Friday, September 21, 2018

Return To Destiny (DC)
Adventure Comics #450 When: March-April 1977 Why: Denny O'Neil How: Mike Nasser & Terry Austin

The Story So Far...
Mars lives again and welcomes the leadership of J'onn J'onzz, but celebrations on Mars II are cut short when his dear friend Re's Eda is murdered by sniper fire!

The erstwhile Martian Manhunter must apply his trade as detective and superhero to catch the killer -- but Eda's final words implicate a gunman from his former home of Sol! Since the only beings who know of Mars II's existence are the Justice League -- The Manhunter makes a grim vow to return to Earth!

He steals a spaceship from the resistant Martian Army and blazes to the stars, but the Earth-bound fury is pursued by one of his own! Commander N'or Cott uses torpedoes to shoot down the unarmed ship, sending it crashing towards the city of Metropolis! This looks like a job for Supergirl!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Martian Manhunter 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Supergirl 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Supergirl 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Martian Manhunter 7 (Unlimited)
Fighting: Martian Manhunter 4 (Trained)
Energy: Draw 5 (Lasers)
Total: Martian Manhunter 36 (Cosmic)

Today's battle pits two great heroes in an unlikely dream match! It's The Girl of Steel testing her mettle against the mighty Manhunter from Mars!

Drenched by Earth's yellow sun: Supergirl shares all the solar-charged gifts made famous by her Kryptonian cousin! She's super-humanly strong, durable, fast, has enhanced senses, can fly, use X-ray and laser heat vision, blow massive quantities of air with high intensity -- as well as a few other tricks!

In some incarnations its been suggested Supergirl's powers can rival, or even exceed, those of Superman's, but the one thing she undoubtedly lacks is his experience! Experience being something Martian Manhunter has to spare!

J'onn J'onzz was a policeman on his native Mars long before he was accidentally brought to Earth! He possesses a range of powers similar to Supergirl's, with the addition of telepathy, advanced shape-shifting, and intangibility!

We saw the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter exploit those extra abilities to vicious effect against Green Lantern and Flash [Green Lantern #44], while muscle was the main mode of victory against the Appellaxian Stone God [Secret Origins #32], and Professor Ivo's robot army [Justice League of America #261].

He's generally strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Supergirl, and need only to do a little light mental rewiring to prey upon her inexperience. The drawback to all those incredible powers is a Martian's physical and mental weakness to fire!

Supergirl need only glare intently to light a spark with her Kryptonian heat vision! She did it against Mary Marvel in Final Crisis #6, and used it to melt lead around Reactron back in Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9! The glow of the flame was enough to stop J'onn J'onzz in his tracks in Secret Origins #35 and DC: The New Frontier #2, but he showed some greater resilience when rushing into battle with the towering Brimstone [Legends #2].

Both hero's power sets have been inconsistent in demonstration, but for the most part they're very evenly matched! Supergirl has the obvious trump card with her intense heat vision, but experience and mental powers makes Martian Manhunter the more compelling case. Let's see if those factors come to play...

The Tape: Martian Manhunter Ranking: Martian Manhunter (#23)

What Went Down...

An explosion and hail of spaceship debris signals the unannounced return of the Martian Manhunter to Earth! He ejects from the vessel just in time to avoid its destruction, but is still stunned and disoriented by the blast!

Spying the dazzling sky show while she soars above the city -- Supergirl rushes to intercept the deadly debris! Mistaking it for an attack by aliens, she flings the door in the direction of the tiny silhouette that was the pilot!

Struggling to see straight - the Martian Manhunter is tagged by the unexpected hunk of metal!

Instinctively perceiving threat, he swoops to return firing, forcing Supergirl to take evasive action while destroying the projectile with another of her own!

The young heroine recognizes her error, but the Martian's violent response leaves her uncertain of his motives. Given his strength rivals hers, she hopes a pulled strike will bring him back to his senses and delivers a stiff left!

