Friday, March 10, 2017

Riding Shotgun! (Marvel)
Power Man & Iron Fist #92 When: April 1983 Why: Kurt Busiek How: Denys Cowan

The Story So Far...
A recent near-miss with the Human Torch has led Maggia heavyweight Hammerhead back to police custody! His organized crime connections are itching to help the super-mobster fly the coup, forcing authorities to relocate him to a prison facility upstate, away from crooked ties.

Moving a villain with the super-strong ramming capabilities of Hammerhead takes a specially design maximum security containment vehicle -- and a special escort to make sure nothing shady happens on the way. Enter: The Heroes For Hire!

Iron Fist Danny Rand has accepted the gig for a reasonable fee. All he and Power Man have to do is make sure the truck reaches its destination without incident. Piece of cake, right? Nahhh! The Maggia are planning to spring their boy en route. Watch your backs, Heroes for Hire! Trouble's coming your way!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Luke Cage 5 (Super-Human)
Intelligence: Iron Fist 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Iron Fist 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Luke Cage 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Iron Fist 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Eel 4 (Arsenal)
Total: Iron Fist 28 (Metahuman)

How do you feel about a little tag team action? We've got a couple of unranked ringers ready to take down the Heroes for Hire! They were hired to stage a jailbreak for their boss Hammerhead -- but there's a bit of history here, too!

Man Mountain Marko is exactly what it says on the label -- a mountain of a man! Michael Marko used to be an ordinary street thug until The Maggia organized crime mob fulfilled his wish for super-powers! Now his towering frame possesses greatly enhanced strength and durability, making him the perfect muscle for Maggia bosses like Silvermane and Hammerhead!

He's new to the Fight Club rankings, but has a history of harassing the likes of Spider-man, The Lizard, and even Jessica Jones in more recent years!

He's a no frills heavy, but that doesn't mean he should ever be taken lightly. He's had the better of Power Man in the past, and was thwarted by Iron Fist! He's got old beef with the Heroes for Hire -- and a new partner to help settle the score!

Edward Lavell is the second man to don the electrically powered suit of The Eel! He inherited the technology after Leopold Stryke was murdered by Melvin Potter, aka; the deadly Gladiator!

As it so happens, this is Lavell's first time out in the suit. It marks the beginning of a criminal career that will see him battle the likes of Spider-man, Daredevil, Captain America, and Black Cat!

How can the Eel stand toe-to-toe with such illustrious enemies? The suit allows him to direct electrical bolts offensively, shock anyone who makes contact, direct a current through any conductive material, and emit an electrical field. The suit keeps him insulated from electric shock -- and secretes a greasy substance that makes him as slippery as his namesake!

Power Man & Iron Fist have of course dealt with similar opponents as a pairing, and individually. In Power Man & Iron Fist #66 we saw them beat the pairing of Constrictor & Sabretooth, a follow-up to Iron Fist's solo win against Sabretooth in Iron Fist #14. Unus the Untouchable put them on the back foot in Power Man & Iron Fist #90, but they worked it out in the end.

Marko and Cage are pretty evenly matched. Eel could be tricky, using the advantage of ranged bolts of electricity to keep the Iron Fist out of reach. Fist's fast feet and flying kicks should be good for closing distance. There's another way to come at the fight, but we'll leave that for the real deal. Let's get into it!

The Tape: Heroes for Hire Ranking: Power Man (#9)

What Went Down...
Lost in the wind and road noise roaring past their ears -- Power Man & Iron Fist fail to notice a uniquely quiet helicopter hovering mere feet behind them! Its cargo: two shadowy figures ready to drop onto the speeding containment truck and move in to announce themselves: Man Mountain Marko and Eel!

Power Man is first to his feet, eager to settle an old score with Marko. The Man Mountain greets him with a wild haymaker that narrowly misses its target -- not because of Power Man's swiftness, but rather the lurching of the truck!

Iron Fist confronts the man wearing the powersuit of The Eel. The new villain introduces himself with an old attack -- arcing two electrical bursts from his fingertips to the martial artist! Iron Fist just barely escapes their charge, firing back with a high straight kick!

Cops spot the action on the truck, but can't get a straight shot at the speeding vehicle -- even if they knew who to shoot! Fortunately, Luke Cage has the fight in hand, knocking the Man Mountain down to size with an uppercut!

He towers over his old nemesis noting his silence, only to have Marko turn the tables once more with a sudden kick that sends Cage tumbling over the side!

Iron Fist fears for his partner's peril, but Eel is on him before he can do anything to help! The electric fiend's fists swat the martial artist's face. He falls at first, but a quick kip-up has him back on his feet and in the fight. Eel slips around his extended arm to get into close quarters -- slippery like his namesake!

Meanwhile, Power Man finds himself having avoided road rash by clinging to the side of the container. Marko spots Cage and comes to stomp him off, but a sudden lurch of the truck plants him on his mountain-sized keister!

Iron Fist starts to see the elements of a stalemate as he easily avoids Eel's wild haymaker. He counter-fires with a high martial arts kick that fails to hit its mark. He and The Eel may be better at staying on their feet than their heavyweight comrades -- but there's too much movement for precision strikes.

Eel reckons on the same, but comes up with an all together deadlier tie breaker.

