.

The book had a carousel of creative teams, as was often the case with 1970s Marvel series. Roy Thomas and Gil Kane were aboard only for the first issue (though Kane would do several striking covers for the series), and caretaker writer Len Wein quickly yielded to Master of Kung Fu scribe Doug Moench, who turned in a couple action-packed issues with the artistic team of Larry Hama and Dick Giordano that saw Iron Fist fight his way to the top of a skyscraper deathtrap, seeking revenge for his father’s death.

Marvel Premiere #18, Doug Moench and Larry Hama

After Moench, Tony Isabella more-or-less held serve for several issues (most notable for introducing Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, who would loom large as this series matured), but the art took a substantial step backwards under Arvell Jones, and Iron Fist might have been bound for untimely cancellation …

Iron Fist #3, Chris Claremont and John Byrne

… were it not for the arrival of Chris Claremont in Marvel Premiere #23, and, two issues later, the debut of John Byrne, marking the beginning of one of the great teams in comics history, and a definite upswing in Iron Fist’s fortunes. It takes a couple issues for Byrne to really get his mojo going (and the shift to Frank Chiarmonte’s inks from Al McWilliams didn’t hurt, though Byrne would fully arrive under Dan Adkins’ brush), but Claremont hits this series like a Double Leopard Paw Blow from the get-go, deepening the book’s characterization by giving Danny a personality (somehow overlooked to this point), and expanding and enhancing the strip’s supporting cast.

Iron Fist #7, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

Most startling is the transformation of Colleen Wing, going from an extra in a kung fu movie to a Third Dan Black Belt who can (almost) hold her own sparring with Iron Fist, and definitely scores a knockout lecturing Danny on the strengths of the “weaker” sex. By the time Danny invades the fortress of Jera’ad Al-Din in Iron Fist #6, springing Collen from captivity, it is unclear who is rescuing who.

Iron Fist #7, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

Claremont was known for writing strong female characters in Ms. Marvel and X-Men, and he is no different here, both with Wing and her erstwhile parter, Misty Knight, who cuts a forceful and foxy figure, providing instant direction for Danny’s aimless heroics, and rocking a groovy “MK” belt buckle with a quasi-superhero outfit that shows the creative team didn’t know quite what do do with her.

Misty Knight

But that would change, as Misty Knight quickly evolved into one of the strongest “supporting actresses” in the Marvel line, both figuratively and literally. With her mysterious bionic arm, Misty is outwardly powerful but secretly traumatized by the loss of her limb.

Misty Knight, bionic woman

With Colleen offstage, Misty proves Danny’s adventurous equal, and even tells our hero to get stuffed, walking out on him as Claremont plants the seeds for their eventual romance. In this transformation of stock characters — Misty, Colleen, even Danny — into compelling and multi-dimensional heroes, Claremont proves himself one of the most talented scribes of his era.

Claremont also gives Danny a zest for life (even a bit of a sense of humor), and promises future possibilities (never realized in this run) when he makes Danny the heir to his father’s fortune. Even K’un Lun gets a makeover, transformed from a generic lost paradise into a nest of intrigue, greed, and envy, where Danny was an orphan and an outsider, resented by the other students for his gifts and presumed arrogance in seeking the Heart of the Dragon.

Iron Fist #8, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

some joyful Iron Fist action, with the book’s creative team getting a cameo as the innocent bystanders

It is a heady transformation — in just a handful of issues, Claremont and Byrne pivot Iron Fist from another short-lived Marvel exploitation book and build a franchise. Unfortunately, the book never got traction with readers, and I remember its cancellation as one of cruelest I suffered as a young comics reader. Marvel would keep the character alive by splicing him into the re-named Power Man And Iron Fist, but first Byrne and then later Claremont would depart for mutant pastures, and the rich promise of Iron Fist would fall to other creators to realize.

It was fun while it lasted. The first several Marvel Premiere stories are uneven but the Claremont books constitute a minor classic, and are available on the back issue market for reasonable prices (aside from the first appearance of Sabertooth in issue #14). Apart from Wolfman and Colan on Tomb of Dracula, and Thomas and Buscema on Conan, few teams stuck together for long at 1970s Marvel, so it was always a matter of when (not if) the A-team Byrne and Claremont would depart the B-list Iron Fist … but there is such skill and joy in this brief run that the book can’t help but seem a path not taken. We know Claremont and Byrne would work mutant magic with X-Men. I would dearly love to have seen where they took Iron Fist.

Iron Fist #7, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

it was played for laughs, but Iron Fist held his own against the X-Men (for awhile)

The book had its idiosyncrasies, particularly as it found its footing, most memorable of which was the second-person narrative captioning style introduced by Roy Thomas in the character’s first appearance, and then adopted by following writers as a kind of holy writ (though it was eventually de-emphasized by Claremont). The style gave the book a distinctive voice, but could prove cumbersome and distracting, and I expect it drove Iron Fist’s writers batty.

Imagine if I wrote Longbox Graveyard in second person!

