The Defenders, back in the day, didn’t include Luke Cage and Danny Rand. Dr Strange originally formed the team to defend threats on a grander scale, while Power Man and Iron Fist formed the Heroes for Hire and fought street-level villainy. That all changed in the mid 90’s when Dr Druid took over the Secret Defenders and shuffled the roster. Oddly enough, it also included Drax the Destroyer and USAgent. That lineup was short lived, but Netflix shuffled the deck with their assorted Marvel shows, and the lineup was codified in comic continuity in 2017.
Luke was subjected to assorted unethical experimental treatments in prison, and walked out with unbreakable skin and enhanced strength. A fairly pedestrian power set, the strength (hah!) of the character has always been who he is, rather than what he can do. More grounded that most, Luke’s outlook on life and commitment to doing what’s right rather than what’s expedient (or even what’s legal) has made him one of the more engaging characters in comics today, and even landed him the leadership role in the New Avengers after Captain America was assassinated (he got better…)
Danny’s past is a little more complicated and honestly, doesn’t sit as well with modern audiences as it did in the less-culturally-sensitive 70’s. As great as some of Iron Fist’s arcs have been (especially the Immortal Iron Fist arc from the mid 2000’s that introduced the Seven Cities of Heaven and their champions), the “white saviour” trope is a thing. Danny’s an orphaned millionaire who was raised in the mysterious city of K’un- Lun and succeeded in defeating the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying to become the Iron Fist, a master of martial arts who can channel his chi into his fists to strike with explosive force. It wasn’t until the aforementioned Immortal Iron Fist series that we got to get a real look at -why- K’un-Lun had a ritual challenge that threw their temple students against a dragon, and insight into the champions that came before Danny. I highly recommend the series.
One small sprue, one enormous sprue for Danny’s dragon punch, a sheet of standard tokens and yup, some cardboard rectangles to enhance your gaming shenaniganry. K’un-Lun Training lets an allied character spend 4 power to reroll all attack dice. This takes place after the Modify step, so it can potentially undo any of your opponent’s messing with your attack dice. Kick ‘Em While They’re Down is costs 2 power, and lets you pick any enemy character. For the remainder of the round, all allied characters can reroll a number of attack dice based on how many special conditions the target currently has. For the right squad, this could be brutal. Heroes For Hire is the only card that directly requires Luke Cage or Iron Fist. For 2 power, when a model is targeted and either of our heroes is within R3, Luke or Danny jumps to within R1 of the allied character and takes the hit. If the attack doesn’t daze them, they then throw the attacker S away. Well, I imagine Luke throws them. Danny probably kicks them really hard.
Luke’s sprue is about as straightforward as they come, give me a chance to mess up assembly 😉 The only challenge – mild as it is – is lining the girder up properly in the recess on on scree piece. It’s a shaped socket, but a shallow one that isn’t easy to feel when wiggling the girder to align it.
Assembled, Luke is every bit the immovable object we’d expect him to be, though of course I was assembling four models at the same time and didn’t notice until after photos were taken that I hadn’t jammed the torso piece quite far enough down onto the legs, giving me a little gap under the belt. I’ll have to fix that before I prime him.
Where Luke’s sprue was straightforward, Iron Fist’s is a tad more tricksy. Danny himself assembles with shaped parts that fit perfectly, but the tail of the dragon is a little more challenging. The strip that secures to the base is very thin in itself, limiting contact surface. The two little offshoots – parts 8 and 9 on the sprue – provide extra stability and base contact, but they themselves have very slender connections to the main tail. You can see one of them just to the left of where the bottom of the tail connects to the sprue. Tres fiddly, but I believe in you. You got this.
Fully assembled, the model looks pretty sweet. I recall when looking at the promo photos and box art I had misgivings, especially about the angle of his legs, but in person it looks much better. I suspect that this is one of those models that just has a very difficult to find Golden Angle for photography. He centers nicely over the base, is well supported, and he’ll be a lot of fun to paint – especially for those who can swing some sweet glowy OSL off the dragon itself.
We’ll take a closer look at Danny and Luke’s own cards once they’ve cleared the painting table, but your FLGS should be all set to get these two Heroes For Hire into your hands. Hit up your store or preferred online retailer, and start that email campaign for Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. 😉