[19 August 2007]
A kung-fu superhero comic, what’s not to love? The Immortal Iron Fist is by far one of the best Marvel superhero comics on the shelves right now. Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja have turned a second-tier character into one of the most popular and entertaining comics today.
The opening arc, titled “The Last Iron Fist Story,” digs into the history of the Iron Fist legacy itself, and reveals that Danny Rand is not the first to bear its name. In fact, there have been countless Iron Fists throughout the centuries. Brubaker and Fraction enter the mysticism surrounding the character and create a world so enjoyable and engrossing that readers will wonder why no one had ever thought of this before.
David Aja’s art adds a great deal to the tone of this comic. His gritty and rough drawings depict a noir-ish feel to this kung-fu tale. Iron Fist also makes use of a trend found in some other comics recently as well: several artists to depict flashbacks in the story. Aja’s art is always for the current story, while various other artists provide the artwork for the flashback sequences that depict the past adventures of the previous Iron Fists. This allows the reader to discern what is taking place when and creates a different tone for each past Iron Fist character. The flashback artists enhance and complement Aja’s artwork and never feel like they are too extremely different from it in tone or style.
Iron Fist is about one thing: cool kung-fu action. Brubaker and Fraction are able to take the coolest ideas about the character and use them to fuel their stories. Using the group Hydra as the villain for this opening arc allows Iron Fist to kick a lot of bad guy butt, but rather than doing the usual “evil group tries to take over the world” plot, they make the main plot about the legacy of the Iron Fist and how there are other people and groups out there trying to destroy that legacy. In other words, a whole new history and world is created for Iron Fist. Not only that, but this one has depth and interesting characters as well.
When you are done reading this book, you will wonder why Iron Fist was never done this way to begin with. He started out as a cliché kung-fu character in the 1970’s and has now become one of the coolest characters around. The fact that his popularity has risen is also evident in the fact that he is a member of Brian Michael Bendis’ post-Civil War New Avengers. The only fear is that he becomes the next Wolverine and starts popping up in every book. This probably will not happen however as part of what makes Iron Fist so cool now is the characterization given to him by Brubaker and Fraction and the look given to him by Aja. Without these creators, Iron Fist would still be a C-list character who would never have reached his potential.
In a post-Kill Bill world, where kung fu films are cool again, do yourself a favor and pick up not only the best kung fu comics on the market, but one of the best superhero books period. The Immortal Iron Fist will grab you, flip you over and kick your butt all the while leaving you begging for more. Here is hoping Brubaker, Fraction and Aja stay on this book for a while, because not only are they producing top notch work, they are also making an often misused character cool again.