Iron Fist is a Marvel comics character created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane that debuted in Marvel Premiere. He also went on to have his own comic book series in the 70’s, appeared in several mini-series and later on appeared in a comic series called “Power Man and Iron Fist” in the 80’s. After the character’s ‘supposed’ death in the pages of PM/IF, Marvel has brought back Daniel Rand; resurrected, and better than ever. Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction with illustrations by David Aja; “THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST” expands the origins of the character by focusing more on the legends, laws and rules and re-introducing the mystical city of K’un L’un and its inhabitants.
Issues 1-6 is finally collected in a story arc called “The Last Iron Fist Story” that introduces the different “Iron Fists” from each generation, an expansion on the origins of Wendell Rand, the ‘Iron Fist” that came before Daniel Rand, and Devos the “Steel Serpent” (who made his appearance in the pages of the 70’s comic book). When reading this graphic novel, please bear in mind that this is the beginning of a new series that became successful that it gave birth to another series called “Immortal Weapons”.
Daniel Rand leads a double life. Orphaned and raised as a warrior skilled with the best kung fu in the lost, mystical city of K’un Lun, he has become the mystical warrior called Iron Fist; whose destiny is to fight for K’un Lun and to protect the weak. He is also a billionaire who owns his late parents’ billion-dollar Rand Corporation.
Now, both of Daniel’s legacies are in danger as his parents’ company is under threat of a hostile takeover by Wai-Go industries that gets him on a collision course with the terrorist group called “Hydra”. Hydra is poised to resurrect one of his deadliest enemies and to challenge everything that Danny had grown to hold dear. The questions lead to a mysterious man named Orson Randall, a long-lost adventurer who shares the power of the Iron Fist with Danny. Just how is this possible and how can two men channel the same mystical might that makes their fist “like unto a thing of Iron”?
I’ve always been intrigued with the Iron Fist character and I’ve always felt that the character has been ignored in favor of Marvel’s other martial artist, Shang-Chi. I was real pleased when I saw that Ed Brubaker had taken the reins as co-writer since I loved his work with “Captain America”. Brubaker and Fraction had reinvented and successfully re-defined the character with artist David Aja recreating his costume. I liked the way the trio made the adjustments, as they didn’t do anything at random and everything was expanded or changed for a credible reason and with a single goal; to make the “Living Weapon” better than before.
I loved the writing by Brubaker. He managed to keep the dialogue pretty mature that properly exemplifies its intended tone and mood. This is the same Daniel Rand that his fans have grown to know and love., but he seemed to have matured which makes sense. The writing maintains his close relationship with Luke Cage (that inspired Nicholas Cage’s screen name) as they go through their usual routine of eating tons of Chinese food. ‘Iron Fist” classic characters like Misty Knight and Colleen Wing make their appearances to further cement the close friendship they all share.
But don’t think that “the Last Iron Fist Story” is all about bringing comic fans their sense of nostalgia. The series succeeds in introducing many different characters. We see a woman “Iron Fist” Wu Ao-Shi in 1545, a warrior named Bei Ming Tan 1227 A.D. who faced Genghis Khan’s hordes among others that go from generation to generation; the goal is to achieve honor in death. The series definitely defined the word of “Iron Fist” as Danny is educated in the true ways of the power of the Shau-Lao. Favorites such as Danny’s master, Lei Kung the “Thunderer” and Yu-Ti, the August Personage in Jade were also shown in flashbacks that further deepen the myth of the Iron Fist. We see the Iron Fists in combat from the hordes of Khan, to swashbuckling pirates in the 10th
century to the lines of WW1. The stories also climax with the promise of a tournament to introduce the mystical combat that occurs between K’un Lun and K’un Zi led by the Crane Mother.
The action is there, but the series goes more into character development and story than just allowing the reader to be immersed in all the kung fu action. Don’t get me wrong, the action is pretty exciting as Danny is taught some new abilities of the power of Shau Lao including how to channel that might through bullets and even arrows. The encounters with Hydra were pretty cool and intense. However, I was a little disappointed that the kung fu bird ladies didn’t have that many panels of action. I am hoping that volume two would bring them more into the action as the source of strength for the sinister Devos.
“The Last Iron Fist Story” reveals a lot of things that expands the mythos of Marvel’s mightiest martial artist. It is a extensive martial arts fantasy that defies time and space. The 6 chapters takes Daniel Rand in a journey that spans centuries that he can learn the real legacy of the might of Shau Lao. I remember buying my first Iron Fist comic book back in 1975 for 25 cents; I am just glad to see Marvel take the Living weapon to new heights from urban warfare to dark magic beyond imagination. Brubaker, fraction and Aja’s series is a hard-hitting, polished and smooth fantasy adventure that goes into the mysteries of the Iron Fist…immortal, unchanged and Improved!
Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
Note: This collection includes Civil War: Choosing Sides # 1 when Danny took the guise of Daredevil while Murdock went to jail.