Iron Fist #14 debut of Sabretooth

Iron Fist #14: Snowfire
Written by: Chris Claremont
Pencils by: John Byrne
Date: August 1977

Cover tagline: White snow… white doom!

Issue Summary

-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.”

Continuity

-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.

Appearance 

-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.

Personality

-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.

Thoughts

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.

Kin thoughts

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.

Weight, weight, don’t tell me

For years I have had to worry that my experience of gender– being non-binary/genderqueer, and  having gender dysphoria– are secretly related to my weight and body image. 

Being AFAB I have always worried that if I became thin– if I had a socially acceptable appearing female body– that I would enjoy my experience of gender as a woman; that my long-experienced genderqueer flips between masculine and feminine would stop on the feminine side. 

I have gone from my highest weight of 340lbs, to  298 lbs in March of 2020, to 221 today in March 2021. I am still far from my intended final goal, but I can already see and feel major changes in my body. I feel better about myself when I look in the mirror. I am feeling happy about my body, and looking forward to how it will look, and what I’ll be able to do with it when I’m done.

I had been in a very feminine ‘flip’ for almost all of 2019-2020, but have been feeling male in the last few months now, since autumn. This weekend, I bought a pair of mens jeans in a size that’s a new low for me since high school. Today, a t-shirt I ordered– an XL, not a 3XL or 4Xl like when I started my journey– came in the mail, and I tried it on, along with the jeans. Looking in the mirror I was excited about how masculine I look. I found myself thinking that in a few months or a year, I’ll probably be able to rock that overplayed hipster dude skinny-jeans and t-shirt with a sports jacket look. 

And that’s when it hit me that I wasn’t just losing weight so I could look more like a girl. So that I could buy nicer girls clothes. It’s not women’s clothes I’m daydreaming about right now.

Losing this weight has shown me that my experience of gender is a part of myself that is its own thing, and not part and parcel of my experience of having a fat body. It has answered a question that has messed with my self-esteem for more than a decade. 

No, I’m not just genderqueer because I’m fat. 

I’m genderqueer because I’m genderqueer. And I’m stoked about that.

Cooking=Science=Magic

Ridiculously pleased with myself today. I made homemade mayonnaise; pretty much on a whim! I realized we didn’t have any for my sandwiches for dinner right *after* my grocery order arrived. But! I had all the ingredients for it in my kitchen.

So, for the very first time, I made homemade mayo! It tastes good! It’s a little strong since I only had olive oil in the kitchen, and not something more neutral but I’m especially pleased because the emulsion didn’t break at all! 

My arm is hella tired but this is definitely something I’m going to do again on purpose.

Goodbye 2020

In this house the last hours of 2020 were spent quietly watching movies, and looking forward to the new year. We watched some old Soviet new years films, The Carnival Night, and The Irony of Fate, as well as some old soviet propaganda films in between. We also re-watched The Nut Job and the Lorax cartoon as it go closer to midnight and our attention span wandered.

We made Kortofelnaya Zapekanka for dinner, and had a lovely ‘snack tray’ of pickles and olives, sausage, Camembert cheese, topiko roe, deviled eggs and cookies. And a little vodka 😉 Surprisingly, we managed to make it all the way to midnight, and toasted the arrival of 2021 with champagne and a kiss.

Bad Puns

I have a memory that popped into my head recently, for no easily discernible reason. It is a memory of something that would become one of my personal trademarks; an incredibly forced pun based on environmental signage/text. This memory is perhaps the first time in my life where I consciously recognized that a joke I had made was, to put it lightly, extremely labored. 

In the memory, I am around 9 years old, which would make the year 1995.Summertime, it’s warm, and sunny out, but not so warm that I remember complaining about the heat. I am playing outside of my friend Laura’s house. We are playing pretend, with a number of dolls and toys. I don’t remember exactly what the game was, but in the memory I am holding a yellow stuffed duck, a “Beanie Baby” called Quackers, which at the time I was very fond of.

Laura is tall for our age, gawky, with a long, oval face covered in a starfield of freckles, with a cascade of ruler-straight bright red hair that I am positive had never been cut, only trimmed to make the bottom even. I remember at the time always feeling jealous of that hair.

We’re playing on the sidewalk, because the house Laura’s mother (Susan, a tall, gawky masseuse with a thatch of curly black hair) owned, like the rest of the houses on the street, butts right up with its front against the narrow road. The little space between the front door and the sidewalk is overtaken by large and rather wild flower bushes, that attract fat, fuzzy bumblebees, of which I am irrationally afraid. It is a city side street, on a steep hill, and almost no one drives down it aside from the people who live there. Neither of us are particularly worried about being run over while we play.

There is, however, a small commercial truck there. I don’t recall if it had just pulled in, or if it had been idling when we arrived outside to play. In either case, it is somewhat precariously braked a couple of houses down from where we’re playing. I don’t remember, or perhaps didn’t know, what exactly the truck was for. Looking back, I suspect it was a moving truck, or perhaps installing some appliance. 

On the side of the truck was emblazoned the name “Hurtz”.

As I said, I don’t remember the context of the game we were playing beyond ‘pretend’, but I suspect it may have been a general babydoll/playing house game. Either way, when I saw the truck, the connection between ‘Hurtz’ the name, and ‘hurts’ the verb popped into my head and demanded to be shared with the world.

I don’t remember if I said it out loud, or if it stayed in my head. I suspect it might have stayed in my head, because I don’t remember Laura’s reaction to it.

“Mommy, mommy!” said Quackers the duck, using my voice as I waved him around in my hands, “It hurtz, it hurtz!”

In that moment I was suddenly, terribly aware that thoughts could be not as amusing as they were when I had them initially. It was a loss of humor based innocence.

And that…. Pun?…wordplay?….mistake?… was so memorably forced and bad, that I still occasionally cringe about it 25 years later.  I do wonder if I managed to restrain myself from saying it, since I usually let them out, albeit I didn’t have such a finely honed sense of ironic terribleness at nine. Contrariwise I was a very serious and sincere child. So I wonder. But either way, I guess it’s thanks to that awful pun that I remember that otherwise pleasant summer moment, so, it certainly isn’t all bad. Just a bit labored.