Christmas has come early, and it's sweet. On Wednesday, Marvel's new Power Man & Iron Fist series debuts and writer David Walker and artist Sanford Greene talk like they'd be first in line to buy it -- if they weren't the ones creating it.
Although the title name might be considered a throwback name, Walker and Greene revive and modernize the buddy-cop dynamic between Cage and Rand as a newly minted family man and his billionaire -- but out of touch -- friend. And while Luke Cage may have lost the tiara, the series is bringing in a new jewel -- the Supersoul Stone.
Newsarama talked to both Walker and Greene on the eve of the book's release, delving into the dynamic between the two title characters as well as the two creators -- both self-professed life-long fans of the Heroes for Hire.
Newsarama: David, Sanford, what interested you about doing a book such as Power Man & Iron Fist?
David Walker: This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid growing up. I’m old enough to have bought the solo books of both Power Man and Iron Fist when they first came out back in the 1970s, and these guys have always been two of my favorites. When their books were combined into one title, I kind of lost my mind. I was probably about ten at the time, and I was just starting to think about making comics, and Power Man and Iron Fist were the two characters I thought about working on. As a kid, I basically had an idea, which was “Power Man and Iron Fist Beat-Up Everyone”. The title kind of speaks for itself.
Sanford Greene: I can answer that in five words: Power Man and Iron Fist. These are two of my favorite characters from when I was a kid. They are still two of my favorite characters. I’ve been pestering Marvel's Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso for a very long time to let me draw this book. For me, it has been years in the making, ever since I first broke into the industry, and people starting asking me what my dream projects were. I talked to David last week, and we were both realized we are some lucky dudes right about now.
Nrama: The solicitation for the first issue promises “classic Heroes-for-Hire”; so are Danny and Luke back in the freelance superhero business?
Walker: They are still figuring out what they’re doing. Danny definitely wants to be back as a team, but Luke is hesitant. It’s been a long time since it was just the two of them, and part of the fun is watching them trying to navigate the waters of their partnership.
Greene: They are back in the business of busting heads and kicking butts.
Nrama: What can people expect with the first issue?
Walker: From the very beginning, I knew I had a challenge in front of me. These two characters have an incredibly loyal fan base, even though they haven’t starred together in their own book in about thirty years. For me, the challenge was writing something for the people that loved the original series—people like me—while at the same time writing something for readers who’ve never actually read an issue of Power Man and Iron Fist. I made the decision that this book had to be fun, because that’s what worked about the original series. It is a combination of action, comedy, and above all else, the interaction between Luke and Danny. If there are two characters that could carry a book of just them hanging out and talking, it is them. But I threw in some fights and action, because that stuff is always fun too.
Greene: I had a lot of fun drawing the first issue, because there’s such a mix. There is action, and a sense of humor, and it all comes together. I wanted to draw these characters for a very long time, but I had no idea what the actual story or script would be like. Wanting to draw characters is one thing, but getting to draw them in the type of story that plays to both your strengths and what you enjoy is something else.
Nrama: What is the Supersoul Stone that's mentioned in the solicitations?
Greene: The coolest thing you’ll ever see. I kept asking David, “What is this thing?” And he kept saying, “It’s cool. I’ll explain it later.” Finally, we got on the phone and talked it through, and he was right, it’s cool.
Walker: It is one of those things—you know what I mean. There’s the Ark of the Covenant, and the Eye of Agamotto, and all those things that people want for one reason or another. The Supersoul Stone is one of those things people want, even though they don’t really know what it is, or they think they know, but they might be wrong. I wanted to introduce something to the Marvel Universe that harkened back to those jewels and amulets and trinkets that were always getting people into trouble in the Marvel comic books I read when I was a kid. So, that’s a long way of saying that the Supersoul Stone is trouble.
Nrama: Fans really enjoyed seeing Black Mariah on the cover to #3; how big of a role does she play in this series?
Walker: She is a significant character in this first story arc, and then she’s going to become a significant character as the series develops. There were some really weird villains in the original Luke Cage series, and just as many in Power Man and Iron Fist. Some were weird and cool, and some, like Black Mariah, were…how do I put this? Problematic. I looked at all the villains, and felt she was the one that could reimagined the most, and turned into something we seldom see in comics—a large, black woman, who has some power. We are going to see her like she’s never been seen before, and I want her to become a character to be reckoned with. She’s still getting her act together, but in time, Black Mariah is going to be a crime boss that people will fear. The fun is going to be watching her on this journey.
Greene: She’s really important to this first story. And we talk about making sure that we changed her enough, both in appearance and personality, that she was someone the readers would love. Designing her was a lot of fun. I wanted to make sure it was a character that wasn’t like what you normally see in comics.
Nrama: How much of a role will Jessica Jones, Danielle, and for that matter the characters introduced in the recent Iron Fist by Kaare Andrews play in Power Man & Iron Fist?
Walker: Ask Sanford about this, because I swear, every few days he sends me a list of characters he wants to include in the story. It must be up to a hundred characters by now. Seriously, if I tried to put this many characters into an issue, he would punch me in the face. The short answer is that we will see a variety of supporting characters. Some will make cameos, and some will have guest starring roles. But first, we need to get Luke and Danny up on their feet. We need to see them as a team. That is the first order of business. The guest appearances will be there, and people will go crazy, because it will worthy of insanity.
Greene: One of the first questions David asked me was, “What characters do you want to draw?” My original answer was, “I’m just happy to be drawing Luke and Danny, so whoever else you want to put in the book is fine with me.” Then I started thinking about it, and I started sending him ideas: “Hey, can we have this character make an appearance?” I think I’m up to about twelve or thirteen characters I’ve asked him to write into the story, and that’s not counting the obvious ones, like Jessica Jones or Misty Knight.
Nrama: Although the title has some historical pedigree, it’s interesting that you and Marvel opted for “Power Man” in the title over simply “Luke Cage.” Can you talk about the reason behind that?
Walker: There are mysterious powers at work at Marvel, the likes of which my puny mind cannot comprehend, and they made the decision. At one point I said, “You know, there’s that other Power Man.” And the response was, “And there’s more than one Hawkeye, and more than one Spider-Man.” And I nodded my head, and decided to work that into the story. So part of what we’re going to see is Luke Cage coming to terms with the fact that for many people, he will always be Power Man, and he has to come to peace with that name.
Nrama: So, what do you want this series to ultimately be, guys?
Greene: Well, I’ve had a lot of fun working on it, so I want it to be fun. Reading comics is supposed to be entertaining, and fun, and a nice escape, and that’s what I want it to be.
Walker: I want it to be your best friend and your soul mate. I want it to be the peanut butter to your jelly, and if you don’t like peanut butter and jelly, I want it to be your favorite condiment on your favorite food. There are a lot of great comics out there, but not every comic is fun. By that, I mean some comics are dark and brooding, and make you want to hide from the monsters of the world. I want this series to be bring a little bit of light, to remind people that comic books can be fun.