POWER MAN & IRON FIST #8
Writer: David Walker
Artists: Sanford Greene & Flaviano
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 9/21/16
Luke has been trying to get Danny out of jail (legally!), but Danny doesn’t want to leave unless everyone who isn’t supposed to be there can. So while Power Man working on resolving that problem, the clairvoyant Inhuman Ulysses has just had a vision of a jail outbreak. How will the Heores For Hire handle this from opposite sides of the iron bars? And considering that everyone is counting on him, does Luke actually have a plan to fix this mess?
Plot: While Danny is learning what he can from the inmates at Ryker’s, Luke employs the help of Gadget to unlock the secrets of the Agnitus program for preemptive “justice.” It’s clear that this device is being abused to give innocent people criminal records, but the architect and purpose remain unknown. Thankfully, he also has a little magical assistance from Señor Mágico and from a number of reformed criminals who are tired of having their past held against them. The problem is that some of his former friends seem willing to overlook Luke’s past a hero in favor of a future where he might be a criminal.
Story: While Power Man & Iron Fist has never had an problem talking about race, it’s much more rare and interesting to see them directly acknowledge and attack white privilege. Danny is a hero, but Luke rightly points out that he can’t understand what black Americans and other people of color go through due to his position in society. It’s not a big part of the story, and Danny quickly redirects the conversation to the innocent people being locked up, but I still appreciate David Walker bringing it up in the first place through Luke.
Another thing I appreciated in this issue was the callbacks to both Danny and Luke’s origin stories. As much as their upcoming Netflix series (and Luke Cage’s previous appearance in Jessica Jones) have made them something close to household names, there are still plenty of new comic book reader who are fuzzy on the details. We’ve gotten to know who the protagonists are now since the start of this run, but very little information about their past has come up until this week. Seeing their respective beginning helps put the current situation even more into perspective, and certainly provides for a couple of poignant moments early on in the issue. But it’s not just Luke and Danny who inspire emotions this week.
In a very short time, I’ve grown quite fond of supporting characters such as Marta Cardona and Señor Mágico. This issue, and the ones before it, have done a great job of letting their stories play out and affect the protagonists without ever taking over. Luke attempting to get to the bottom of Preemptive Strike’s actions and Danny banding together with the inmates are both much richer stories due to the empathy we feel for the other characters. Keith Augustin’s story is particularly powerful and frightening, because it’s so close to the cases of police brutality that we are hearing about on the news every day.
The tie-in to Civil War II is pretty direct, and it seems to perfectly encapsulate how I feel about predictive justice. As soon as Luke admits that he wants to break Danny out of jail, a certain group of characters have already considered it a reality. But any reader who has gotten to know Luke pretty well probably agrees that he’d get talked down or decide against it on his own. Ulysses might be able to see a future, but who is to say that is the only possible outcome – or that incarceration based on intent is the only way to prevent a crime?
Art: I’m a big fan of the art in Power Man & Iron Fist, especially the way the colors and shading shift between locations and time period in this issue. You don’t even need the headers to distinguish one place from the next, because they each paint their own specific canvas. It also interesting that the scenes set in jail tend to be brighter than the ones of Luke working on releasing Danny. Perhaps it’s meant to suggest how Luke is in the dark, lacking both the crucial information and the hope that helps Danny thrive even in prison. Regardless, Sanford Greene and Flaviano make an excellent team. The yellow and blue palette compliments the panels very well, and the thick lines help the heavier material feel right at home in the usually lighthearted comic series.
As always, Clayton Cowles is a master at imbuing the lettering with personality. The look of the series is very distinctive in the best way, combining a realistic foundation with some humorous flourishes that keep the pages visually interesting in addition to emotionally captivating. The fact that the style can vary wildly from one part of the same issue to another while still feeling like it belongs in a Power Man & Iron Fist comic is a testament to the talents of the artists.
No spoilers, but there’s a build to an excellent splash page near the end that really makes the whole comic come together. Everything about the Preemptive Strike story line has been building to that moment, and it’s easy to see how effortlessly the art and story work together to create a world that exists entirely on its own while still fitting perfectly into the greater Marvel universe.
Verdict: Power Man & Iron Fist #8 is a tense and emotional issue that seamlessly combines the very real epidemic of police brutality and an unjust justice system with the fictional struggle of Predictive Justice.