Here’s a secret you might not know about me. When I was little, just starting to read comics, one of my favorite titles was Power Man & Iron Fist, although it started out as Hero for Hire. It’s what started my love of Luke Cage, but also my admiration of Danny Rand. Cage has been around more often in recent years but I was really happy to hear that Danny Rand was returning for some more solo adventures.
So here’s my take on the first story arc, running from issues #1-#3.
Unlike a lot of comics that get endlessly rebooted and don’t need to explain the origin of the character time and time again, Iron Fist really does need to cover this uncommon ground and it does so very well, detailing Danny Rand’s time in Asia. He travelled with his parents and their business partner to the mystical city of K’un Lun, but after a horrible accident, he was orphaned and rescued by the priests of K’un Lun where he became a warrior and won the title of Iron Fist by besting the dragon Shou-Lao. Consumed by hatred for the man who caused his parents’ death, he left the mystical city and followed a path of vengeance.
Danny Rand isn’t comforted by his vengeance, he’s consumed and destroyed by it, he tries to bury his unhappiness beneath affairs and the like but it doesn’t work, he’s constantly haunted by the past. When ninjas attack his apartment in order to stop a little girl from K’un Lun from approaching him, he reacts and takes them down, but not before the girl is seriously injured. She tells him to return to K’un Lun, the mystical city that is only accessible once every ten years, and he has to go, leaving his girlfriend, who he doesn’t even remember her name, alone to deal with the dead ninjas, undead bodies and girl with the arrows in her back.
But when he gets back to K’un Lun, it’s been destroyed and his master has been beheaded. The people wonder why he has abandoned them, why he didn’t come back to save them all, but now that he’s back, they want him to lead them in rebuilding the mystic city. He refuses, destroying the Tree of Immortality and the fruit that allows them all to stay alive eternally and he’s cast out of the city to meet up with his supposedly dead father.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend Brenda isn’t doing any better, she’s taken the little girl, Pei, to the hospital, but it’s attacked by ninjas bent on getting Pei back. Pei struggles to get away before the monsters that pursue her can recover something that she’s carrying…
There’s an awful lot of angst in this book but it just works. Danny Rand is a character, not just damaged, but broken. He burns for vengeance that is forever denied him, he can never have closure and he blames the world around him for his troubles. He’s going to have to learn to let his problems go and be a hero, something that far too many superheroes never have to do, they adopt the view quite naturally. I’m glad to see him struggle, so long as it doesn’t get too out of hand. Gritty is fine to an extent. Absurdly grim and gritty is not. Don’t cross the line, please.
My one complaint is the art. It’s not bad. It’s just not a style that I happen to enjoy and there are a lot of current Marvel books that are using non-standard art and that’s not a bad thing, I’m just happier with the more traditional Marvel artwork style than the sketchy, stylized work we see here. It’s very Frank Miller-ish in a lot of ways, which as I said, isn’t bad, it’s just not my preferred style. It’s not as bad as some other Marvel books that I’ll be reviewing soon though and I can live with it.
This is certainly a different take on the character, a darker take, than we’ve seen before and in his solo books, Iron Fist has usually been a fairly dark character. With the intro arc out of the way, I can’t wait to see where this goes, it’s make or break time and I’m trusting artist/writer Kaare Andrews to give us a good story along the way. If you’re a fan of Iron Fist, or even just curious, this is a good introduction to the character and I’m betting it’s going to be a damn good book once it really gets going. Recommended.