Power Man And Iron Fist #13 Review: Prelude To A Turf War

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The gang war between Alex Wilder and Tombstone continues! Can Luke Cage and Iron Fist prepare for the climax?

Power Man And Iron Fist #13

Writer: David Walker

Artist: Elmo Bondoc

Colorist: John Rauch

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Luke Cage and Iron Fist have reunited the “Heroes For Hire,” but their troubles have only increased. The streets of Harlem are more unstable than they ever were. They are indirectly responsible, as the pair were manipulated into a feud against Tombstone. Making Harlem’s boss of bosses look weak opened the door to Alex Wilder to arrive with his “New Pride.” Each side started recruiting urban super villains, with Tombstone willing to commit mass murder to maintain his power.

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After the massive action and explosions of the previous issue, this one is more subtle. All sides seek to recover from the fall out. Cockroach Hamilton becomes the first to flee the New Pride after Tombstone’s last gambit brought on the death of Piranha Jones. His best pal and frequent crime partner Cottonmouth holds a wake for Jones, and the guest list features plenty of street villains. Luke Cage almost causes a stir when he arrives, but he’s there to pay respects and issue warnings.

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Seems Like Enemies and Allies Alike Show for a Wake!

In many ways, this issue showcases how many characters are vulnerable in their own ways. Alex Wilder suffers a crisis of confidence after his previous debacle, not knowing if he can really be top dog. Tombstone is in his weakest underworld position in years, and has to turn to oddballs like Black Talon for aid. Iron Fist may feel the worst of all. His initial “goofy” persona is gone, and what is revealed is a very lonely man who feels guilt for bringing chaos into his best friend’s life.

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Yet the issue also showcases that nobody is an island. Each of the characters have allies to buck them up in different ways. Black Mariah is there to bolster Alex Wilder, encouraging him to focus more on “street magic” like she did. And Luke Cage has a very quiet yet poignant moment with Danny Rand. Without dwelling on it, he acknowledges what’s happened and is committed to the future. At a time when many Marvel alliances have gone bust, these two continue to share a bond.

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David Walker continues to write a fascinating urban drama disguised as a superhero story. He has lots of fun with the Marvel Universe and plenty of their villains. He makes smart use of Black Talon (an old Howard the Duck voodoo wizard), and the wake has plenty of cameos. Hypno Hustler, Slyde, and Big Ben Donovan are just some of the established figures who attend. Walker has made some changes to history, but only in service towards making his story more organic and deep.

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This Run Works Because of Strong Character Interrelationships!

As a result, this is really a story about alliances and forged ties. Tombstone and many of the older villains here were briefly pals, before their own natures divided them. Now they’re rivals, at best, filled with bitterness towards each other, like Black Mariah does for Hamilton. Alex Wilder has stirred up a hornet’s nest trying to live up to his father’s underworld legacy, as well as regain what he lost with the Runaways. Yet even Tombstone reveals some loyalty to his lost ally, Mr. Fish.

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The drama and intermingling of the mobsters is intertwined with the story of Cage and Rand. Cage grew up on the streets and was a part of the culture even before his false arrest and empowerment. Danny Rand grew up alone focused on only becoming a weapon for half his life. Cage is the best friend he has, and often his most reliable connection to the outside world. The pair have their differences but would die for each other, and always have each other’s backs.

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The tension brought on by law enforcement, and the blurring of lines, is also a key angle here. Gamecock seemed to betray Cage and Rand, but only because he was working undercover. Much as Alex Wilder or Tombstone pressure people into doing nasty things, so do the police when they pressure informants. The detectives even pressure Iron Fist and Cage, both of whom have had recent or past tension with the law. The pair exist between them and the crooks, and it shows.

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New Artist, yet Same Heroic Look!

Elmo Bondoc fills in for art from Sanford Greene (along John Rauch’s colors) and does a great job. He matches the visual tone of Greene and other artists on the series while adding his own spice. The end result is a consistent visual world across multiple artists that makes Power Man and Iron Fist distinct from other comics. Despite some of the funky costumes, the world in which these two live feels and looks very real and raw. The denouement between Cage and Rand here is a highlight.

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Next: See how Tombstone brought down the House in #12!

Both Iron Fist and Luke Cage are set to appear in other comics. Danny will once again get his own ongoing, while Walker will write Cage leading The Crew. I hope this is just a branch-out and not a sign of their friendship ending or suffering a rift. So many characters within the Marvel Universe, especially heroes, have seen their relationships dissolve for the sake of drama. A universe where no one is friends is stale. As this series shows, the “Heroes for Hire” are at their best together.