Power Man & Iron Fist #79
I’ve previously mentioned my love for the Jo Duffy/Kerry Gammill issues of this series, of which this issue is actually Gammill’s last. I still say the guy could have been as big in his heyday as Byrne or Perez if he was a bit more prolific and worked on some A-list books. Any issue of this run has a lot going for it, but this particular one is a gem, even if regular cover artist Frank Miller couldn’t make it this month. Instead we’re treated to the great Al Milgrom doing his best Miller impression; not exactly a masterpiece, but it still warms my heart to see Affable Al turn up.
Iron Fist’s buddy, fellow kung-fu fighter and aspiring thespian Bob Diamond, has the lead role in a play called “Day of the Dredlox”. It’s a steampunk kind of production about a Victorian scholar named A.J. Gamble who battles bizarre space monsters. Strange things are happening around the theatre, however; people have disappeared, props have been destroyed. Diamond asks his friends to investigate and soon after he also disappears. When the Heroes for Hire arrive at the theatre to investigate, they are ambushed by a small army of evil robots shaped like trash cans, rolling around on wheels with tiny mechanical arms that fire death rays, shrieking “Incinerate! Incinerate!” as they try to kill the pair. The Dredlox have come to life!
Our heroes flee the theatre with the evil aliens in pursuit. Seeking cover, they duck into a tiny book shop across the street– and are flabbergasted to discover the building is vastly bigger on the inside than out. Inside they are greeted by an odd man claiming to be the real Professor A. J. Gamble, who says that he wrote the play himself under the pen name of “Sergius O’Shaughnessy” (him again?) years ago when he needed some money, adapting a chapter from his own diary. Having later discovered his arch foes the Dredlox have broken the time barrier and are using the play as cover while they plan their conquest of Earth, he has returned to set things right.
The situation is further complicated by the Dredlox mistakenly believing that Bob Diamond is actually the real Gamble. Apparently, the Professor has changed his appearance in the past, and the aliens assume the actor is their enemy in a different incarnation. Luke and Danny have to stage a raid on the theatre to allow Gamble to sneak in with a science widget that will send the Dredlox back to their own time for good. When the fight is won Gamble disappears, along with the entire book shop that once sat across the street.
For some reason I have found this incredibly compelling character resonates with me. I’m sure if they made a television show revolving around such a character, he could most certainly clean Dara’s precious smoke monster’s clock.