The attack has the opposite effect, only serving to further provoke the confused Martian hero! He lashes out with a devastating left hook of his own -- launching Supergirl sideways with the brunt of his impressive strength!

The young heroine is unshaken by the physical assault, but scrambles for the wisdom she presumes her cousin would have. Unsure, she steels herself and hopes to hold the Manhunter off until he regains his senses!

A flying torpedo dive gives pause for thought, while Supergirl's desperate cries for peace cut through the fog of the Martian's disorientation. He remembers!

No sooner than he recognizes Supergirl does the Martian Manhunter lock eyes with N'or Cott's spacecraft! Sensing danger, he warns Supergirl to watch out as two missiles fire in their direction and she prepares to save them both!

The Hammer...
It was a superhero fight in the classic style! A touch of brashness, with a hint of mistaken identity! Martian Manhunter was kept at a disadvantage thanks to his shuttle explosion, while Supergirl resisted going too far once she identified the JLA stalwart. The net result is an aerial slugfest destined to end in a tie!

If this were a face-off from the last couple of decades you'd probably find both characters intent on hitting much harder, with more efforts to demonstrate their unique abilities. The fact that today's fight isn't so bloodthirsty is actually quite refreshing! It's a little cheesy, but it's nice to think heroes can walk away from their scuffles without devolving into brutal blood feuds.

While we won't draw too many definitive conclusions from today's clash, it makes a case for the strength of both characters. Qualities that've been inconsistently depicted at various stages in their publication history.

It's always kind of amazing to think about Martian Manhunter's vast powers being so overlooked! The late Len Wein once joked about the propensity of a bygone era for reducing him to super-breath. The scourge of birthday cakes, he mocked. I'm glad 1977 was treating the character a little better!

In internal monologue, Supergirl surmises that the Martian's strength is nearly equal to hers. I've always preferred a modern scale that puts Martian Manhunter in the upper echelons of super-human strength, but the so-called "Swiss Army Knife of Superheroes" has often been minimized in that regard. I tend to think a mild manner and the simplicity of his fire weakness is the better balance.

My notorious bias against kid heroes means I usually think of Supergirl as a step behind her cousin, but when strength is derived from exposure to Earth's yellow sun, without a single iron pumped, it kinda stands to reason there's relative parity. Inexperience is the point of difference that makes Supergirl interesting.

As noted last month; I've been revisiting seventies issues of Adventure Comics to enjoy the heyday of another (sometimes) underrated hero: Aquaman!

The action-packed Adventure Comics #444 was the first to feature a full issue of Aquaman action, but the back-up stories quickly returned with issue #449. There, Martian Manhunter made his home on Mars II, before a murder plot sets him on a series of run-ins with heroes, beginning with Supergirl in #450.

I'm sure writer Denny O'Neil wouldn't consider this a narrative high point of his distinguished career, but you've gotta love these kinds of back-up stories! The easily overlooked and forgotten ones! With characters who matter, doing things just a little bit interesting. The less common the combination - the better!

Granted, these days Supergirl & Martian Manhunter go together like milk & cookies! It's one of the rare examples when film (or rather television) actually refines and exploits a character to their best elements! In Supergirl's case, one of the best improvements the show has made was the costume!

I can't say I have a lot of love for the seventies shorts/bloomers seen in today's featured fight, nor the small shield logo off to one side. Its leagues ahead of the micro skirt atrocities yet to come from the new millennium, but there's a lot to be said for keeping it simple and classic. Not just simple, as it is here.

Classic sure worked for J'onn J'onzz, who'll be back in a stylized version of the old look in a new DC Comics series announced by The Hollywood Reporter! It's a little weird visually, but shows promise as Martian Manhunter continues a comeback from the dark days of the New 52 reboot!

I'm sure we'll be talking more MM and Supergirl in the future! If you'd like to find more be sure to follow links throughout this post, or dive into the Secret Archive for featured fights indexed by publisher, series, and issue number.

You can support Secret Wars on Infinite Earths by using social media links at the bottom of each feature to share your favourite fights! You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook to get daily links to classic fights inspired by the topics of the day! A like, share, retweet, or comment is a great way to get involved!

Winner: Inconclusive (Draw)
#23 (--) Martian Manhunter
#108 (+5) Supergirl

Friday, September 14, 2018

Temptation! (Marvel)
Daredevil #255 When: June 1988
Why: Ann Nocenti How: John Romita Jr

The Story So Far...
Unable to prove the culpability of Kelco Industrials in the blinding of a young boy - lawyer Matt Murdock wrestles with guilt in his nightmares. Meanwhile, he's conducting an affair with the boy's nurse -- unaware that all of these elements are brought forth by The Kingpin of Crime!

Wilson Fisk is behind the chemical company, and plans to use high-powered lawyers to flaunt their guilt and crush Murdock's belief in true justice. Likewise, the kindly Mary with whom Matt shares a kiss is in actual fact The Kingpin's latest assassin killing his rivals!

Unaware that he's being targeted in both his lives, Murdock makes the change to Daredevil when he senses danger on the streets. A decision that will at last bring him face-to-face with the deadly Typhoid Mary!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Daredevil 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Daredevil 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Daredevil 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Daredevil 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Daredevil 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Daredevil 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Typhoid Mary 4 (Arsenal)
Total: Daredevil 26 (Champion)

When it comes to The Kingpin's personal bodyguards: the gold standard has always been Bullseye and Elektra - but in 1988, he found himself an assassin that took the danger to a wild and unpredictable new level!

Typhoid Mary is a stone cold killer whose dissociative multiple-personality disorder manifests between three main identities. Each possesses her innate mutant abilities, but wields them to a distinct degree.

The timid personality of Mary Walker would never be so callous, but when Typhoid Mary is unleashed - she uses her psionic, telekinetic, and pyrokinetic powers tactically against her opponents! That means she can spontaneously start fires, move light objects, and even mentally manipulate some opponents!

Typhoid Mary has also developed her fighting skills to be a high quality martial artist, known to wield dual katana swords. She was part of the Shadow Initiative when we saw her combining sword, fire, and telekinesis to decapitate Bloodscream, in Avengers: The Initiative #24!

She's had memorable run-ins with Deadpool, Spider-man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider, sometimes in the guise of her destructive Bloody Mary personality, but her greatest opponent will always be Daredevil!

The man without fear has a history of facing deadly assassins, but our record only contains two examples with mutant powers! He narrowly turned the tables on a Hand possessed Wolverine in Wolverine #24. No such luck when Deadpool used DD's own good nature to outwit him in Contest of Champions II #4.

A weakness for the ladies allows Typhoid Mary to get close to DD in his civilian identity, and with her psionic abilities there may be no opponent more equipped to get into his mind! He's a strong-willed individual, fighting on his home turf, but will superior hand-to-hand skills overcome fire and the mind? Let's find out!

The Tape: Daredevil Ranking: Daredevil (#13)

What Went Down...
Matt Murdock senses smoke and disturbance as he walks the streets of Hell's Kitchen. When his alter-ego of Daredevil returns in moments -- all seems eerily well. That is, until a flaming shirt precedes the violent crash of a church cross!

The hero effortlessly backflips clear of the falling crucifix, detecting danger with radar-like senses. They reach out to the rooftops, following a trail of laughter that leads to the source of the unexpected attack: Typhoid Mary!

Something familiar nags at the blind hero, but he cannot detect the altered rhythms of a Mary he knows in ordinary life. Just the streaking blur of a wild heart tearing the streets apart to lure its "Guardian Devil".

Typhoid drops from the rooftops, kicking up garbage that breaks her fall! The airborne wave of trash and refuse creates a fog of distraction. He doesn't sense Typhoid Mary until she's upon him - riding his shoulders to the ground!

