Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
Max Robinson is reading…
Power Man and Iron Fist #1
Written by David Walker
Art by Sanford Greene
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“Oh man, I didn’t even say anything.”
If this first issue says only one thing, it’s “Power Man and Iron Fist are back!” The original PM/IF run under the stewardship of Chris Claremont and, later, Mary Jo Duffy, was one of Marvel’s most underrated Bronze Age gems: not only a notably diverse comic for its time, but a uniquely fun one with a cool level of grit and grime. Walker and Greene’s new #1 does a nice job of evoking the original series while staying true to the characters Luke Cage and Danny Rand have grown into in the decades since their original title wrapped.
Sanford Greene’s new character designs for the duo capture the spirit of the new title in a nutshell: Iron Fist’s new tracksuit-inspired duds feel like a new-yet-natural visual direction for the character, while Cage’s button up shirt and vest combo is a nice middle ground between his ridiculous ’70s costume and the street clothes he’s usually saddled with. While Greene’s facial expressions occasionally bug me on a few pages, his work here is animated and fluid in a way a book like this really should be. Greene’s pages really remind me of Skottie Young’s line work, but thankfully a little more understated.
On the script end, Walker does a really admirable job of acknowledging the long history of these characters in a way that doesn’t feel stilted. The (seeming) plot going forward revolves around an existing supporting character/plot point (last seen in Fred Van Lente and Wellington Alves’ superb PM/IF mini-series from 2010) that’s a cool nod to longtime fans but also easily understandable by new ones. I genuinely dig how Walker seems to be creating an actual reason for Cage and Iron Fist to re-start Heroes for Hire rather than coasting on “hey these characters back together in their own title again.” I also like how genuinely funny this issue is from top to bottom, from Luke throwing shade at Tombstone’s “weird whisper talking” to Walker’s tweaked characterization of Iron Fist as a weird zen goofball to the visual running gag of bystanders constantly taking photos of our heroes.
The bottom line is that Power Man and Iron Fist #1 is thankfully not a greatest hits compilation but rather a weird new studio album from your old favorite band. It’s a real good time and a must-read if you’re a fan of these characters.
Sarah Register is reading…
Bitch Planet #7
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Valentine De Landro and Kelly Fitzpatrick (colors)
Letters by Clayton Cowles
“Do you hate your Fathers, to punish them so?”
It’s amazing to witness a machine like Bitch Planet gain speed as it barrels into a new year. The last two issues have had the strongest overall concepts in the series so far, with achingly powerful themes carrying the story from the first page to the final essay at the end. This installment ditches the violent brawls leading up to the Thunderdome-esque epic fight, Megaton, and instead focuses on its aftermath as everyone circles the drain that is the loss of Meiko Maki.
The archetype of the Strong Black Female has been felt throughout the first arc of this series, but a beautiful accompanying essay by Angelica Jade Bastién discusses the damage that can be dealt by this stereotype (especially when black female comic book characters are still dealing with this shit) which some may consider positive. This issue finds Penny and Kamau pressed down on the floor of the showers under the weight of Meiko’s death, emphasizing that these take-no-shit women, while physically powerful, can still be torn down emotionally and it doesn’t make them any less Strong.
The image of Kamau’s incredibly muscular physique and Penny’s “Born Big” body sitting naked is more striking in this issue somehow. The Fathers have populated the prison with pink female AI aides in bondage-wear, implying this as the preferred female ideal despite the guards leering behind the shower walls. Valentine de Landro again does an amazing job playing with contrasting imagery to reveal insidious microaggressions that tend to get me riled as I read the issue. Even Kelly Fitzpatrick’s vintage coloring techniques emphasize these dated ideals.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s essay in this issue, while again reaching the same conclusion that she has before (that BP doesn’t necessarily hold the answers), felt incredibly timely as she harped on hate groups, which according to today’s headlines, dramatically increased in number last year. It just goes to show how utterly relevant and important this comic continues to be.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!