Prep for 'Iron Fist' Season 2 with the best Iron Fist stories

Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

The second season of Iron Fist drops Sept. 8 on Netflix, and advance word is that the addition of new villain Typhoid Mary and the return of Davos are reasons for excitement. If you’re not convinced, here are some of the best Iron Fist collections to remind you of what an awesome character he (and his friends) can be:

 

THE ORIGIN

Iron Fist launched in the kung fu craze of the early ‘70s, but even so, most of those stories hold up pretty well. Lucky for us, the character’s first four years are included in a single trade paperback.

Cover art to Iron Fist #1 by Gil Kane. Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Iron Fist battled Iron Man as the kickoff to “The Search for Colleen Wing” in 1975, reprinted in Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist. Yes, in those days Iron Man’s mask had a nose on it.

Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist ($39.99) starts with the character’s debut in 1974, and collects Danny’s first two series. A Marvel Team-Up two-parter from 1978, where Iron Fist first meets Spider-Man, rounds out the collection.

Two of Marvel’s finest – writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane – launched the character with a tight, two-issue origin story that laid the groundwork still in use today. “The Fury of Iron Fist” and “Heart of the Dragon” showed Danny’s parents dying in the Himalayas, Danny’s training by Lei Kung the Thunderer in the mystical, other-dimensional city of K’un-Lun, the untrustworthiness of  Yü-Ti (the August Personage in Jade) and Danny’s betrayal by the Meachum family.

We also got the introduction of a certain titular super-power. And that holds up pretty well, too.

“You call silently, inwardly, upon the invincible will which forms the very core of your being,” reads a caption at the end of the first Iron Fist story. “Unfathomed reserves of concentration and resolve flow from your brain, your shoulders, your legs, from every part of a body honed for 10 long year – flow, meld and merge into one place – into your hand – until it begins to smolder and glow – until it becomes like unto – a thing of IRON!”

Yeah, that’s the stuff! Thomas could really turn a phrase, couldn’t he?

This book also includes:

  • The first appearance of Colleen Wing, and the second appearance of Misty Knight (although the first time she was named).
  • The Search for Colleen Wing: Written and drawn by the X-Men team supreme, Chris Claremont and John Byrne, this seven-issue story has Danny hot on the trail of his kidnapped colleague. And Iron Fist battles Iron Man, because that gave Marvel a chance to use the title “A Duel of Iron!”
  • “Snowfire!” While most people consider Sabretooth a Wolverine foe, he fought Danny Rand first in this story by Claremont and Byrne.
  • “Enter the X-Men!” guest stars …  oh, you guessed, did you? It’s a great story, written and drawn by the most famous X-creators (Claremont and Byrne) and involving Misty Knight as well. This story leads directly into …
  • “Night of the Dragon!” and “If Death Be My Destiny!”, this story from Marvel Team-Up features Spidey and Iron Fist battling Davos, Danny’s rival for the iron fist. Consumed with jealousy and calling himself Steel Serpent, Davos actually steals Shou-Lao’s power for a while. Since Davos is a big player in Iron Fist Season 2, that makes this an important story. And yes, it’s by Claremont-Byrne.

 

Cover art to Iron Fist #14 by Dave Cockrum and Al Milgrom. Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Sabretooth debuted in Iron Fist in 1977, before moving on to become Wolverine’s arch-enemy.

THE BEST FRIEND

While Iron Fist was born of the kung fu craze, Luke Cage, Power Man got its start from blaxploitation. When both fads faded, both books began to fail – so, to avoid cancellation, Marvel just threw Iron Fist and his supporting cast into Power Man. Voila! The oddest of odd couples was born.

The in-story origin of the bromance can be found in Power Man (soon to be renamed Power Man and Iron Fist) #48-50. Once again, Claremont-Byrne set the show in motion, although they left at the end of #50. That issue, titled “Freedom!”, saw Luke cleared of the frame that sent him to jail back in the first issue of  Luke Cage.

Those stories – and 20 more! – can be found in the Power Man and Iron Fist Epic Collection ($39.99). Unfortunately, some of the best stories from the original Power Man and Iron Fist – which ran to issue #125 – haven’t all been collected. Maybe someday. But for now, this book will give you a taste of how and why this unlikely team-up succeeded.

 

THE EXPANDED ORIGIN

While the basics of Danny Rand’s origin have remained unchanged,  writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction expanded it far beyond its original brief – and blew a lot of minds in the process.

A 2007 series titled Immortal Iron Fist revealed in short order that 1) there have been many Iron Fists throughout history, with Danny just being the latest, and 2) K’un-Lun is but one of seven mystical, other-dimensional “Cities of Heaven,” each of which has their own bizarre martial artist as a protector. All of these protectors, including Iron Fist, are called “immortal,” because when one dies they are immediately replaced.

In the first six issues (“The Last Iron Fist Story”), Danny is given the “Book of Iron Fist” by his immediate predecessor, Orson Randall – the only Iron Fist to leave the job alive (because he quit). Davos and Hydra both want the book, so Danny and Orson go on the run – giving us time to learn a bit about Iron Fist history (Iron Fistory?).

In issues #8-14 (“The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven”), Danny is drafted into a tournament between the Seven Cities; the “Immortal Weapons” like Iron Fist have to fight their counterparts, with the winner determining which city gets to appear on Earth next. Naturally, there are double-crosses, surprise reveals and martial arts a-plenty.

The art, primarily by David Aja, is mesmerizing. We are also treated to several standalone stories and one-shots that help expand this cosmology, all contained in Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection Vol. 1  ($39.99).

Cover art to Immortal Iron Fist #22 by Travel Foreman. Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

The Immortal Weapons of the Cities of Heaven include (clockwise from top left) Prince of Orphans, Iron Fist, Dog Brother #1, Bride of Nine Spiders, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and Fat Cobra.

Immortal Iron Fist continued after the Fraction/Brubaker era for 11 more issues, in which Danny finds out that all Iron Fists (except Orson) die at age 33. He discovers this, of course, on his 33rd birthday, and the four-part “Mortal Iron Fist” story is devoted to his efforts to avoid his fate. Written by Duane Swierczynski, with art primarily by Travel Foreman, it’s is a worthy successor to its predecessors.

“Mortal” is followed by a variety of stories too complicated to describe here, except for one where Danny goes to Hell. (Don’t worry, he comes back.) They are all collected in Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection Vol. 2, which also includes a variety of Orson Randall one-shots.

Another highlight of the second collection is the five-issue miniseries “Immortal Weapons” (2009), which devoted one issue each to five of the seven protectors of the Cities of Heaven. (The sixth is Iron Fist, who doesn’t need a standalone issue, and the seventh is Davos, who got kicked out.) Those five are named “Fat Cobra,” “Bride of Nine Spiders,” “Dog Brother #1,” “Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter” and “Prince of Orphans.” Their stories are just as fascinating as their names, with art by an all-star lineup, including Aja and Foreman.

 

THE GALS

Lastly we come to Misty Knight, cyber-armed ex-cop, and Colleen Wing, ninja warrior, who are sometimes called the Daughters of the Dragon. They are last not because they are women, nor because they aren’t interesting, but because they have had so much less “screen time” than their male colleagues. As interesting as they are – and usually they’re more interesting than the boys – they’re usually relegated to supporting-character roles.

So, yeah, if you read virtually any book starring Luke Cage and Danny Rand, or one with “Heroes for Hire” in the title, you’ll generally find Colleen and Misty, or their detective agency-cum-bounty hunting firm Knightwing Restorations. Ditto just about any issue of Marvel’s 1970s B&W magazine, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. But solo series? Not so much.

There was one six-issue miniseries, though, that was collected as Daughters of the Dragon: Samurai Bullets. It’s out of print now and hard to find, but well worth the search. In it, Knightwing Restorations is tasked with finding four D-level supervillains who have jumped bail – but naturally, it turns out not to be as easy as it sounds. Which means we get to see Colleen and Misty with their backs against the wall, when they are at their best.

But first, let’s see what Iron Fist Season 2 has in store. Chances are that’ll send us scurrying back to the bookstore for more about Danny, Colleen, Misty, Davos and the whole K’un-Lun gang.

Find Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), on his website (captaincomics.ning.com), on Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or on Twitter (@CaptainComics).

Views: 85

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Got at least a few of the original Iron Fist series and most of the Power Man/Iron Fist run and usually it was entertaining enough.  Watched the last 3 episodes of the 2nd season of Iron Fist last night with a couple of friends.  Some intense drama, action and exploration of fanaticism.  Worth watching, IMO.

Just got the Iron Fist Epic Collection today! 

One thing, Iron Fist's first appearance in Marvel Premiere #15 was in 1974, not 1972. That was Luke Cage!

D'oh! Fixed.

Philip Portelli said:

Just got the Iron Fist Epic Collection today! 

One thing, Iron Fist's first appearance in Marvel Premiere #15 was in 1974, not 1972. That was Luke Cage!

Iron Fist is a character that's never really worked for me. In attempting to put my finger on why, I've had to do a little bit of thinking:

 

* First of all, he's frequently been portrayed as this naive, Pollyanna-ish character that's completely out of touch with modern society and how people act. I could maybe see that when he first returned from K'un-L'un, but he's been back among contemporary society long enough that he should have a better understanding of how the world works. Not to mention that he wasn't exactly a baby when he went to K'un-L'un in the first place--he should have experiences with people who weren't perfect from before.

 

* Speaking of K'un-L'un, we've been shown over the years that it is far from the "Paradise Island"  that Danny tends to describe. Sure, there's an overall philosophy, but peole are still people and they can be just as devious and treacherous as anyone brought up in the rest of the world.

 

* With one exception, I've always thought he had really lousy villains. Not unusual for Marvel, but they've managed to do the Kung-Fu villain in the past and come up with some decent, memorable ones. Additionally, until he started teaming with Luke, his supporting cast really wasn't that great either. I like the Daughters of the Dragon just fine but it seems as if little has ever really been done with them.

 

That being said, there have been some highlights. One of my favorite Iron Fist tales was from Marvel Team-Up #63, where Davos (one of his better villains IMO) came after Danny to take the power of the Iron Fist away from him. It showed us a Danny who wasn't perfect, who needed the power of the Iron Fist not just because he was the best man to contain it, but because it was his.

 

I think a lot of the better Iron Fist stories have been the ones where he does act more human, where his motivations aren't always so pure, where we see more of him and less of the shell covering him. This is not to say I want to see him brutalizing criminals or making a heel turn or anything like that, but maybe some displays of anger, some passion, some simple humanity would be nice to see.

For the source of the name K'un-Lun see here and here.

While Marvel had martial arts characters before like Karnak, Shang-Chi and Mantis, Iron Fist was unique as it merged the genre with both fantasy and super-heroics. Unfortunately he had a short shelf-life as the "Kung Fu" craze was fading, limiting his solo run to a four year period. Being paired with Power Man kept him relevant as Iron Fist never had the depth of Shang-Chi.

One of my favorite Iron Fist stories was, ironically, Master of Kung Fu Annual #1 (1976), quite possibly the only that I had with the two at the time. I consider it a minor classic with a memorable villain, Quan-St'ar who was never seen again. Despite it being Shang's annual, the story was steeped in the Iron Fist mythos. Definitely worth finding and/or reprinting!

Strangely or not, I only got into Master of Kung Fu and Iron Fist after the kung fu fad had mostly faded, circa 1977.  Admittedly, part of it was that I had a somewhat bigger allowance and thus more money to buy more comics than in previous years when I had to make hard choices as to what comics I'd purchase with whatever quarters, nickels, dimes pennies I had in my pocket..  In 1974 - 76, I was more likely to spend them on the superheroes I already loved rather than on something that seemed too faddish or too out of my favored range.  By 1977 - '78, I was more willing and able to expand my range and at least with MoKF, I found I really liked it (and the big supporting cast certainly helped).  Iron Fist was cancelled within a few months of my starting to collect that but I did follow the character into his pairing with Power Man, whose mag I'd also started collecting a few months prior.  I thought they made a good pairing, with both on fairly equal footing unlike Falcon's joining with Captain America or the Black Widow's with Daredevil.  

By the time Iron Fist and Shang-Chi began I was well into my twenties and able to (and compelled to) buy just about all Marvels and many DCs. It helped that they were still cheap. Iron Fist never seemed very solid to me, like he was a high concept that they didn't know how to develop. Shang-Chi, from both a story and art aspect, hit the ground running in his first try-out issue and was consistently good.

I thought Iron Fist was a solid, if not terribly interesting, feature -- mainly on the strength of the Thomas/Kane origin story, and on the Claremont/Byrne early issues. What made it pop for me, though, was the Immortal Iron Fist expansion on the mythos. That took it from mediocre to top shelf.

The TV show if finally introducing Orson Randall, and hopefully the other immortal weapons. My appreciation will always be hobbled, however, by the sneaking suspicion that Finn Jones just isn't a very good actor. If it wasn't for Jessica Henwick and Simone Missick, the second season wouldn't have been any more watchable for me than the first.

I hope I'm wrong about Jones, but I don't think I am.

Still getting around to watching season two.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2018   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service