He rolls with the tackle -- redirecting Mary to tumble through garbage across an empty lot. She lies amidst the smoldering trash, while DD continues trying to focus his radar senses. Her mental powers deny him a clear image!

She further attacks his mind, drawing convenient parallels between contract killing criminals, and a non-lethal brand of judicial justice. Temptations of violent solutions learned in daylight by her placid other self. Nagging familiarity.

She mocks his religion, and sends a wall of literal hot garbage with a flick of mutant telekinesis. A demonstration of power that annoys more than it hurts. An act of good faith to prove she could destroy Daredevil if she really wanted.

He pulls her out of the garbage and onto her feet, challenging rhetoric of Nietzsche and good & evil. She's unmoved by the contradiction of it all.

Face to face, their philosophies intertwine with concepts of justice and religion, while Mary's leg hooks around DD's. With fire at their feet she compares herself to the devil conversing with a priest. An opposite too exciting to resist! She pulls her heel back and betrays both their balance. They fall!

This time Daredevil lands hard on his back after the tumble. Mary's very presence burns and disorients. He's confused. She steals a kiss. He hates her.

Somehow Daredevil gets his legs up and drives his feet deep into Typhoid's gut!

The vicious kick launches Mary from his body. Sweat pours from beneath his red mask as Daredevil dwells on his disgust. He can't stand the heat and at last he's ready for a fight. If only there were anyone there to accommodate him.

By the time he's back on his feet Typhoid Mary is already gone!

The Hammer...

By the time Daredevil is back on his feet; Mary is already somewhere on the rooftops contemplating her prey. The fight may've been a dead rubber, but her split personality beat the man with dual identities (and a built-in lie detector).

She plans to "allow" her alter-ego of Mary Walker to continue falling in love with Murdock. Such vulnerability is sickening to Typhoid, but it all plays into her million dollar contract, and the Kingpin's advice to get him "through the heart". It's certainly a proven method for disrupting Daredevil's life - before and since!

We're kinda getting to my heart, too. Albeit, with much more positive results!

I've been hoping to get to back to more of Ann Nocenti's run on Daredevil for quite some time. It's a period I've come to regard with a great deal of fondness. I even called my shot a couple of years ago, specifically citing these early appearances of Typhoid Mary! She ranks with Lady Deathstrike as one of my favourite Marvel creations of the eighties. It's been a long time coming!

By now you probably know the story: Nocenti had the seemingly unenviable task of following Frank Miller's legendary association with Daredevil [in 1986].

Miller's last gasp came with Daredevil #233, concluding the short saga of a maniac super-solder named Nuke. There were a curious couple of issues drawn by Steve Ditko after that, possibly material already on file. Nocenti picks up threads from the Nuke plot to initiate her time as writer with Daredevil #236.

It's difficult to talk about Nocenti's work without comparing it to Miller, and I get the sense she kinda knew that. Her first issue features art by Barry Windsor-Smith, with a plain clothes Black Widow, and crew cut soldier-types, that feels a deliberately sympathetic transition from the Miller era.

Of course, it's easy to forget Miller peppered his issues with the colours of Captain America and the Heroes for Hire! He's probably best remembered for the costume-less deconstruction of Born Again, and the red fever of Elektra and The Hand, but those splashes of superheroics blend well with Nocenti's future.

By the end of her first year, she had Daredevil teaming with the likes of Black Panther and Wolverine! The spirit of Daredevil remained consistent with Miller, but she had a sense of cool that not only welcomed the colourful rabble of the outside Marvel Universe -- but aggressively embraced it!

Typhoid Mary feels inevitably cast in the mold of Elektra, but is also a bubblegum post-punk reflection of the world outside.

If Miller had drawn on cinematic seventies grit and noir fatalism to redefine Daredevil for the early eighties; Nocenti ripped the blinds off the window and showed that character the neon world around him.

The great John Romita Jr is probably owed a hefty debt for crafting a look that sings all the right notes. The big spikey hair, bulky neon pink top, Mad Max metal shoulder pads, and fishnets with swimsuit and boots are a masterpiece! It tells you everything you need to know about the threat and attitude of this wild character. She has only degraded with later re-designs.

As if all that wasn't eighties enough - she's also a pyrokinetic mutant wildchild in the vein of Carrie and dozens of other icons from the age. This was right around the time Jason Voorhees was coming up against a telekinetic troubled teen. It's thoroughly cliché, but in this package, going up against Daredevil - it works!

I've heard Mary is in the new series of Iron Fist on Netflix, but I'm not even going to pretend it will be anything but a waste of your time. These shows love to be boring and Typhoid Mary is a character who is anything but! You'd think a Pink Ladies leather jacket and some high heels would fit the budget, but this world of chumps just isn't ready for the real Typhoid Mary!

If you're ready for the real Typhoid Mary, you can always find refuge in the comics!

By using the Amazon links provided, you'll find your way to a collected edition that contains today's featured issue. If you do - you'll help support Secret Wars on Infinite Earths at no extra cost to your order's final total!

You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook for daily links to fights inspired by the topics of the day! A follow, like, retweet, or share is another nice way to show your support! Follow links in each post to discover more, or dive into the Secret Archive for a complete index of featured fights ordered by publisher, series, and issue number!

Winner: Inconclusive (Draw)
#13 (--) Daredevil
#141 (+149) Typhoid Mary

Friday, September 07, 2018

Night of the Dragon (Marvel)
Marvel Team-Up #63 When: November 1977
Why: Chris Claremont How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
A mysterious malcontent has come to plague Iron Fist's existence -- attacking when he least expects it in a style reminiscent of his old teacher's!

The most recent ambush left Iron Fist with his lifeforce partially drained! The lethal technique is enough to push him to disappear into weeks of hard martial arts training -- readying himself for an opponent deadlier than any he's faced!

When a written challenge finally arrives on his luxurious doorstep - Danny Rand is forced to postpone a homestead photo-spread with Daily Bugle photographer Peter Parker. He takes a cab ride toward destiny, unaware that the unassuming camera man is in fact a former ally - the friendly neighborhood Spider-man!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super-Human)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Steel Serpent 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Iron Fist 3 (Explosives)
Total: Spider-man 29 (Metahuman)

It was supposed to be the ultimate martial arts showdown! Instead -- our hero walks toward the challenge with an interloper following in his shadow...

Steel Serpent is Davos - son of Lei Kung the Thunderer of the hidden city of K'un-Lun. Davos was destined to challenge the great dragon Shou-Lao until he lost the right in fair combat to an adopted outsider: Wendell Rand-Kai.

Davos faced the dragon anyway in an attempt to steal the gift of its power, but was defeated, and exiled from the mystic realm in disgrace. Wendell Rand left K'un-Lun shortly thereafter as well, never partaking in the rites of Shou-Lao.

Rand instead returned to America to forge a new life as a wealthy entrepreneur and family man. He attempted to return decades later with his family in tow, but was murdered during the mountain expedition, leaving his orphaned son Danny to be taken in by K'un-Lun's new ruler, Lord Yu-Ti, much as Wendell was.

Danny studied martial arts under Lei Kung's tutelage, successfully completing the challenge of Shou-Lao to claim the power of the living weapon: Iron Fist!

We've seen Danny rely on martial arts mastery to overcome several powerful foes, including: Sabretooth [Iron Fist #14, Power Man & Iron Fist #66], Unus The Untouchable [Power Man & Iron Fist #90], Man Mountain Marko [Power Man & Iron Fist #93], and even his possessed pal Luke Cage [New Avengers #2]!

Steel Serpent may share some of their physical dominance, but it's his fighting skill that makes him twice the threat of any other opponent! When he returned to K'un-Lun for a tournament, he demonstrated his aptitude for out-fighting a nimble opponent: Tiger's Beautiful Daughter [Immortal Iron Fist #11]!

