REVIEW: Power Man and Iron Fist #13 – “Old School vs. New School”

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Writer: David F. Walker 
Penciler: Elmo Bondoc
Colorist: John Rauch
Inker: John Rauch
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Price: $3.99
Release Date: Feabruary 8, 2016

Plot: Luke and Danny continue to track down Alex and try to put a stop to the budding war in Harlem that is going to get a bunch of people killed over a little bit of territory.

Story: As Power Man and Iron Fist continues to advance, David F. Walker continues to keep things interesting and fresh in a small, confined setting of Harlem. The writer has brought Luke Cage and Danny Rand back to their roots, focused on a lot of smaller scale problems happening within their community, which they can have a direct impact on. The comic continues to be a ton of fun, but has recently started a new arc that is still budding in issue 13. Multiple villains are trying to make power moves to gain more territory in Harlem but all it’s causing is tons of people to die for no reason; so Luke and Danny plan to put a stop to it all.

The issue immediately opens with all of these historic characters tied to Power Man and Iron Fist scrambling to adjust to this violent shakeup in the neighborhood. Now that everyone’s criminal record has been wiped, a lot of the old timers recognize that the amount of effort being put into winning a chunk of turf isn’t worth it. Walker does a really nice job of constructing this legendary setting, filled with history between each of the characters. It’s easy to grasp just how much this power shift is hurting a lot of people, not because they feel threatened or overpowered, but because it’s sad for them to watch the friends they care about all turning against one another, some even dying. Most of these villains respect an old code that exists on the streets, and now all of those rules are being ignored or overlooked by the people that created them, which creates a really interesting dynamic for all of these characters as this street war continues to bloom.

Power Man and Iron Fist #13

The issue even has Luke travel to Piranha’s funeral out of pure respect for the character being someone Luke came up with in Harlem. The story is beginning to mold into a new school vs. old school battle rather than a straight up traditional good vs. evil battle.  The story is showing the growth of a lot of these old school villains; how much they have changed, their ability and want to reform and be regular citizens, and even their willingness to join up with Danny and Luke because they also recognize the negative impact that this turf war is having on the community.

Walker has done a great job of building the story up so far to have a lot of emotional weight and historical weight as well. The characters in this section of Marvel Comics have come so far throughout the years, and it’s interesting to see the main villain, Alex, really shake up the tradition that Harlem is used to as well as the type of larger scale crime he is committing so far.

Power Man and Iron Fist #13

Art: The art in this new chapter of Power Man and Iron Fist has switched to a new team that includes John Rauch and Elmo Bondoc. This new team brings great artwork to the table and really seems to grasp the tone in this issue and where the story is headed. The artwork has a large pencil and sketch feel, which really blends in with how much everything has turned into an investigation. Power Man and Iron Fist has quickly become about who has what information and how to get it; everyone from the police to villains are trying to lock down everything they can in order to stay ahead of Alex and what is coming next. The sketch and almost water color vibe that the book has just keeps things dark in a time where most people seem confused or frustrated.

Power Man and Iron Fist #13

There are a lot of nicely layered scenes that relay the impact of the story visually; here the character just wants to stay alive and not see anyone else from his neighborhood get hurt. It’s easy to see how heavy this type of a conflict is on these smaller scale thugs and gangs. As Power Man and Iron Fist has pointed out, these people want order, and to keep it controlled so that they can hold power without people getting hurt. Everything with Alex is just escalating each day and more people are wanting to avoid the inevitable gang war that is about to get bloody. The emotion of the scene can really be felt through these two artistic panels though, displaying that the character is hanging his head, tired and upset, but then delivering the up close on his face, communicating just how tiresome and impactful this has all been.

It’s beginning to become too much, and the story and art are in a nice place where they can tie together and keep things dark and somber feeling. Rauch and Bondoc seem to have a really nice grasp on the feel for Power Man and Iron Fist, and while they absolutely nail the informational scenes, the action isn’t sold short either, and it is exciting to think about what this pair will do when the events of the story really start blowing up.

Verdict: Power Man and Iron Fist continues to be a great story with a great writer controlling it. Walker knows how to properly build up a good story arc but what elevates this book to the next level is how much effort and detail he puts into the setting and these characters. The book nails the character personalities and really shows why the pair of heroes are interesting to read about.

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