Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Immortal Iron Fist

For most fans X-Men was the best work of the Claremont/Byrne team. To me it will always be their work on Iron Fist. They created a believable and likable character in those early Iron Fist comics. Up to that time the Iron Fist comic had been handed to a score of different writers, each not really sure how to deal with a comic that was just added to the line due to the popularity of kung-fu. Iron Fist's character reflected that. When Claremont and Byrne took over the book they injected a new sense of life into the character. Danny became a person and not just the face beneath the mask. The supporting cast came to life. Misty and Danny's romance became a central point of the book. A back story was created. The reader just knew there was a lot of history coming up in the comic.

And than the comic was merged with Luke Cage's Hero For Hire comic and not long after that the two creators departed the series. After that the series had its ups and downs, but for my money never equaling those first dozen or so issues.

Now Marvel has brought Iron Fist back to life. The creators of the new series are Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja. Brubaker writes one of my favorite comics at the moment, Daredevil, so I had high hopes for this series. I was somewhat afraid what would be tried also, for me the memory of the old series still held a very special place in my heart and it's when fans feel like this about a series that they become overly protective and wary of any different take on what they feel is "their" character." I have to admit I was feeling a little like that.

But happily I can report the new team has updated Danny Rand and Iron Fist and created a great new comic. They've made the Iron Fist a legacy comic. Evidently this is a character like Green Lantern where their power is handed down from person to person, keeping the hero alive if not the person himself. This actually fits in with the original series, as the Iron Fist was always said to exist before Danny Rand became the hero. Here they take the concept and flesh it out. I was a little apprehensive when I first read about this, afraid we'd see some really crazy Iron Fists throughout the years. But their versions of Iron Fists throughout the year fit into the time they lived.

What they've did is help make a history for Iron Fist. They've created a great character in the Iron Fist previous to Danny Rand. There is a lot of back story in Orson Randall and I'd like to see more of him and his history of the Iron Fist.

Still none of this would matter if they screwed up Danny Rand. And they didn't. Danny is one of those characters that is still somewhat naive in the scope of life. He's not as bad as he first was, but there is still a nice naviety about Danny Rand. He's not the jokester of the Spiderman comics, but he still can deliver a one liner when things seem dark and gritty. We see the friendship between Danny and Luke Cage, which was the best part of combining the two comics years ago. The contrast to their two personalitites and background made for a fascinating friendship.

As for the art side of things, Aja brings a grace and beauty to the character. When we see Iron Fist leaping acoss a building and jumping from a group of Hydra assassains there is a grace to the character that we've never seen before. I'm still not sure if I'm sold completely on the costume changes, I liked the old cut away shirt style, but it's close enough to the original that I don't hate it. It's just different and I'm not completely adjusted to it yet.

I missed these issues when they original came out and just now picked up the trade. I don't buy the trades for a lot of comics, but Iron Fist will be one I continue to. This is one to add to the collection.

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