Among all the gritty, street-level brawls inherent in a story like this summer's Shadowland event, one tie-in mini-series promises to lighten things up a bit while introducing a new young hero to the Marvel Universe.Shadowland: Power Man, a four-issue mini-series by Fred Van Lente, starts in August with a teenaged hero in the lead role. This new Power Man has ties to both Iron Fist and Luke Cage, with a slew of newly revived street villains and a power set and origin that links him to Bullseye.
With art by Mahmud Asrar, Shadowland: Power Man takes place within the framework of the Shadowland event, which focuses on the battle between Daredevil and the heroes who oppose his reign as a kingpin of New York City.
Newsarama talked to Van Lente about his mini-series to find out more about this new Power Man, how he's tied to Danny Rand, and which obscure Luke Cage villains will be showing up in his story.
Newsarama: What's the story behind the Power Man mini-series? And how does this arise out of the battle for New York City?
Fred Van Lente: The catchphrase for the Shadowland event is "The Battle for the Soul of New York." And I think the more we learn about Power Man, the more we come to understand that he is, in fact, the soul of New York.
And so this battle is playing out in a grand scale in the main book, and sort of microcosmically in our book, where we introduce the all-new, all-different, all-awesome Power Man.
Nrama: You say "all new," so this doesn't have anything to do with the old Power Man?
Van Lente: I didn't say that. That's an excellent point. It has quite a lot to do with Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A new Power Man comes on the scene, a hero for hire who advertises on the internet, of course, where all good classifieds can be found now. Unfortunately for him, this is not good timing for becoming a superhero in New York City, because in the areas controlled by Daredevil and The Hand, they have forbidden all, what they call, "costumes" to operate without their sanction.
So he has the Hand after him, and he also has Luke Cage and Iron Fist after him, ostensibly to save him, but also to find out who he is and what the heck he thinks he's doing. Is he going to join The Hand? Is he going to ally himself with Daredevil? Or will he ally himself with the heroes who are attempting to stop Daredevil before he goes insane with power?Nrama: You mentioned a connection to Iron Fist and Luke Cage, but is there also a connection to Bullseye?
Van Lente: Yes. I don't want to reveal too much, but let's just say Power Man's origins lie in the origins of Shadowland itself. And as those folks who read Daredevil: The List know, Bullseye is somewhat responsible for Shadowland coming about in the first place.
Nrama: Along with "all-new" and "all-different," you also said he's "all-awesome?"
Van Lente: [laughs] Well, he's all awesome because it's great to have a younger character in the Power Man role. He has a power set that I think people will find really interesting. It's sort of a logical conclusion out of something we were discussing at the summit, where Matt [Fraction] and Brian [Bendis] and Jeff [Parker] and Greg [Pak] and Jonathan Hickman and Dan Slott and all of the rest of us were sitting around the table with Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley, and we start talking about a subject that frequently comes up, and that's magic, and how to do magic in an interesting way, within the context of superheroes, as opposed to a character kind of waving his arms in the air and having some effect happen.
The point was brought up that, when Ed [Brubaker] and Matt were doing Immortal Iron Fist, Iron Fist's powers were chi-based, and that was a very active way of getting mysticism into the superhero genre.
And I came away from that thinking, hmmm... chi-based powers could be interesting. And as readers of Immortal Iron Fist know, Danny Rand has been running a School for Thunder dojo in Harlem. And The Hand seems to strongly suspect that the new Power Man is, in fact, one of Danny Rand's dojo students. And this is how Iron Fist gets drawn into this, and he brings Luke into the situation. And Luke is not apparently happy that someone has ripped off his schtick.
Nrama: You mentioned him being a young hero. So does this have a youthful feel to to it, or is it just as dark and shadowy as the rest of Shadowland?
Van Lente: One of the things I love about this series is, to me it proves that you can have "street characters" where it's not dark and foreboding. It can be fun. And "urban setting" doesn't mean it has to be a grim, noir sort of setting.
Yes, it does have a very youthful feel to it. You have a kid acquiring superpowers and donning a costume and going out there and kicking ass, and making some good money for it. It certainly beats delivering pizzas as an after-school job. His powers, like all classic Marvel characters, are rooted in tragedy. And what that tragedy is, and how it's affected his family, and how it connects to Bullseye will be explicated as the series goes along.
Nrama: You mentioned all the ties to the Immortal Iron Fist. Did you research a lot of the Marvel Universe for this?
Van Lente: I did. I immersed myself in the Luke Cage Essentials and the Iron Fist Essentials. So even though Power Man is new, he's contending with a lot of Luke Cage villains, because, as many people know, I love the old villains. The more obscure the better.
If you were looking for the return of Comanche and Shades, you need go no further than Shadowland: Power Man. And Cottonmouth, another one of my Luke Cage faves, is coming back. I have an inexplicable fondness for Discus and Stiletto, and let us not forget the greatest Luke Cage villain of all time, Cockroach Hamilton, with his six barrel shotgun.
Nrama: Are some of these going to be new versions of those characters, or are they sort of revived old villains?
Van Lente: A lot of them are revived. But he has a lot to deal with. Luke Cage is a member of a street gang called the Rivals. They're back and they're operating in Harlem, and they have a mysterious new mastermind behind them. It's a character who I'm very excited to bring back, , who I have written before, and an old Power Man and Iron Fist villain. Or is that villainess? Hmmm...
And of course he's got ninjas and Luke Cage and Danny Rand on his ass. So he's got a lot of problems.
Nrama: Are there plans for this character beyond this four-issue mini-series?
Van Lente: I find that when a character is created and somebody digs it, whether it's the company or the creators or the fans -- especially the fans -- he or she sticks around for awhile.
I've done a number of these sort of "new characters under an old name." In fact, my first job for Marvel was doing the female Scorpion for Amazing Fantasy. So I've been down this road a couple times. And it's terrific. And to also have the privilege of working on a character that I didn't create, Greg Pak did, Amadeus Cho, who was created in the last five years but has become a major part of the Marvel Universe. I certainly hope the same holds true for Power Man.
Mahmud Asrar, our terrific artist, did a great job designing this character. I had the opportunity to meet him at C2E2, and that was wonderful. We've got covers by Mike Perkins, and I got to meet him at C2E2. We're all really excited about this book. And we have high hopes that this is one of the keepers. More on Shadowland:<li><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/shadowland-power-man-100511.html>An All-New POWER MAN Bursts out of the Marvel's SHADOWLAND</a>