The metal trailer is a perfect conductor for Eel's electric shocks, but the charge finds his partner when fleet-footed Iron Fist leaps above the carriage!

Cage isn't afraid of Eel's sting, either. He gets back to the top of the container to bring the tag team tussle to a conclusion. Much to Power Man's dismay, Iron Fist thinks it's time to switch partners. He trash talks Man Mountain a little more, distracting him so much he doesn't see the martial artist flying his way!

Eel confidently slips around his new opponent and drives his fist into his back -- but it hurts him more than Power Man! He nurses his knuckles for a moment and then swings around for his trump card -- but Cage is unfazed!

Eel's charge can't rival Cage's other foes. He stalks toward the newest wearer of the Eel suit with purpose. The villain gives up. Fat lot of good that'll do him. Advantage: Heroes for Hire!

The Man Mountain is still standing and he knows all he has to do is lay one good shot on Iron Fist to even the score. The speedy martial artist makes certain to remain evasive as he moves in.

Iron Fist uses Man Mountain's height to duck under his reach and springs up at breathing distance to slam both his arms against the sides of Marko's skull!

The shaking of the truck doesn't give the attack the sting it usually would've had. Marko's still on his feet and swinging mad when Iron Fist does something drastic: he jumps off the truck! Or so it seems...

Fist feigned the suicide fall to give himself the leverage and advantage to vault back up for a devastating kick! His body pendulums up -- colliding foot first into the back of Man Mountain Marko's skull! A kayo!

The Hammer...
Was there ever any doubt? Switching partners gave the Power Man & Iron Fist the edge they needed to beat the bad guys!

Cage's strength and resilience neutralized the new Eel's electric arsenal. Iron Fist's technical skill and balance on uneven ground was more than a match for muscleman Marko!

Mixing things up is an old superhero tactic, but some fans may know it as "castling" thanks to the popular parlance of Superman/Batman #4. A sneaky chess reference from wile writer Jeph Loeb that fits the bill very well!

March on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths was destined to be a month of martial arts mayhem inspired by the release of Iron Fist on Netflix!

The live-action series is as good a reason as any to celebrate choice cuts featuring the immortal weapon. With early impressions of show coming up dour, the world will need the comics if they're to understand the joy of this classic Marvel mainstay.

If you've been around the site before, you know all about my love of second and third-string villains. Maggia meatheads fit that bill nicely, and by deploying the Heroes for Hire on a security mission, Kurt Busiek and Denys Cowan give us a nice twist on the duo's usual urban capers!

Iron Fist was the one who accepted the job, of course. Power Man's past of wrongful imprisonment doesn't exactly make him enthusiastic about a prison escort mission. The odd couple dynamic of Danny Rand's enthusiasm and stiff reluctance from Cage have been cranked up to 11 in the most recent series.

We'll take a closer look at the Power Man & Iron Fist of today in our next feature fight. For now, I was inspired to dig up today's particular fight because of the publicized announcement of a new rogues gallery in the Iron Fist series.

"The Eel of Blessed Waters" of The Seven Masters got me thinking about past foes. I gather he (or she) doesn't have anything to do with the Eel featured in today's '83 flashback, but the notion tickled my fancy any way.

Usually when I see Eel get a mention these days, it's part of a meatball collective getting their butts handed to them. I might be overlooking something with a bit more heft, but this kind of fly-by-night villain that used to be a Marvel mainstay feels more scarce. The thought of dusting Eel off to be a recurring nemesis to Iron Fist wouldn't be such a bad idea. I guess that's been the charm of the new Power Man & Iron Fist, even though it's a little more slapstick.

We shouldn't let this battle go without a mention of Man Mountain Marko. A simple bruiser with a lot of charm. I prefer the greaser look with black leathers to the disco-era tough guy in white, but it's all pretty good. Sometimes it just takes a big, strong guy! Eel isn't the most natural tag team partner, but I like that these guys at least got another run at Power Man & Iron Fist. Kinda like the more high-profile pairing of Sabretooth & Constrictor.

Man Mountain is a co-creation of the John Romita Sr era of Amazing Spider-man, which gets me wondering what the heck "Marko" did to Stan Lee!

Marvel delivered a triple threat of jerks in relative rapid fire: Flint Marko ('63), Cain Marko ('65), and Michael Marko ('69)! Did a young Stan Lee suffer a clan of miscreants like the O'Doyle brothers of Billy Madison fame? I guess Sandman and even Juggernaut showed signs of redemption, so maybe catharsis wasn't quite the order. Still, you've got to wonder!

If you noticed Hammerhead's pride of place on the cover [top], you know we'll be coming back to this issue some time in the future. Classic mobsters are one of the many categories sorely lacking in the Comic Book Fight Club Archive!

If villains are your thing, or if you're just looking for classic battles and more superhero smackdown, be sure to follow links scattered throughout the post! You can also get links to fights inspired by the day's hot topics by follow on Facebook and Twitter! Being a hero for hire don't come cheap, and a like and share can make a whole lotta difference!

Winners: Power Man & Iron Fist
#8 (+1) Power Man (Luke Cage)
#18 (+3) Iron Fist
#824 (new) Man Mountain Marko
#825 (new) Eel (Edward Lavell)

No comments: