Sometimes when I read through these old Marvel stories there’s a couple minutes where I have to think if the story was goofy or crazy enough to write up for one of these Marvel Madness posts. Other times there’s no doubt in my mind, and the second I finish the story I know that it’s going to work. And other times I know that this is going to be a solid entry like four pages into the story. And this is one of those. Plus, it features two of my favorite superheroes of all time, Like Cage and Iron Fist. I haven’t talked about Iron Fist yet here on the site, and I’ve only managed to get to Luke Cage once, so I need to do better on that. Honestly, Luke Cage comics are kind of similar to Dr. Strange stories, where I could easily do basically every story the guy participates in, because they’re all pretty insane. Plus, I love Luke and Danny so goddamn much that I could talk about them constantly. They are without a doubt my favorite friendship in comics, and the fact that Luke Cage and Jessica Jones named their daughter after Danny is one of the most adorable things of all time. But I digress. Because we aren’t really going to talk about an issue that demonstrates the wonderful bond these two men share, instead we’re going to talk about some real goofy bullshit.
The issue starts off with Luke and Danny hanging out backstage at a New York theater while getting shown around by Bob Diamond. I’m not overly familiar with Diamond, I know that he was from Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu with Shang-Chi, but all we need to know about him for this is that he’s a famous actor, he knows kung fu, and he’s a friend of Danny’s. Turns out Diamond is getting ready to star in a big play called “Day of the Dreadlox” where he’s a goofy time-traveling scientist who fights deadly robots. Hmm. Sounds familiar. But that doesn’t really pop off for a while, right now we just focus on Danny and Luke checking out the intricate props that will play the robots in the play. They comment on how realistic they look, but then head out to accompany Diamond to a party. And as they leave we see an incredibly hostile janitor who is complaining about how no one gives him any respect. At that point I kind of assumed we were in for a Scooby Doo thing, where this janitor faked an evil robot attack. But then this happened.
Whoops. Guess the janitor didn’t do it. Anyway, let’s check out our heroes. We unfortunately don’t get to see Danny and Luke go to a fancy actor party in their superhero outfits, and instead jump ahead to the next morning where they’re each doing their own thing. Luke Cage is hanging out with DW, the hippie that runs the crappy movie theater Cage lived in, and Danny is sparring with Diamond, talking about his upcoming show. And once their separate journeys are over they meet back at their Heroes for Hire headquarters where Diamond has a mission for them. Apparently there have been a series of mysterious disappearances at the theater, and he wants Luke and Danny to investigate. Luke assumes that Diamond is making all of this up, and just wants the Heroes for Hire to investigate the show to drum up publicity. But that doubt gets quickly squashed when they leave the building that their office is in an they almost get assassinated.
Luke and Danny are walking Diamond out of the office when suddenly laser blasts just start firing at them. Diamond runs for his life while Iron Fist starts running around the crowded street, getting civilians out of the way. Luke on the other hand is ripping the doors off cars for shields and is running through the streets trying to find the source of the laser-fire. Unfortunately that path just leads to an empty alley, and no assassins. Luke then has to eat crow, and admit to Diamond that there might actually be something to his mysterious disappearances. We then see Luke and Danny having some awkward sitcom shtick where they both bring dates back to Misty Knight’s apartment. It’s goofy but it does lead to a lot of fun friendship stuff between Luke and Danny. However, their evening is cut short when they get a call from Diamond that there is something horrible going on at the theater. So Danny and Luke head over, and are immediately attacked by those prop robots from earlier.
They sure weren’t expecting that. However, Luke’s hot head gets the better of him, and he decides to just march over and destroy the robots, since Diamond had ensured them that they were props. Danny has realized that things are amiss though, and drops Luke to the floor right as one of the death ray blasts would have hit him in the head. And when they see the damage that the ray does to the wall behind them, they realize that things are much worse than they thought they were going to be, and they decide to do the only thing they can do. Run away. Luke and Danny turn tail and run as fast as they can, trying to lose the robots in the backstage of the theater. They end up getting caught in a dead end however, and have to battle the robots a bit. Which is when these squat, trash-can shaped robots that fire death rays begins screeching out the word “Incinerate.” Hmm. This sounds familiar. I just can’t quite put my finger on it…
However, after a bit of fighting they realize that they’re too outnumbered, and decide to continue running. They manage to find a back door to the theater, and book it out into the streets, which are pretty deserted since it’s the middle of the night. But they know they need to find a place to hide, so they begin scoping out the neighborhood and end up finding a little bookstore that appears to be open. So they burst inside, and things start to get downright wacky. Because inside they find a campy British man in an outlandish outfit, who seems to have been expecting both them and the Dreadlox, and tells them that his name is Professor Gamble. Oh, and he also has knowledge of time travel and his bookstore is “bigger on the inside.” Hey, wait a minute.
Yeah, Luke Cage and Iron Fist just ran into Doctor Goddamn Who. Oh, and that play that Diamond is in that started the whole thing? Well, it’s based on this guy. But the Heroes for Hire didn’t just meet a fictional character, no, this is far more complicated. Apparently Professor Gamble is an actual time traveling adventurer who fights the villainous race of robots known as the Dreadlox. He wrote a play about himself and delivered it to the 1980’s, I guess on a lark. However, this ended up drawing the attention of the Dreadlox, giving them a perfect place to hide, since there would be props for them to impersonate. I really don’t understand what the Dreadlox plan exactly is, but they’re currently stuck in 1982, and they need some of Professor Gamble’s technology to escape. So they’ve been kidnapping random people at the theater in order to force him into trading the hostages for his technology.
I think. Listen, this issue gets super complicated around this point, but I do know that Professor Gamble has created some sort of device that will send the Dreadlox back to their own time, they just need to get it to their time machine, which should be inside the theater. So, Luke heroically volunteers Iron Fist to use his ninjitsu skills to sneak into the theater and get them a way in. Danny then does just that, gets into the theater, and uses his Iron Fist to punch down a wall, letting Luke and Gamble get in with the device.Luke and Danny hold off the Dreadlox, destroying as many as they can, while Gamble sets his device up and activates it, throwing the Dreadlox through time, and out of their hair. At which point Gamble promptly vanishes as well, along with that bookstore he’s been working out of. Just in time for Diamond and the police to show up, giving Luke and Danny no evidence of what the hell they just went through.
I love this issue so goddamn much. I had heard about it, vaguely, over the years, and was thrilled to check it out. However, when I had heard of it I had only known the fact that Luke and Danny beat up knock-off Daleks. I had no idea that they straight up meet Doctor Who, go into his TARDIS, and then battle Daleks. That’s ridiculous. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t belong in this world. The Marvel universe has races of evil robots, and it has time travel, so why shouldn’t this plot happen? The Avengers deal with Kang all the time, so it stands to reason that a straight up Time Lord could show up. I love Luke Cage, I love Danny Rand, and I love Doctor Who, so of course this issue was a complete winner in my eyes. We had some solid Danny and Luke friendship stuff, some fun action, and all the insane Doctor Who stuff. I mean, this issue posits that in the Marvel universe they were able to sustain a Doctor Who play on Broadway starring a well-known Hollywood actor, which is absolutely amazing.
Power Man and Iron Fist #79 was written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Kerry Gammill, inked by Ricardo Villamonte, lettered by Jim Novak, and colored by Christie Steele, 1982.