Among the many supporting characters who populate Luke Cage‘s massive stage, Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick) plays a particularly significant role. She’s there at Harlem’s Paradise when Cage’s brief stint as bartender introduces him to many of the villains for the first time. Following several prominent murders, she pursues Cage as a person of interest and occasional suspect. And when the show’s flashiest threat reveals itself, Misty does her best to keep the people of Harlem safe.
Aside from longtime fans of Hero for Hire and later Marvel comics featuring the character, audiences probably won’t realize just how important Misty Knight is. Like fellow Luke Cage cast member Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, Missick’s Knight adds additional connections between Marvel’s growing television universe. And since the comics offer current and future showrunners plenty of material with which to extend the detective’s presence, and judging by Netflix’s willingness to consider a spin-off, it’s likely we’ll be seeing Misty again soon.
But who is Misty Knight, really? To Luke Cage viewers, she’s just another supporting character with her own story arc whose path happens to cross with the chief protagonist. To longtime fans of the ’70s Marvel comics that birthed its blaxploitation and martial arts-enthused stories, however, she’s more than just a police detective in Harlem. Knight was one of Marvel’s first African-American heroines (her inaugural appearance in March 1972 beat Storm’s Giant-Size X-Men #1 debut by over three years), and her bionic right arm has guided her through thick and thin ever since.
While Tony Isabella’s Marvel Premiere #21 features Misty’s nominal entry into the pages of Marvel Comics, it wasn’t until Iron Fist #5 that writer Chris Claremont transformed the New York cop into the character readers know and love. That’s when her ill-fated encounter with a bomb at a bank, and her resolve to try and remove the device before it exploded, resulted in the loss of her right arm. Knight survived the blast, but her disability (and Claremont’s ’70s-era ableist interpretation of disability) took her off the street and put her behind a desk.
There she stayed until, fed up with being kept off the street, Misty quit the force and opened her own business as a private investigator. Called Knightwing Restorations, Ltd., she operated the firm with her friend and fellow Daughters of the Dragon member Colleen Wing, who’ll be making an appearance in Iron Fist. The pair would often team up (and sometimes compete) with fellow “heroes for hire” Cage and Danny Rand, and thanks to a bionic arm gift by either Reed Richards or Tony Stark (depends on which comic/writer you’re reading), Misty had no trouble keeping up.
Misty and Collen kept in touch, personally and professionally, off and on throughout multiple iterations and retcons in later comics. This included Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Daughters of the Dragon run in 2006, which saw the pair working as bounty hunters instead of PIs. The former cop also dated, got engaged to, and almost had a child with Rand in various stories conceived by Claremont and others.
What To Read
A few particular comics and issues featuring the Misty Knight character have already been noted above, but they’re worth mentioning again. As are several other notable appearances made by the character in comic books both old and new. One that isn’t worth your time, however, is Roy Thomas’ Marvel Team-Up #1, the 1972 story in which an unnamed woman was later identified as Knight in successive issues. Though Marvel canon deems it part of Misty’s overall background, what little it contributes was long ago rewritten by other, better comics.
These include the first dozen issues or so of Iron Fist Vol. 1, which digs deep into Misty’s police background, the story of how she lost her arm, and her and Colleen’s friendly partnership. Also worth reading: Marvel Team-Up #63 and #64, which highlights Iron Fish and Spider-Man’s collaborative efforts to defeat the Steel Serpent. Misty and Colleen both feature prominently in both issues, and it’s from Steel Serpent’s sarcasm that they land on their “Daughters of the Dragon.”