Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Untouchable! (Marvel comics)
Power Man & Iron Fist #90 When: February 1983 Why: Kurt Busiek How: Denys Cowan

The story so far...
For Italian-born Angelo Unuscione, discovering he was born different was a blessing. A genetic mutation of the X-gene gave him the fantastic ability to project an invisible impenetrable forcefield around his body.

Walking through life untouchable, he became Unus, the super-criminal who would go toe-to-toe with the Hulk; take membership with the Brotherhood of Mutants; and butt heads with the Heroes for Hire: Powerman and Iron Fist.

In their first meeting, the cocky Unus lived up to his untouchable reputation.
Having survived both the clubbing blows of the super-strong Luke Cage, and the precision pressure point strikes of Iron Fist, Unus made his getaway. Even so, the confident Italian stays in town, giving the Heroes for Hire a second bite.

Previous Form:
Power Man (#24): Killed in an alternate reality fighting Death's Head II as Charnal.
Iron Fist (#53): In an alternate reality, was killed by the Silver Surfer.
Unus (#121): Initiated into the Wars with a win over this very duo.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Powerman 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Iron Fist 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Iron Fist 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Unus 6 (Generator)
Agility: Iron Fist 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Fist 3 (Explosive)

- Scientific experimentation saw vounteer ex-con, Carl Lucas, undergo unforseen physical alterations when the process was interrupted by the tampering of a vengeful guard Lucas had encountered in prison. His strength and durability enhanced, Lucas decides to turn his life around for the better, becoming the hero-for-hire, Luke Cage: Powerman!

- Cage's strength has been measured at various levels throughout his career. Despite initially exibiting a greater power in the defensive, he has since developed his strength to be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Thing!

- Wealthy entrepreneurial heir, Danny Rand, would inheret more than his father's fortune after he and his mother's death. Taken in by martial artists from the secret city of K'un L'un, Danny Rand would grow to achieve the skills and mastery of Lei Kung, enabling him to achieve the power of the Iron Fist.

- The power of Iron Fist's training gives him the ability to channel his life energy, chi, making his fist an invincible offensive force.

- As the Heroes for Hire, Powerman and Iron Fist would form a lasting friendship, and accumulate years of experience facing the most dastardly threats money can object to. As leading proponents of the anti-registration act, they would become members of the Secret Avengers, where Luke Cage would mature to take a senior role as de facto-leader.

- Unus possesses the inherent mutant ability to project a forcefield which has withstood even the blows of the Hulk! Over time his powers would appear to become unstable, filtering even oxygen from his personal space, but traditionally Unus has been seen to have complete control over his forcefield.

- Unus lost his mutant abilities as a result of the M-Day decimation.
He was later granted a new variation on his abilities by Quicksilver, who had stolen the terrigen mists that mutate the hidden society of Inhumans.

The Math: Power Man & Iron Fist The Pick: Power Man & Iron Fist

What went down...
On the advice of a friend, Power Man and Iron Fist take a post outside a Times Square local movie theatre, hoping to catch a glimpse of Unus' latest robbery feats. The untouchable mutant doesn't look to be striking on this night, and just as Cage wants to call it quits, Fist spots a confident stride in the crowd.

Unus responds to Power Man's call with a sigh of familiar bemusement, offering to take his robbery's across town if he's making the Heroes for Hire look like fools. Cage doesn't take kindly to the taunt, unloading with a futile barrage of double-fists in an effort to bust the untouchable's force field.

Power Man's tireless efforts make the perfect distraction while behind the action, Iron Fist channels his chi to make his fist like unto a thing of iron!

The surprise attack sends Unus flying into the air, force field and all, sending him colliding into a building across the street!

So powerful are strike and defense, that Unus' collision actually brings down that corner of the building! Even so, the Italian mutant is able to rise with ego and force field still intact.

Though acknowledging of the raw power of Iron Fist's attack, Unus surmises that the physical and mental exertion of channeling the fist is probably as trying as it would be for him to take it. His deductions prove correct, and tired of the stalemate, Cage takes a more tactical approach to the situation.

Marching through the rubble, the Power Man sneaks up behind the over-confident Unus, grappling with the invisible field that surrounds him.

Using his brute strength, Luke Cage hoists Unus into the air with the promise to march downtown to drop him in a prison cell, invisible field and all.

Hip to Cage's jive, Unus looks to slip through the cracks in Power Man's plan by dropping his force field for a split second to roll free of his grip, making sure he doesn't get the chance to lift him again.

What Unus doesn't count on is the split-second speed and agility of Iron Fist, who sees the opening coming and springs into action! With Unus tumbling free of Power Man's dubious grip, Iron Fist meets him in mid-air with a flying kick!

