In the 1970’s, Luke Cage—later Power Man—and Iron Fist represented attempts to create heroes rooted in real world trends, exploring the idea of street level adventures and the martial arts in the Marvel Universe. The two would form an unlikely but enduring team as the original Heroes for Hire.
With Luke Cage and Iron Fist firmly entrenched in the modern day as among Marvel’s most complex and popular characters and both headed to television on Netflix, we look back at their respective and shared histories as we continue to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Marvel!
Luke Cage thought he’d go it alone after the seeming death of his best friend, Iron Fist, but once Danny Rand returned to the land of the living, a full-blown Heroes for Hire reunion became inevitable.
Cage abandoned his Power Man moniker after Danny’s death and set up shop in Chicago in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #82. While he kept busy handling drug dealers in PUNISHER #60-62, the Sub-Mariner discovered Iron Fist alive but in a form of H’ylthri hibernation in NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER #22, and freed Rand to recover his lost life.
In CAGE #1, Luke joined with private eye Dakota North to form a new partnership, with their first challenge popping up in CAGE #2: a team of super villains known as the Untouchables. Iron Fist also tried solo adventuring in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #111, first against living mummies, then later joining with Ghost Rider to confront the Legion of Vengeance in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #113-116.
The former Power Man gained even more power in CAGE #6, thanks to the same process that originally granted him his abilities. That augmented strength came in handy when Luke went up against the Maggia and the criminal Hardcore beginning in CAGE #7. Still on his own, Danny battled HYDRA and Skeleton Ki in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #125, which led to a battle with the legendary Baron Strucker in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #130 and a rematch with his old foe Sabretooth in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #133.
Luke Cage’s big reunion with Iron Fist came about in CAGE #12, when Hardcore seized both Luke’s father James and his brother. Then, the evil Dr. Malus transformed James Jr. into the villainous Coldfire in CAGE #13, but he came around in CAGE #14 to become an ally. After being possessed by the weird Bogeyman in CAGE #18, Luke found the will to resist the creature and defeat him with the help of the Thing and the Human Torch in CAGE #20.
While Iron Fist aided a certain web-slinger in SPIDER-MAN #41-43, Cage joined with Dr. Druid and friends in SECRET DEFENDERS #15 versus Malachai. When Luke later left the team, Danny temporarily took his spot in SECRET DEFENDERS #18. The two heroes came together once more in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #13 to assist the wall-crawler in fighting the Scorpion and the Rhino, and Iron Fist found himself challenged by the Steel Serpent again in IRON FIST #1-2.
When Namor’s company Oracle, Inc, formed a new Heroes for Hire in HEROES FOR HIRE #1, Danny Rand joined to represent the previous incarnation. The Master kidnapped Luke Cage in HEROES FOR HIRE #2 and enlisted him to spy on the team for him. When the Controller subjugated Iron Fist, he pitted the martial artist against his best friend in HEROES FOR HIRE #4, but Danny regained his independence only to stalk off in anger in HEROES FOR HIRE #7. The Master suggested Iron Fist’s elimination to Luke in HEROES FOR HIRE #10, but Cage turned on the villain in HEROES FOR HIRE #12. Iron Fist took a break from the team in HEROES FOR HIRE #13 to go off on another solo adventure in IRON FIST #1. Danny reunited with his half-sister in IRON FIST #2, and together they destroyed the menacing H’ylthri in IRON FIST #3.
After an adventure in far-off Wundagore, Luke Cage took She-Hulk on a date in HEROES FOR HIRE #17 to convince her of the merits of ex-cons, but all together the status of the team looked bleak when the Stark-Fujikawa corporation bought Oracle, Inc, and required changes to the roster. Cage and Iron Fist, along with the others, decided to walk in HEROES FOR HIRE #19, turning their backs on their pasts and stepping out into an uncertain future.
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