ORBITAL QUICK CUTS: IRON FIST

Quick cuts Iron fist header

Welcome to our second ‘Quick Cuts’! With the new Iron Fist series available now on Netflix, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best stories around starring the Protector of K’un Lun.

THE FURY OF IRON FIST (MARVEL EPIC COLLECTION VOL.1)

Various (w), Various (a)

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Taking it from the top right off, we have this collection that includes the earliest appearances of Iron Fist, dating from 1974 to 1977 and including the early origin issues from Marvel Premiere 15-25, as well as the first 15 issues of the solo Iron Fist title and issues 63-64 of Marvel Team-Up.

The stories here have a raft of great talent on board and most of the issues display a clean art style that captures the speed and movement of the martial arts used in the book, improving even further when John Byrne arrives on the scene. There’s an intoxicating writing style here too, (most notably Roy Thomas and Chris Claremont) with all the stories penned in a feverish, internal monologue that seemingly has Danny Rand addressing himself, urging himself on through his adventures. Surely an inspiration for the PTSD-afflicted Danny we see in the show. And if you’re a fan of the show you may be surprised how closely it sticks to story as laid out in these early tales. Of course it’s not long before The Immortal Iron Fist finds himself battling his way through some kind of tournament, a staple of both the series and of the Martial-Arts craze that inspired Marvel in the first place.

POWER-MAN & IRON FIST: HEROES FOR HIRE (MARVEL EPIC COLLECTION VOL.1) & REVENGE! (MARVEL EPIC COLLECTION VOL. 2

Various (w), Various (a)

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This is how most of us probably remember Iron Fist: teaming up with Luke Cage, defending New York.  With the early part of the book reprinting tales from Power-Man’s solo book, this has a terrific amount of urban grit as Cage and Rand battle against corrupt business and the poverty, crime and injustice it creates. By the time we get around to these stories, the Heroes For Hire have moved beyond the cash-ins they were at their inception, into characters in their own right, taking their rightful place in the Marvel canon.

Once again backed up by solid writing and terrific art, this makes you realise that it’s kind of a shame that we’re jumping straight into The Defenders after the Iron Fist show, as it would have been great to see these two guys and their differing viewpoints battling their way across the Marvel TV universe.  Let’s hope The Defenders gives them plenty of opportunity to do just that!

IRON FIST: THE BOOK OF CHANGES

Various (w), Various (a)

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The other Iron-Fist team-up book, this features various tales from Marvel Comics Presents, Namor The Sub-Mariner Annual  And Spider-Man. These just-republished stories have team-ups as their connective tissue, rather than any narrative interlinks.

Most notable are the art styles, here all sharing the blocky scratched in quality of say, Mike Mignola or cover-artist Sam Keith, but then rooted through 90’s extremities.  It’s also notable for giving Danny a rematch against Sabretooth, whom he first went up against in the Marvel Epic Collection Vol.1.  Probably the best ‘sampler’ title on this list if you just want to see what Iron Fist is about but aren’t sure if it’s for you.

IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON (COMPLETE COLLECTION)

Kaare Kyle Andrews (w, a)

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This is great. Kaare Andrews manages to give us a new Iron Fist story whilst simultaneously treading old ground to give us a new take on the Origin.  Andrews art style carries this through, with brilliant ‘folded-map’ style pages for the flashback sequences and a de-saturated colour palette that calls to mind the 70’s Kung-Fu flicks that spawned Iron Fist in the first place.

The book really benefits from Andrews use of light and shade, sparse where needed and blazing when you want it to be, this is one of the prettiest collections Marvel has put out so far, with amazing full width panels and fight sequences. This should have been the show.

THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST

Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker (w) Daid Aja & Various (a) 

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Aja and Fraction (reliably backed up by Brubaker) bring the magic they would later work on the Hawkeye Now! series to Iron Fist for this year-long run. Delving into the history of both The Immortal Weapons and of the Hidden Cities themselves, this expands the Iron Fist universe, allowing past and present to run together in the fight against Hydra and then into (you guessed it) a Martial-arts tournament that pits Rand against the immortal champions of other dimensions. Danny is aided by an Iron Fist of the past, who opens his mind to the greater things his capable of.

The art is dense and detailed, a complete contrast to Aja’s simplified (but no less beautiful), bright Hawkeye style, closer in tone to the work you’d usually associate with the Brubaker and Phillips books. In this collection you also get The Immortal Iron Fist Annual which gives you a complete tale of The Iron Fist of 1545, adding to the myth laid out in the seventies by Roy Thomas and Chris Claremont. A brilliant read for To-Dais and Senseis alike!

That concludes our second Quick Cuts. Hope you enjoyed it. Remember to pop by the store and let us know what you thought. In the meantime  you can listen to Liz and myself chat about the first six episodes of Iron Fist. Keep an eye open for part two soon! 

Paul.