With trepidation and some self-loathing, you click on Longbox Graveyard. Will there be a new feature today? A new headline stalks into view. But you are cautious, Young Dragon. You have been burned before … by senseless “Panel Galleries” and regurgitated Pinterest links. Your breath quickens as you remember clicking on that “Top Ten Marvel Comics Characters” link every time you saw it on Twitter, forgetting that it was the same damn article every time. Every sense alert, you mouse-wheel down, revealing the garishly-attired green-and-yellow form of Iron Fist. You try to read the article as fast as possible, skipping the text and lingering on the art. A link appears — but does it promise enlightenment, or just a recursive visit to a Longbox Graveyard article of years past? Still your soul, exhale, and click …

Phew!

Let’s clear the palette with another John Byrne action page!

Iron Fist #10, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

There’s also an early over-reliance on providing each of Iron Fist’s attacks with an exotic-sounding name, perhaps as an attempt to spice up lackluster action art. I half suspect early Iron Fist writers were working from one of the innumerable martial arts manuals hawked on pages of early 70s Marvel books. In his many battles over this two-dozen issue run, Iron Fist employs the …

… Monkey Blow, Rock-Smash Blow, Lightning Kick, Cat Stance, Sword Hand, Ram’s Head Blow, Elephant Kick, Dragon Stamp Kick, Blow of the Hammer, Locking Block, Bear Thrust, Double-Circular Block, Upward Sweep, Reverse Smash, Horse Stance, Spinning Whip Kick, Flying Roundhouse, Leaping Deer Block, Cross-Arm Throw, Boulder Block, Swing Throw, Crane Stance, Crescent Kick, Leopard Paw Blow, Reverse Throw, Passive Stance, Double Monkey Blow, Tiger Claw Blow, Scorpion Blow, Ram’s High Kick, Dragon Kick, Thunder Punch, Reverse Shoulder Throw, Heel Palm Thrust, Thunder Kick, Double Sword Hand, Two-Handed Throw, Side Kick, High Line Block, Shoulder Toss, Double Dragon Kick, Inverted Fist Strike, sundry miscellaneous “blows” and “smashes” …

… and a good, old-fashioned right cross, which we’re told Danny remembers from watching television as a child!

Marvel Premiere #15, Gil Kane & Roy Thomas

But what of Danny’s finishing move — his eponymous “Iron Fist” attack? This attack is more rarely seen.

How rare? I’m glad you asked!

  • Marvel Premiere #15: Knocks the head off of robot Shu-Hu.
  • Marvel Premiere #16: Destroys Scythe’s … uh … scythe.
  • Marvel Premiere #17: Punches through an elevator door!
  • Marvel Premiere #20: Haven’t seen it in awhile, so Danny uses it twice — first against Batroc, then against Batroc’s whole “Brigade!”
  • Marvel Premiere #22: Destroys the Ninja’s flaming sword.
  • Marvel Premiere #23: Knocks Warhawk clear through a wall, and into the river.
  • Marvel Premiere #24: Wrecks a car (which, to be fair, Danny thought was a dragon!)
  • Iron Fist #1: Knocks Iron Man on his ass (for a moment).
  • Iron Fist #2: Thumps Sssesthugar The H’ylthri (don’t ask).
  • Iron Fist #3: Breaks open the chest plate of Radion, the Atomic Man, indirectly blowing up London’s General Post Office Tower!
  • Iron Fist #4: Danny heals himself with the power of the Iron Fist, as Chris Claremont expands our hero’s bag of tricks.
  • Iron Fist #5: Clear through a wall after punching at Scimitar (and missing).
  • Iron Fist #6: Used to “mind meld” with Colleen Wing (!)
  • Iron Fist #9: Punched through another wall, and also through Chaka (or a guy wearing his pajamas); also used to heal.
  • Iron Fist #10: Takes out Chaka’s weapon, a curiously-familiar “triple-iron.”
  • Iron Fist #11: Danny jumps up to Asgardian class, getting his butt kicked but also taking out Thunderball and the Wrecker’s weapons.
  • Iron Fist #12: Punches Captain America’s shield (SHKOW!), then gives the coup de grâce to the Wrecker.

Iron Fist #12, Chris Claremont & John Byrne

That’s a pretty impressive dance card for a second-string chop-sockey hero in green-and-yellow pajamas! Iron Fist has proven a surprisingly resilient concept, revisited by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction in 2006’s Immortal Iron Fist (and a new series is on the way), and even as a callow teen hero in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. But this original vintage Iron Fist still packs a kick, even after all these years, and this brief run (especially the Claremont/Byrne era) receives my enthusiastic recommendation.

IN TWO WEEKS: #122 Panel Gallery: It’s Clobberin’ Time!

Windhoelme (Star-Lord!)

Windhoelme (Star-Lord!)

The February installment of my Dollar Box column is now live over at StashMyComics.com.

Marvel Preview #11

This month I continue yesterday’s look at Star-Lord with an in-depth review of the best single issue in his limited, pre-Marvel Universe era — the superior space opera from Marvel Preview #11 by the ace team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin. This comic is historic as it was the very first time those three great talents came together on the same book … and it’s worth reading and remembering in its own right. Check it out!

Thanks to StashMyComics.com for hosting The Dollar Box!

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