Marvel Team-Up #63

 Title: Marvel Team-Up
 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 11 Aug 2021
 Staff: Keith Moore (E-Mail)

Background

Danny Rand is a martial arts expert who channels his chi in order to summon the mystical powers of the Iron Fist. To this point in Spider-history, he has only had two interactions with the web-slinger. The first was in Marvel Team Up #31 where he and Spidey battled Drom the Backwards Man. Later, Peter and MJ came across the Iron Fist battling members of the Gold Tiger's crew in Iron Fist #8.

Despite their two (relatively brief) encounters, Spider-Man and Iron Fist consider themselves allies. Marvel Team Up #63 features the third interaction between these two heroes and suffice to say there are challenges ahead!

Story 'Night of the Dragon'

  Marvel Team-Up #63
Summary: Spider-Man & Iron Fist (vs. Steel Serpent)
Editor: Archie Goodwin
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils: John Byrne
Inker: David Hunt
Cover Art: Dave Cockrum

The story opens with Iron Fist training alone inside his home, concerned not only that he has lost his fighting edge but also that he had been ambushed by a mysterious figure in recent weeks. Thus he pushes himself to train even harder to be prepared for a potential attack. Soon after, there's a knock at the door so Danny Rand quickly shifts from his Iron Fist attire to his civilian clothes. When he opens the door he's greeted by Peter Parker, who is there on assignment for the Daily Bugle doing a photo-spread on the Rand house. Danny had forgotten about the appointment, but nevertheless let's Peter inside to do the photo shoot.

On his way inside, Peter hands Danny a parchment scroll that was stuck in his door. Peter dismisses it as nothing (probaby just a supermarket flyer he says), but Rand realizes that it is something much more sinister. Rand unrolls the parchment and finds a formal challenge in single combat to the death from the Steel Serpent. He realizes that it was the Steel Serpent who had ambushed him and drained his chi a few weeks prior, however Rand knows he cannot back down from this formal challenge without being branded as a coward.

Preoccupied with this looming threat, Rand makes a quick excuse to dodge Peter's photo assignment and then sends the photographer out the door. Peter realizes that something is not quite right (why wouldn't he, he's used that trick a thousand times). So he switches over to his Spider-Man costume and fires a Spider-tracer on to the cab Rand uses to leave his home.

The story then takes a brief interlude to check in on Misty Knight, who is on an undercover assignment for the DA posing as the Bushmaster's girlfriend. When she gets wind (overhearing a phone call by the Bushmaster) that the Iron Fist will soon be killed, she breaks cover and forces the information out of the Bushmaster. She then high-tails it off of his yacht.

As Spider-Man, Peter attempts to track down Rand, who was instructed to meet the Steel Serpent at a park between the Hudson Parkway and the river. It does not take long for the Steel Serpent and Iron Fist to confront each other, and after an initial bow the two martial arts masters prepare to begin combat. They're pretty evenly matched at the start, as the two trade blows and insults.

Soon after, Spider-Man is able to find the two combatants in the park, and while perched atop a tree limb he sets his automatic camera to snap photos of the duel. After witnessing Iron Fist begin to succumb to the Steel Serpent's attack, the web-slinger decides to intervene. However, Spidey's attack is easily deflected as the Serpent sends Spider-Man careening into a nearby tree. Spider-Man is shocked by how easily the Serpent had tossed him aside. Upset by the attack on his ally, Iron Fist charges the Serpent with renewed vigor. But the Steel Serpent uses this momentum against the Iron Fist and quickly subdues him. Then in a flash of blinding light, the Steel Serpent drains the Iron Fist of his powers.

At that moment, Misty Knight arrives on the scene, prepared to attack the Steel Serpent if he doesn't unhand Iron Fist. The Serpent complies, saying there's no honor in killing the powerless man. He then walks off into the night. Leaving the barely alive Iron Fist in the arms of Misty Knight. Spider-Man, having just pulled himself together as well, joins them.

The story ends on a somber note as the fate of the Iron Fist remains in question.

General Comments

This story was a fun little ride, albeit not really much of a Spider-Man story. That's not meant as a criticism, but it is worth mentioning when you're writing these reviews for a Spider-Man website. The main thrust of the story is that of Iron Fist and his duel with the Steel Serpent, Spidey's role is ancillary at best. So the book feels like an Iron Fist book, with a Spider-Man cameo.

That being said, the battle between the Steel Serpent and Iron Fist is pretty compelling as the villain's dominance in strength makes him a fierce opponent. The Serpent even tossed Spidey aside like he was a dirty dishrag. With the Steel Serpent's dominating performance I was intrigued enough to go ahead and read the conclusion to this story (ie, Marvel Team Up #64 to see how he was defeated...so that says something about the tension that was built up in this one.

Also, this story was aided by Misty Knight's love for Danny being on full display. First, the moment she hears Danny may be in trouble, she immediately puts her undercover mission aside to help him. And the final panels, with Rand's unconscious body in her arms bring some emotional weight to the story. Of course her back-and-forth with the Serpent over releasing Danny's body was priceless. He claims that the bullets in her gun will do little to stop him, she tells him there's no bullets in this gun as she blasts a rock to pieces using the fire-blast that emerged from her gun. The Serpent then made the smart choice and left the scene, not bothering to challenge Misty any further.

Obviously I'm biased and would have liked to see Spider-Man play a bigger role in this one, but it was still an enjoyable read regardless.

Overall Rating

This one was pretty entertaining, and it's always fun to see a duel between Kung Fu masters. 3 Webs.

 Title: Marvel Team-Up
 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 11 Aug 2021
 Staff: Keith Moore (E-Mail)