Iron Fist #14: Snowfire
Written by: Chris Claremont
Pencils by: John Byrne
Date: August 1977
Cover tagline: White snow… white doom!
-starts with Iron Fist and a lady named Colleen are wandering around in the snow pursued by mooks. They take shelter in a cabin and flashback to the day before. The two of them are in the rockies to bodyguard some guy named Hogarth
-When they land they are immediately assaulted by Sabretooth, who has some mercenaries with him.
-Colleen immediately recognizes Sabretooth and calls him out for his reputation as a “freebooter, a modern day pirate” who will rip off anything for the right price, which Sabretooth agrees with. He tells her he’s there for her client, Hogarth, and not to make him angry or he’ll “scratch your eyes out.” He orders his mooks to lock them up, with the intention of bringing them along with the target when he leaves.
-Iron Fist beats up the mooks and takes Sabretooth by surprise. Sabretooth says he wants them brought back dead or alive.
-the flashback ends and Iron Fist takes out the mooks that are pursuing them, stealing their suits.
-Sabretooth’s keen senses see through Iron Fist’s disguise
-Sabretooth calls Iron Fist “bub” and claims he never loses. He asks his name and claims he likes to know who he’s killin’. He also says that he’s in the mood for a good fight and it’s been a long time since he’s fought anyone ‘worth the effort.
-Iron Fist specifically comments on how fast Sabretooth is and that his claws are ‘razor sharp’.
-Sabretooth deliberately lures Iron Fist outside in order to snow-blind him.
-Sabretooth taunts Iron Fist while they’re fighting. Iron Fist calls it ‘playing cat and mouse’.
-After beating him, Iron Fist claims that “if he’d had martial arts the equal of his speed and power, I doubt I could have beaten him even with my eyes.”
-very first introduction of Sabretooth
-Sabretooth’s name is written with a hyphen on the cover, Sabre-tooth, and repeatedly, but non consistently, the same inside.
-no mention of Sabretooth specifically being a mutant.
-Sabretooth’s civilian name is not mentioned yet.
-Design traits that will become consistent; blond, orange costume with a fur ruff, large sideburns, large hands with clawed fingertips,broad shoulders, sharp teeth.
-Sabretooth is drawn here with bushy eyebrows and sharp teeth. He’s big, but normal, big man big, not the size of a mac truck.
-Sabretooth is drawn with pupils here about half the time, and half without; there is a close up where he is shown with blue eyes.
-Sabretooth’s costume here is primarily orange, with black trunks. He has a fur shoulder ruff, but also fur on his costume’s forearms and lower legs. His hands are colored brown, in contrast with his face, and with the fur on the forearms it’s never made clear if the brown is meant to indicate skin tone, fur, or even clawed gloves given that no mention of him being other than human.
-He is quite clean cut and put together in this appearance, without many of the barbarian-ish traits that creep into his design later.
-Sabretooth here is ruthless, and enjoys a good fight. He is clearly violent when angry (suggesting he would scratch Colleen’s eyes out) however no specific mention is made of him being specifically bloodthirsty or murderous. However, he does agree that it’s ‘the truth’ when he’s accused of being a monster.
-Sabretooth repeatedly calls people ‘bub’, and leaves the end off of words. However he is fairly wordy and articulate, specifically referencing ‘optic nerves’ when he snow-blinds Iron Fist.
-Sabretooth fights smart, and he fights dirty, specifically luring Iron Fist out into an ambush. However, he has all the subtlety of a freight train, and is specifically untrained in martial arts. Also, while Sabretooth’s mercenaries all wield guns, Sabretooth never lays a hand on one.
Meeting Sabretooth in this issue gives off the impression of a ruthless and somewhat savage mercenary leader; one savvy and clever enough to be in charge of a squad whether his own or assigned to him by his employer (it’s never made clear). He is clean cut, articulate and put together, but mean, threatening, and all too happy to get his hands dirty on the job.
Not something I *specifically* remember happening at this juncture, but not unlikely for what I feel like I would have been up to in the late 70s. That would have been after the black ops and original weapon X days. At loose ends, doing various merc work and assassin jobs. I feel like the mercs here would have been union boys hired for the job and not my personal squad, but I am pretty sure I’ve been the boss off and on, so maybe. Iron Fist, Danny, feels familiar, in a ‘please let me punch him or maybe grab him by the shoulders and shake him’ kind of way.