The blow instantly renders Unus unconscious, with Iron Fist coming to a graceful squat landing beside him; "You only had to shut down the force field for a second -- but that second was enough."

The Times Square crowd erupt into cheers, the one-man crime wave put to bed.

The hammer...
With the Times Square crowd erupting into cheers, the one-man crimewave is brought to an end by Power Man and Iron Fist! Proving once and for all that crime doesn't pay, but heroing does!

If you've found us by way of a search engine or link, be sure to check out the fight that started it all. We wouldn't have the rematch if there wasn't a fast and furious first round! [Power Man & Iron Fist #90]

In yesterday's feature I made reference to two points of interested coming out of Unus' first appearance in the Infinite Wars: So-called "foreign" characters in superhero comics, and merry Marvel mutants. In an effort to once more make use of our database of rankings and statistics, we take a look at the top twenty-five mutants as they are ranked in the Infinite Wars.

Top 25 Mutants
#1 Wolverine
#2 Beast
#3 Storm
#4 Sub-Mariner
#5 Kitty Pryde
#6 Rogue
#7 Jean Grey
#8 Angel
#9 Iceman
#10 Cable
#11 Cyclops
#12 Gambit
#13 Tabitha Stevens
#14 Cannonball
#15 Forge
#16 Sunspot
#17 Banshee
#18 Franklin Richards
#19 Unus
#20 Jubilee
#21 Professor X
#22 Scarlet Witch
#23 Colossus
#24 Rachel Summers
#25 Nightcrawler
We can expect to make no real deductions here, aside from the fact that perhaps I have a bias against mutants. On the other hand, if the Infinite Wars manage to distill any kind of reflection of interest, it might also manage to say something about the state of the X-offices post-Morrison, and post-Decimation.

There were allegedly around one-hundred and ninety-eight mutants left after Scarlet Witch uttered the infamous phrase, "No more mutants." A figure which was acknowledged as vague, presumably for lack of editorial efforts to ensure the number would stick. Likewise, it obviously gave a backdoor to a concept that seems inherently flawed, and backward in it's thinking. A one-two combo of errors, following Brian "Death to the furry ones*" Bendis' embarassing forray into the company-wide crossover -- House of M.

I think it's safe to say, regardless of the specifics of his "writing", the Stan Lee years of Marvel represented a period of convincing forward momentum and growth for characters.
It was probably this very fact that helped bring a degree of dynamism that was lacking from the stagnant characters of the Distinguished Competition, who had already existed long enough to know that realistic development was a creative 'rubber cheque' they couldn't possibly cash.

Lee's characters revitalized the market and became icons through this contrast, but decades later we now have a Marvel typified by it's tendency to break-apart and rebuild in an endless cycle of stagnant repetition.

It was during the period of Bill Jemas that the House of Ideas looked to be about ready to shake-off the negative stigma of their previous successes and indiscretions alike. Progressive decision making meant Grant Morrison could expand and build upon the mutant community to create a long overdue sense of progress, going beyond the sixties notion of those feared and hated for who they are.

It's probably important to note that Marvel was publishing characters like Captain America and Sub-Mariner in the forties, right alongside DC's vintage allumnists.
Even so, Marvel's history was fragmented in a way that really saw them flourishing as a company (and universe) twenty years later, as opposed to DC's conceptual stream of history, which has retroactively been depicted as much steadier. Highlighting the fact that today we see the benefit of DC's investment in characters, and twenty-year headstart with the majority of their headlining characters.

Perceived forward momentum through legacy characters, and a progressive approach to redressing and developing ideas, rather than explicitly restarting them, has been, I think, DC's major success of the decade.

Marvel continues to present new and interesting ideas, like the maligned Civil War, but it will take time and vision for them to shake the stigma of the stop-start approach that has typified their efforts over the last thirty years.

Sadly, the decimation of the mutants is a can't win situation of credibility.
Damned if you reverse the error of judgment and play into the same stop-start rebuilding that got you in this mess to begin with. Damned if you keep the mutants to an endangered few.

The weight of this conundrum rests on the upcoming Messiah Complex, which will supposedly investigate the veiled Mutant #0 -- the first born mutant since the decimation to one hundred and ninety-eight. I don't have high hopes.

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5.5
[Power Man and Iron Fist retired as Heroes for Hire during the revamp series in the late nineties. They made occasional cameos in the pages of Daredevil still fullfilling a bodyguard role, while last year saw the launch of a new Heroes series, starring their girlfriends; Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. As a duo, Power Man and Iron Fist can currently be found in the pages of New Avengers.]

*Not an actual nickname for Bendis.

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