It is the combination people have been longing for, especially since Luke Cage debuted on Jessica Jones and many hold fond memories of the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja Iron Fist. As someone who has never read the original incarnation of this title, I can imagine quite a natural relationship based on the comic and television appearances. Luke is the unbreakable responsible father and Danny remains the reluctant clown prince of the Iron Fist. There is a natural contrast to play with and David Walker wastes no time at all in exploring that relationship. The opening issue discussed Cage’s usage of cuss words leading to him frequently uttering the pseudo-swear fiddle-faddle and developed the constant concern from Danny that Jessica hates him. In fact the latter resonates all the way to the final pages of this comic as Fist is still trying to find a reason. These are not only humourous adages but also foundations for a friendship and bring a realistic nuance to their interactions. Even the narrative becomes an extension of this theme because it is the rapport they had with their former secretary, Jennie that spurs their decision to help her retrieve a stolen magical artefact from Tombstone. How were they supposed to know that her new best friend, crime boss Black Mariah had hatched the plan to rob and steal their way to riches? And certainly Mariah had no idea Jennie would become an uncontrollable power-hungry monster as a result. Suddenly this looks like a job for the recently united Power Man and Iron Fist!
You need to look no further than the cover of issue two to realise than Sanford Greene is a perfect fit for these characters. His slightly caricaturist style lends to the enthusiastic swagger of Danny and the stoic straight face of Luke. Let alone the sheer difference in size, which is so important in establishing the roles of this partnership. Even the fist bump on the opening page is well rendered as it shows the giant clean fist of Power Man contrasting with the scratched and scarred kung fu hands of Iron Fist. It is these subtle differences that bring depth to the comic especially watching Cage’s scornful expressions to Rand’s enthusiastic pleas. Greene’s art works less well when it comes to the mystical elements of the confrontations as opposed to the physicality. There are differences in inking thickness which jarring to the flow at times but when Luke punches, everything is destroyed in his wake. This works similarly to Danny because he flies so swiftly and with poise that compares hilariously to when his flailing limbs hit the ground. Loughridge applies an orange tone to the whole comic that complements with the shirts, tracksuits and even the onsie colours of red, yellow and purple. The backstory panels are quite obvious as they feature lighter and greyer versions of this palette. Most importantly Loughridge brings warmth to the comic, making it feel as if the whole book took place at sundown. The bright purple mystical energies of a possessed Jennie Royce deliberately distract from a very calming and peaceful colour aesthetic. But that is kind of the whole point. This book is about the pain and anguish to preserve love and friendship.
One of the highlights of the previous issue was watching Tombstone’s henchman converse whilst on the look out for the stolen artefact. Their anxiety and fearfulness came across in a very loving and entertaining way, especially when they are in agreement about never really hearing anything Tombstone says. It is interesting how Walker is devoted to these characters especially as they aren’t central to the story. This is a buddy comic for all intents and purposes and is further proven by the prominence of the love between Mariah and Jennie to the plot. They may be villains but as Jennie spirals out of control, Mariah’s concern is quite obvious as Greene draws it all over her face. One of the highlights of the title is how Walker and Greene garner empathy from the readers through their devotion to all of their characters. Even for Lonnie “Tombstone“ Lincoln who is repeatedly called ugly to great amusement. There is genuine emotion to the conclusion of the story arc and it is refreshing to see that it isn’t reliant on kicks and punches to see our heroes through. Walker’s plot is solid and simple and sets the tone for future issues of the comic, whilst Greene brings humour and affection to the relationships on the page. All the while the only thing Danny cares about is whether he and Power Man are back together and what costume the big man should wear.