Daredevil pushed Danny's skill with his own martial arts prowess, but nearly succumbed to the Iron Fist technique during a case of mistaken identity in Daredevil #87. In today's fight - it's Steel Serpent who has the element of surprise, leaving Iron Fist to assume he is in fact his mentor Lei Kung!

The wildcard then becomes Spider-man, who has pursued Iron Fist without the martial artist knowing it! Steel Serpent may have organized himself advantages in his campaign against Iron Fist, but Spider-man presumably evens them out!

We haven't seen Spidey face a truly skilled fighter yet, but he did fight Hand ninjas with Iron Fist some years later, in New Avengers #27. Of course, he's more of an instinctive fighter, and we saw how superior command of power hurt him in a confrontation with Mister Negative [Amazing Spider-man #621].

Iron Fist & Spider-man have to go into this one as team-up favourites, but now that we know the fighters involved, there's really only one thing left to do...

The Tape: Iron Fist & Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Iron Fist stalks across the refuse scattered lawn of Inwood Park, determined to meet the mysterious challenge of his former master. He calls for The Thunderer, but is instead met with the grim visage of his master's son: Steel Serpent!

Davos implies his vengeance was bestowed upon Danny Rand the day he was born. Now his fate is to lose the iron fist power, undoing the slight of Wendell Rand and the August Personage of Jade - Lord Yü-Ti!

The two warriors bow before snapping into a fighting stance. The formality is quickly broken as Steel Serpent makes the first move - thrusting the ball of his foot into Iron Fist's exposed jaw!

Iron Fist lets his body ride the sledgehammer-like blow, but the devastating power behind the strike does not go unnoticed! He responds in kind, moving rapidly to chop Serpent's hand and headbutt his jaw with an "Atama" strike. The move is good, but not enough to rattle a fighter still so fresh!

Steel Serpent restores distance between he and his foe by blocking Iron Fist's second hand, and thrusting his chopped palm straight at the hero's face! The strike instills a sense of urgency in Iron Fist, whose body absorbs the recoil and channels it fluidly into through his legs and into a devastating back heel kick!

Iron Fist abandons banter to focus on pure martial arts, estimating his opponent to be one of the greatest fighters he's ever faced!

Steel Serpent drives his threatening home with a roundhouse kick buried deep into Iron Fist's mid-section with a slam! Iron Fist fires right back with a jumping roundhouse that explodes against Steel Serpent's head! An even match!

From the shadows of nearby trees - Spider-man arrives to observe the epic late night showdown! As a diving Iron Fist gets caught with a hard hooking punch, Spidey becomes desperate to help his one-time ally!

Just as Steel Serpent presses his advantage with belittling insult -- he senses Spider-man swinging from the trees! He catches the web-slinger's foot before it can connect -- and uses a vice-like grip to swing him like a baseball bat!

Spider-man is ill prepared for the twist of fate, contorting like a ragdoll as the arc of the swing brings him colliding with a similarly stunned Iron Fist!

The human hammer toss sends a limp Spider-man hurtling unforgivingly back towards the trees! The velocity wraps his twisting body around itself as smashes into the wooden trunk with absolutely no control!

The sickening scene inspires anger in a battered and bloody Iron Fist. He vows to return injuries in kind and end their duel, charging at his opponent with a fist of fury! Alas, the impulsive maneuver plays right into Steel Serpent's hands!

Davos dodges the strike and uses their close proximity to lock his arms under Iron Fist's in an inverted full nelson! His rage and hatred fuel the true attack -- an assault on Danny Rand's very life-force!

Spider-man is blinded by the light as Steel Serpent uses an ancient technique to drain the very chi from Iron Fist! Its glare lasts mere moments, but it is the third time Davos has used the attack -- and this time he means it!

Spider-man cries out in horror for his friend as Davos raises a fist to the heavens with the power of the immortal Iron Fist flowing through him!

