Interview: Fred Van Lente on Power Man and Iron Fist

Imagine Bruce Lee and John Shaft joining forces. That was the brilliant but unlikely idea struck upon in 1977 when Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the creators of Marvel's kung fu hero Iron Fist, took over the series of Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, the tough-talking, street-wise, baaaad ass mutha (shut your mouth!) and promptly paired the two. The creative team soon moved on to a little book called X-Men, but they left the series in the capable hands of creators such as Mary Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, Kurt Busiek, and James Owsley (AKA Christopher Priest), who kept the duo going for more than 75 issues.

Luke Cage has since moved on to stardom in the pages of Avengers and Thunderbolts, and Iron Fist was relaunched in a critically acclaimed series by the likes of Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja. But Luke no longer calls himself Power Man, and Danny found himself in need of a new partner. Writer Fred Van Lente filled both gaps in the recent Shadowland: Power Man limited series, which introduces a brand new Power Man, Victor Alvarez, a teenager from the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, who gains access to the mysterious chi power that gives Danny Rand the fist he's famous for, and uses that power in ways Danny never dreamed of. Now the two return in February in the new ongoing Power Man & Iron Fist. I spoke with Fred to get the scoop on how this odd couple intends fill the shoes of the original.


Matt Adler: This series features the Iron Fist we all know and love, but a new Power Man, who debuted in your Shadowland: Power Man miniseries. How did you come up with the new Power Man?

Fred Van Lente: Marvel asked me to come up with a new character. Their original idea was that he was a little kid who trained with Iron Fist at his dojo, School of Thunder. But I went in a slightly different direction. For one thing, I thought PM should be a bit older, a teenager, so our readers could identify with him more. The idea he could absorb chi and make things explode when he punches them came out of a lot of the discussions we have at the Marvel Summits about way to make magic more active in the 616.

But where he really came together was when we gave a few sentences to artist Mahmud Asrar and he whipped up such an amazing design that retains elements of the classic Power Man look like the chain and just really blew everybody away. I didn't know how to write the character until I saw that drawing!
MA: What's the relationship like between Power Man and Iron Fist as the series opens? What leads them to form a partnership?

FVL: That's detailed pretty thoroughly in Shadowland: Power Man. Basically, Iron Fist sees Power Man as a source for great good — and destruction, so he wants to keep an eye on him. Power Man undergoes a mystical experience that leads him to think he needs some coaching. How much coaching Power Man needs is a source of interminable bickering between them, though.
MA: Will the events of Shadowland have a direct impact on this series?

FVL: Not really. You don't need to read that to read this one. We're forging our own path with a new supporting cast, new villains — and a few classic characters from the original PM&IF run.  

MA: What kind of tone are you going for here?

FVL: It's serious, but fun. I don't see why a street-level vigilante book has to be mired in angst and doom.
MA: What will the focus be to begin with? Are there more mysteries to be revealed about the source of Power Man's power?

FVL: No, we covered that ground pretty thoroughly in Shadowland: Power Man. This arc is called "Men of Mystery" and is about Power Man and Iron Fist being not-for-profit private detectives through Danny's Rand Foundation. Their first case is a doozy: Figure out who murdered Crime-Buster, a crooked hero-for-hire. The case is made all the more important for Danny because the person falsely convicted of the crime is his ex-secretary from the original PM&IF series, Jennie Royce.  

MA: Wellington Alves is the artist; what makes him right for this book?

FVL: He's bringing great moodiness to the series, real street-level mood, and he's doing a great job designing Vic and Danny's new adversaries: Pagliacci and the murderous Commedia dell'Morte, Pokerface, the world's greatest gambler, and the beautiful and mysterious vigilante who calls herself Noir.

MA: Do you have plans for a big supporting cast?

FVL: Yup. Joy Meachum, from the original IRON FIST series, is back to fill to void in Danny's life left by Misty Knight — or is she? And Victor's family from Shadowland returns, as well as a new love interest.

MA: What kind of role will Luke Cage play, if any?

FVL: Very little. He has plenty to do on his own!  

MA: Iron Fist is also appearing in the new Heroes For Hire; have you been coordinating with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning? Any thoughts of a crossover?

FVL: Only in the sense we're avoiding stepping on each other's toes.
MA: What role do you see this book playing in the Marvel Universe?

FVL: It's the classic mismatched buddy superhero book — ethereal, rich Iron Fist matched with streetwise, headstrong Power Man, with the gulf between Danny and Vic Alvarez's ages now added.
MA: Any other work of yours readers should keep an eye out for?

FVL: I'm working on a bunch of stuff I just can't talk about right now, I'm afraid. But they're big! Big, I tells ya!


Matt Adler summons his chi to make his fist like unto a thing of wet noodles.


  1. I haven’t been looking forward to a new ongoing in quite some time. The Shadowland Power Man mini was utter bliss…the best thing to come out of Shadowland.

  2. Will read it!

  3. Looking forward to it.

  4. So Iron Fist is getting a paycheck in Avengers and Heroes for Hire plus being a wealthy industrialist?

    Doesn’t seem all that zen.

  5. I’ve been waiting for the true Heroes for Hire (Luke & Danny) to star in their own series again since Bendis brought Luke back in the Avengers. This revamp’d version is a bit of a disappointment . . . 

  6. I’m really looking forward to this one!  Though I thought it was just a mini.

  7. Fred Van Lente writes such great comics, I’m really looking forward to this! 😀

  8. Van Lente does write great comics.

    Which is why I was suprised that this was so awful.

    From the race card being played every 2 mins to the lack of credit he gives the new Power Man
    for intelligence written off as black pride – it smacks of being written by a much older man and well very white.

    Plus some of the inconsistencies in the art – make this very dissapointing indeed.