Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Immortal Iron Fist Issues 1-6

Iron Fist is one of the lesser know Marvel heroes.  Created in the 1970's he was originally intended to capitalize on the martial arts craze.  Quickly teamed up with his fellow 1970's hero Power Man, the two stared in the series Power Man and Iron Fist.

It was a quirky series, and I have to admit I was a fan.  Or, more specifically I was a fan of the last half-dozen or so issues as I first became a fan of the book near the end of its run when it crossed over with the lamentable Secret Wars II series.  So most of my experience with Iron Fist was gleaned by reading about him in comics pulled from the back issue bin.

Like unto a thing of iron! Perhaps this is why I did not immediately jump on The Immortal Iron Fist book when it first came out, even though it was written by Ed Brubacker and Matt Fraction.  More likely it was just that I remember loving Iron Fist as a teenager andI  figured what I liked about him would not translate well to me as an adult.

So it was with some trepidation, I hopped on the book with issue #7, a stand alone story featuring Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay.  I liked that a lot, and shortly afterwards my lovely wife was kind enough to pick up The Last Iron Fist Story (issues 1-6 in TPB format) for me for Valentine's Day.

(As an aside, if you are a nerd, I highly recommend picking up a nerd wife.  It will make your life so much easier in the long run).

Back to the review.  I need not have worried that my love of the character would not translate well.  Not because I hadn't changed, but that Iron Fist had changed with me.  The current series owes less to traditional comic books than it does to old Samurai Sunday martial arts movies mixed in with a liberal dose of pulp action. Nevertheless, it remains respectful of the stories that preceded it.  In some ways it reminds me of the movie Kill Bill in how it manages to mix the old in with the new and yet feel fresh.

I should warn longtime fans that the first story storyline, involves a lot of retroactive continuity.  Normally, I am normally not a big fan of tampering with the past, but it works here.  This is a case where the changes additive, expanding the mythology of the character. Since the book follows Daniel Rand (the titular Iron Fist) in his own quest to find out the truth behind what is going on, the changes are revealed naturally to the reader.

I suppose while I am on the subject, this series is great reading material for anyone who plays a monk in Dungeons & Dragons.  The mix of oriental and occidental culture is done well, and may give a player several ideas useful at the gaming table.

If you have any interest in the subjects above I suggest you, at least, give The Immortal Iron Fist a try.  The comic is a hoot, and the storylines are being collected in trade paperbacks if you are not a monthly comic kind of guy (or girl).