Dennis O’Neil: Of Fists and Dragons
Spring already? Well, okay, but I look out the window and see ten inches of snow. (And you may now imagine me sniffing and grumbling.) But, alas, just because I may not happen to like it, this spring bushwa, doesn’t mean anything surprising is about to happen. I can’t help noticing that the universe seldom alters its plan to accommodate my preferences. Rotten, but there you are,
So I guess we make the best of it, which is what we grumbling homo saps have always done, more or less, when we’ve gotten our grumbling out of the way. (First things first.) Okay, anything interesting on the immediate agenda? Ummmm – nope. But before I offer a tepid correction to that last sentence (if sentence is what it was) let me call your attention to an entertainment that lurks in the shadows of Thursday night. You might as well call it Iron Fist since that’s what its presenters are calling it and before them, what the creators who produced the Iron Fist comic book called it.
There haven’t been many martial arts comics, which is maybe mildly surprising since action/adventure are the very stuff of martial arts melodrama and, for a brief, shining moment in the sixties and seventies, pop culture as a whole seemed to be paying attention to it. You’ve heard of Bruce Lee? The TV show Kung-Fu?
Then the moment passed. Oh, martial arts excitement is still available, as something a good guy does or a bad guy does, and occasionally as a full-out big screen motion picture, usually with an Asian origin. (They don’t seem to be booked in theaters since the Chinatown screens have gone away. But Amazon will still sell you some and maybe they’re available elsewhere, too.) The best of them was Master of Kung Fu for which Roy Thomas had the bright idea of making his hero the son of Fu Manchu, a master villain created for the pulp magazines much popular in the 1930s.
There may have been a couple-three other comic book kung-fuers – someone is whispering the name “Richard Dragon,” but not very loudly. The next member of the club was today’s subject, the aforementioned Iron Fist, who made his Marvel Comics debut in 1977, looking maybe a bit more like your garden variety superhero than Bruce Lee. Soon, he joined another Marvel Luke Cage: Hero For Hire in issue #48.
Could the mighty television be far behind? Luke Cage had his time before the camera last year in a maxiseries that ran on Netflix and that I thought was pretty good. This Luke Cage was a street guy. To hell with mad scientists and wannabe world conquerors – our man wanted only to protect the citizens of Harlem. Will he re-partner with Fist? Will they be a good pair? Or will the universe gobsmack me with a surprise?