The villain clutches a limp and powerless Iron Fist by the throat, preparing a killing blow to eliminate the threat once and for all. Fortunately for Danny Rand, he is a man with many friends, and fate would not end his life so cruelly!

Misty Knight arrives on the scene just in time to distract Steel Serpent with her speeding car. He is unimpressed with the armed investigator, but is soon persuaded by a demonstration of her unique hi-tech weaponry!

The intervention buys a reprieve for Danny Rand's life, but it cannot undo the undeniable conclusion: Steel Serpent has won!

The Hammer...
The assist from Misty Knight bought Iron Fist a life-saving reprieve, but Spider-man's unsolicited intervention had already doomed him to brutal defeat at the hands of Steel Serpent!

Regular readers may've noticed I've had a serious case of Spider-mania this year, but in the last couple of weeks, I've also found myself on a routine martial arts bender. I couldn't think of a better way to bridge the gap than today's featured fight!

The ultimate showdown between Steel Serpent and Iron Fist was developed like a WrestleMania main event that lost its venue. It was nurtured in sub-plot over several months of issues. When Danny Rand faced a debuting Sabretooth in Iron Fist #14, he was still reeling from an unexpected street fight with shadowy Steel Serpent! The series would only last one more issue before cancellation...

By late 1977, Chris Claremont and John Byrne were already appearing together as creative team on Marvel Team-Up. The sometimes hit or miss series was having a pretty good year under Claremont, largely due to a steady run of top grade villains, and guest heroes. You may remember Marvel Team-Up #58 from the archives, where Spidey and Ghost Rider took on The Trapster.

There was only one missed month between the cover dates for Iron Fist #15 and Marvel Team-Up #63. With the parties involved, it must've been relatively easy to consolidate the Iron Fist conclusion into MTU, but it does read a bit like Spidey is crowbarred in. Less like Byrne had already drawn the pages, and more like somebody was grappling with keeping as much of the envisioned conclusion as possible, even with the theme of the Spidey Team-Up book.

I wonder how much the web-slinger's well-meaning mishap was inspired by publishing circumstance. Iron Fist had seen some big name guests in its final few issues, but I find it hard to believe Spider-man was part of the original plan.

I've been thinking about martial arts genre fiction, particularly Street Fighter, in terms of opera. Superheroes by their very nature lend an operatic element, but it's a little bit more straight forward than the ponderous ensembles of SF.

Spidey invariably compromises the fated, one-on-one challenge. The location seems as likely to facilitate Spider-man and Misty Knight as it does give a 70s grit. Fortunately, there's still a clear intent to give the big fight its due.

Fist and Serpent are completely uninterrupted for three and a half explosive pages -- and it feels like more! Even when Spidey's arrival turns the tide in Davos' favour, the focus is all about the martial artists. I appreciate that!

There is, of course, a rematch in the following issue. You didn't really think they'd leave Iron Fist stripped of his powers, did you...? Well, maybe... The second season of Iron Fist hit Netflix today, and it's fair to say they've had a tough time making the most of their colourful comics inspirations!

Fortunately, classic Iron Fist comics are still available in a variety of collected editions!

When shopping you'll want to make sure Marvel Team-Up #63-64 are included! Some versions cut-off before then, or in the case of Masterworks, don't even get that far!

By using embedded Amazon links, you help support the site at no extra cost to you! Any purchase will do, but a couple of Iron Fist options are provided here for your convenience!

You can also find more Iron Fist and martial arts mayhem by diving into the Secret Archive! There you'll find every featured fight indexed by publisher, series, and issue number! For more targeted discover you should check out some of the links littered throughout this, and many other posts.

You can also get daily links to fights inspired by the topics of the day by following Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook! A like, share, and retweet is another ancient technique used by masters who support the site!

Winner: Steel Serpent
#101 (+131) Steel Serpent (Davos)
#2 (--) Spider-man
#18 (--) Iron Fist
#541 (new) Misty Knight