This miniseries started off strong, but now it’s difficult to find its tone amidst the betrayal, the jokes, and the threats of death. It’s still enjoyable, but it’s a little all over the place. Our titular heroes are working their way towards an auction of silence to find the bad guys and to clear the name of Danny Rand’s old secretary. They find what they want, in a way, but seem obviously outclassed.
The pairing between Rand and Victor Alvarez works to great effect in some places. In other places, the younger partner needs to be forced into scenes with a comical shoehorn and a fistful of cooking grease. There are only so many excuses you can have for the poor young black kid to turn up at events which the rich influential white man is naturally invited. The disparity is used effectively in some places but glossed over in others.
The main villain of the piece, Pokerface (a man who had a furnace poker shoved through his brain and thus no longer processes emotion), is billed as a worthy adversary. He matches the planning of Power Man and Iron Fist and uses technology and brains to get his own way. But that doesn’t make it any easier to take considering he has a poker sticking out of his left eye. It’s just too silly and much how a recent Bat-villain with a hole in her head turned people away (though somewhat based in fact), so too will Pokerface sour readers. It brings an absurd element but not one that elevates this comic.
Fred Van Lente works well to slowly escalate the danger and the suspense in this issue. Pokerface captures each of the main leads and works mind games to get what he wants from them no matter how they react. It’s somewhat overly clever and yet it still works to make each dramatic scene feel real. The psycho-hallucinogenically altered homeless people standing in as cannon fodder is either going too far or a stroke of genius. Like a haunted house painting, it will depend on your mood and angle.
Wellington Alves and Pere Perez don’t always deliver in a similar style, but overall it’s enough to be able to ignore the disparities. The fight between Power Man and the drugged out hobos is played like a video game quite well. Bruno Hang’s colors don’t get in the way, and every page feels safe if not quite a masterpiece.
This title is working along at a satisfying pace but from the looks of things this won’t become a definitive tale any time soon. It’s fun, and quirky, and definitely to be enjoyed. But it squarely aims for being low art rather than high, which is a mild shame considering we know what Iron Fist can be like when taken seriously.