No, you didn’t stumble onto my The Tao of Iron Fist site. (Not yet, at least.) Much more than your average guest appearance, this issue near the end of Iron Fist’s first 15-issue series (following nearly a year’s run in Marvel Premiere, all collected here) is more like an issue of Marvel Team-Up or Marvel Two-in-One: Although it fits into Iron Fist’s ongoing storyline and follows directly on issue #11, almost the entire issue is taken up with his and Cap’s first meeting…
…and by meeting I mean fight, which gives Danny Rand a chance to marvel of Cap’s abilities, and Cap gets to find out exactly why they call him the Iron Fist.
Also, we get to see an early example of John Byrne drawing the Sentinel of Liberty (to Chris Claremont’s script), preceding Avengers #164-166 by a few months, followed later by his return to Avengers with issues #181-191 and then his stellar if short run of Cap’s own title with issues #247-255. (He also drew some X-Men and Fantastic Four stories, if I remember correctly, before crossing the street to draw the Big Blue Boy Scout.)
Here’s what you need to know: In issue #11, the villainous Wrecking Crew (not these guys) abducted Misty Knight, Iron Fist’s crime-fighting partner, and threatened to kill her unless Iron Fist helps them kill Thor, which he promises to do by getting them into Avengers Mansion. Although he hopes his good pal Iron Man will be there—ferric fellas gotta stick together, after all—he finds quite a different Avenger on duty that day.
As we see above and below, Iron Fist is hardly a known quantity as this point, and Cap’s very selective computer search definitely leaves a bad taste in his mouth. (Note he didn’t see the screen in the final panel below.)
The lesson? Search algorithms were a problem long before Google. (Just imagine what Cap would find on Tony if he cared to look!)
But Cap is not the first line of defense in Avengers Mansion… that would be Jarvis, whom Iron Fist spooks by crawling in a window rather than knocking at the front door like a normal guy in green tights.
It’s the “presumed murderer innocently hunched over the unconscious butler” scenario, and Cap plays his role perfectly (and is portrayed as extremely imposing, especially as shaded by inker Dan Adkins).
“It’s not what it looks like, Mr. Roper, honest!” <cue canned laughter> But Mr. Roper… I mean Mr. Rogers… wait, not that Mr. Rogers… sigh… Cap ain’t buyin’ it—and he has a point, considering how Iron Fist got into the mansion in the first place.
Danny gets a taste of Cap’s shieldwork, and when he goes on the offense, he finds Cap more of a challenge than he expected.
Below, Cap and Iron Fist’s fight is interspersed with the latter’s memories of the Wrecking Crew’s demands. Cap suspects Danny is not giving his all…
…while Danny admires Cap’s stealth as well as his abilities, despite his “basic” technique. (Doesn’t he know that Cap taught judo?)
Regardless, it seems basic technique is serving Cap just fine.
(For more on Mantis, see this post.)
It’s time to Danny to live up to his name, which Cap’s long and careful research apparently did not clue him in on. (And Netflix is a ways off at this point.)
What does Danny’s iron fist hitting Cap’s shield say?
Instead of asking what the shield is made of—which has yet to revealed at this point—Danny wonders what Cap himself is made of. But he finally gets a hint as to why Cap is so angry with him.
“Gotta get the big brains at Rand Corp to work on a better search engine… and talk to that new Congressman from Tennessee about that internet thing he invented!”
Maybe that “slicing edge” to Cap’s shield is a thing after all!
Danny cleverly uses this to show Cap he’s not a threat. He knows that when a situation is pointed south, Cap just can’t ignore it. (He saw the movie too, I guess.)
It seems Cap respects Danny’s move, and this ends the fight—at least, the fight between them.
So when Iron Fist signals to the Wrecking Crew that the coast is clear inside Avengers Mansion, guess who they find “knocked out” inside?
They’re not inside the mansion, but inside the Avengers’ version of the X-Men’s famous training facility, the “danger room,” and once Danny locks them all in (and locks Misty out), Cap suddenly feels better.
From here on out, it’s the Wrecking Crew versus Cap, Iron Fist, and the danger room on Thor’s training level… and once Misty forces her way inside, the winner is revealed. (And Cap is very polite, as expected.)
At the end of the day, Cap and Danny part as friends, with Cap apologizing for being too quick to judgment.
Let’s see Danny’s buddy Tony do that!
Iron Fist (vol. 1) #12, April 1977: Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Don Warfield (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist and Marvel Masterworks: Iron Fist Volume Two
ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #208, Avengers #158, and Invaders #15 (April 1977)
That’s a lot of story for just one issue! Nowadays this thing would be padded out into several chapters. No wonder I don’t read too many comic books anymore.