Meet Misty Knight, Shark-Punching Bionic Woman Extraordinaire

misty knightChances are you’ve completed your binge of Marvel and Netflix’s latest glorious streaming series, Luke Cage. (If you haven’t, well, you’re using a device hooked up to the internet, so what’s your excuse?  Hop aboard the hype train, because it’s damn good).  Now that we’ve settled that… My own binge-watch made clear to me that Simone Missick’s dazzling portrayal of Misty Knight was the breakout performance of the show. I happen to have been a fan of Misty’s in-panel Pan Grier glow since long before Luke Cage began brooding across broadband connections worldwide. (Forgive me, I’m being that fanboy.) Misty has always been a grade-A super-slugger femme fatale in the comics, and I’m hyped she’s been introduced to a wider audience.

Like most characters born to their distinct decades, Misty’s creation was inspired by the pop culture of the time. Conceived of in 1975 by writer Tony Isabella and artist Arvelle Jones, Misty was introduced as a bio-enhanced, karate-trained female detective, clearly inspired by both the Kung Fu craze of the ’70s and the then-current wave of blaxploitation films.  My first introduction to the character was through her time spent in the X-Men universe, where she was Jean Grey’s post-college roommate. Her standout X-Men moment came in Chris Claremont’s Classic X-Men #13, in which Misty punches a shark with her bionic arm. Needless to say, this is where I fell in love.

misty knight

Take that, pointy mouth!

Misty also appeared as a supporting character in the adventures of Power Man and Iron Fist, but it wasn’t until 2005 that she truly carved out her own super heroine niche to take the spotlight. In the five-part mini series Daughters of the Dragon, Misty teams up with old pal Colleen Wing for some rogue adventuring, and the two become a formidable duo in the Marvel universe. This series would lay the groundwork for the 2006 comic Heroes for Hire, written by Jimmy Palmiotti. The premise of the relaunched series remained the same, though with Misty accompanied by a team of femme fatales (including Spider Man’s frenemy Black Cat), helping to establish street-level resistance during the Civil War mega-crossover event.

Later, in the 2010 Daredevil event Shadowland , Misty joined ranks with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, and the rest of the street heroes to stand against a power hungry, semi-murderous Daredevil, the new leader of The Hand, who makes over Hell’s Kitchen as Shadowland. In fine Misty fashion, she kicked butt and took names later, slowly but surely imprinting on a new generation of fans.

This leads me to Misty’s most notable run, and likely where she garnered her largest number of new followers: The Fearless Defenders.

misty knight

After decades of waiting, Misty is finally leading a team, and it’s no ragtag group at that. She co-leads an all-women crew with Asgardian warrior Valkyrie. Written by the incredible Cullen Bunn, Fearless Defenders follows the duo as they assemble a new team of Valkyrior, including New Mutants fave Dani Moonstar and Amazonian Hippolyta. (known in the DC universe as the mother of Wonder Woman). The series had a short run, but was loaded with amazing character development. Valkyrie and Misty consistently learned from each other, and their relationship was a pendulum of divinity and street savvy.

“So where is Misty now?” one might ask. She can be currently found in the Nick Spencer run on Sam Wilson’s Captain America. Though she’s back in a supporting role, she’s an essential part of Sam’s team, and nothing short of astonishing, with blazing afro and bionic arm in tow.

Misty also popped up in issue #7 of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run, assisting the Wakandan ruler alongside Storm, Luke Cage, and Doctor Vodoo.

True, Misty’s keeping a low profile these days, but here’s hoping the fierce Harlemite soon gets the spotlight she deserves. A Misty Knight solo series sounds like the stuff dreams are made of, and considering Marvel has been actively listening to its black audience, it’s not the impossibility it once seemed.

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to read about a shark-punching martial artist fly enough to outshine an Asgardian goddess?!

See you on the flip side, Misty.

Follow B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy