Co-Plotted by: Jim Owsley (script) Mark Bright (pencils)
Herschel recently pointed out to me that, if they ever make a Hollywood movie of Power Man And Iron Fist, then the two lead-roles should really be filled by Donald Faison and Zach Braff.
I can see his point.
Ten years before Pinky and the Brain were the definitive no-hoper double-act, the titular Luke Cage and Danny Rand were arguing their way through an inspired series of character-based comicbooks, in which they were supposed to be super heroes.
Perhaps that's unkind. They were super heroes, but I don't think they were ever counted as being real super heroes.
You see, they used to charge for their services.
The name of their company - Heroes For Hire - pretty much says it all. If you've ever seen the film Mystery Men, then you'll recognise the same underclass of costumed crimefighters who just don't get the same recognition as the bigshots. When, at the start of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, the otherworldly Beyonder came and kidnapped all of Earth's (a.k.a. America's) greatest super heroes, he didn't bother with them.
On the plus side, they probably did a roaring trade while the main players were away though.
But hey - afterwards the Marvel universe moved on. Now the inevitable Secret Wars II has happened, and this time they're actually in on it.
Secret Wars II #2 saw their getting transported forwards in time a couple of days to witness their office building getting turned into gold. For Luke and Danny, it ought to have felt like December the twenty-fifth, particularly for the former, but the US government forcibly broke it all up and took it away as waste. Power Man and Iron Fist were flashed back in time to the moment from whence they had left, where they had rationalised those future minutes as being some sort of weird shared daydream.
Now however, the real world is cruelly telling them otherwise.
Power Man: "WHERE'S OUR BUILDING?!? It's GONE, Fist! Just like in that freaky dream! Y'know... the one where the Beyonder turned our office into gold! It WAS a dream right, Fist? Fist?"
Iron Fist: "Our office building is gone, my friend. Thus it seems we were not dreaming after all."
So now Luke and Danny don't even have an office to operate out of, which is far less than can be said of the Beyonder, who's just built himself yet another gigantic one, floating on the sea. To make matters worse, he insists on transporting them and the Falcon there to enthuse and show-off just how brilliant it all is.
Beyonder: "...one hundred sixty million monitor screens, covering twenty-five people each."
Falcon: "Four billion people... on camera."
Beyonder: "Exactly. Isn't it great?"
Iron Fist: "Amazing!"
Power Man: "I'm hungry!"
Due to the enormous threat to international security posed by a gigantic wall of TVs following every single person on Earth, Iron Fist and the Falcon go to SHIELD (the military) to see about getting it properly blown to bits. They assign the perpetually edgey Power Man to keep the omniscient Beyonder distracted.
Power Man: "Christmas!"
Quite why the Beyonder is even hanging-out with these guys in the first place is anyone's guess. There's a throwaway reference to his having transported them back from K'un Lun, but that scene doesn't seem to exist in any publication.
For my money, this all adds-up to the Beyonder's best guest-appearance though. Despite their subterfuge, Power Man and Iron Fist seem to be the only Marvel heroes who are not awed by him. They fearlessly treat the Beyonder as though he's a good mate, right up to and including lying to him.
Power Man takes the Beyonder out for a meal at a bar as though they do this kind of thing all the time. As it turns out, everyone else at the bar is black, including Power Man himself, so the Beyonder tries to fit in by changing the degrees of his cellular pigmentation. Yes, he turns himself black. Or, more accurately, he turns himself very black.
As you can see above, even the Marvel UK editor wants to get in on this joke, writing his own surname in over (presumably) the scripter's one.
It's all enough to even make the eternally frustrated Power Man slightly smile in the background. And Power Man rarely smiles. And he even more rarely does something slightly.
Alas, he's the only human in the narrative finding the situation funny, and a big bar bust-up quickly develops. The Beyonder seems to enjoy this, until it sinks in that the real bust-up is over at his floating super-office, and he actually has a Cage-esque rant about its futility.
Beyonder: "There is nothing I do not know. There is much I don't COMPREHEND. There is nothing I fear.
YOU fear what you don't understand. You suspect anyone who tries to help you overcome that fear. You hold your own heroes in contempt.
In trying to show you the way, I have caused you to fear me. Because you fear me, you feel you have to STOP me. In order to stop me, you felt you had to betray me.
You people are REALLY paranoid."
The issue finishes with Power Man and Iron Fist left to tread water in the wreckage of the Beyonder's blown-up seabase. Once more they are the losers.
Four issues later, their title was cancelled.