This has, to be sure, been a pretty solid book from the beginning and I've enjoyed it but that enjoyment has always come with significant caveats. The first five issues were just goof-fests and while writer David Walker could do a very entertaining and mature version of Luke Cage, he seemed to have never read a single story featuring Iron Fist or Luke's wife Jessica. They were played as broad (and empty) one-note sitcom cliche's. Danny hopped around like some annoying cartoon side-kick. "Say, Luke, can we go play Power Man & Iron Fist again?! Can we?! Can we?!" Jessica existed to put in an appearance or two per issue and do a comedy henpecking of Luke, tearing into him, expressing her disapproval of Danny, of the proposed new course of action and pretty much everything else while he looked beaten and resigned. So while the book saw some entertaining plots and cool ideas, the characterizations were frequently wretched. I wrote in one of my earlier reviews of this book that I'll never get use to these characters being so profoundly out-of-character; this will either change or the book will be a failure.
The good news is that this HAS changed. Starting with #6, Walker has not only injected a much more serious tone into the book, he appears to have finally started reading up on the other characters. They're suddenly acting and sounding WAY more like themselves. And I'm liking it. A lot.
In Civil War II, the heroes are fighting and even killing one another again and this has put a bit of a black cloud over Luke and Danny, who vow to sit this one out. An apparent vigilante group called Preemptive Strike is hunting down former and current villains and their relatives. Some of their targets, led by Cockroach Hamilton (there's a name from the past!), hunt down Luke and Danny--they want the Heroes For Hire to protect them from PS. This leads to a big fight, Danny beats a cop off Little Ben Donovan, preventing an obvious Eric Garner, and ends up shipped to prison, where, he discovers, all the people who had been targeted by PS. WTF is going on? Luke, Jessica, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing and a host of others are on the case (Walker continues to make great use of large numbers of obscure Marvel characters).
The tale has brought into play the backstories of both Luke and Danny, which helps get the characterization of the latter on track--as I said, it looks like Walker finally sat down and read some Iron Fist books--and Jessica is behaving like an adult for a change and doing her investigator routine. Throw into the mix Carol "Captain Marvel" Danvers, who seems to have discovered a way to predict the future or possible futures and has assembled a team who are going around meting out preemptive punishment for future bad deeds and they've just set their eyes on Luke.
Power Man & Iron Fist #6-8 have been good, a significant raising of the bar for this book. Even Sanford Greene's artwork, with which I've often struggled, has started to grow on me. It certainly suits characters like Cockroach Hamilton (who, with Walker writing him, is hilarious). I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
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