Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Immortal Iron Fist - Ed Brubaker(W), Matt Fraction(W) and David Aja(A)

Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Last Iron Fist Story (v. 1)The Immortal Iron Fist, written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction and drawn beautifully by David Aja, was one of those books for which I was, of course, late to the party.  I believe it was the third issue of the series where I jumped on, but I was luckily able to dig up a copy of the second issue, and the first issue had received an additional print run that I was able to pick up as well.  I was immediately hooked and in love with Iron Fist after a separation of nearly thirty years.

As a kid under the age of ten, I loved Iron Fist, especially the Marvel Team-Up books with Spider-Man where he battled--and lost--to the Steel Serpent, usurper to the power of the Iron Fist.  There were also the many Power Man and Iron Fist books, and his own book, which introduced the comics world to Sabertooth, Wolverine's archnemesis, and also the great issue that included the X-Men (each written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne).  Around that time, I moved from Ohio to California and lost track of Iron Fist, or more appropriately he bowed out of the picture for all intents and purposes.

I hope that you have money to burn to buy this one!  I wish my dogs had not eaten this issue.

Fast forward thirty years and I begin to hear the buzz over the resuscitation of the character who I had loved dearly.  Of course my local comic shop had sold out of the first issue and I was left looking at the webshots of the striking cover image at comics review sites everywhere.  It was right around here that the regret over not adding this title to my pull list began to set in.  I did some frantic scrambling and begging to get my store to locate the sold-out issues for me, which they did, and I finally learned what all the fuss was about.

Uncolored art from David Aja for issue #1

Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction plucked Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) from the obscurity he was dropped into and made him important to the Marvel universe once again.  Not only did they rescue the character, but they created a rich mythology behind the mantle of the Iron Fist, making Danny one in a long line of title holders, who Brubaker and Fraction would offer glimpses into--and eventually full issues--showing that Danny Rand had not even come close to reaching his potential.

More of the uncolored art by David Aja

Also revived is Danny's old nemesis, Davos the Steel Serpent, who is very much no longer imploded and in possession of strange new powers, which have been bestowed upon him by the mysterious being known as Crane Mother.  Davos is also backed by the legions of Hydra, as well as an evil multi-national corporation (aren't something like 90% of them evil?) intent of taking over Rand's own inherited Rand Corporation (one of the 10%).

Then there is the matter of Brubaker and Fractions's character, Orson Randall, the previous Iron Fist and the one who had stolen the Book of the Iron Fist, which detailed the powers and capabilities available to all who hold the title.  Orson, although appearing all too briefly in the series, created such a stir, that more on him and his background were needed.  Thankfully, the writers created a handful of one-shot issues dedicated to the older, gruffer yet more experienced Orson Randall, which for me was not even close to enough.  I would have eagerly anticipated whole story arcs extrapolating on the all-too-brief flashbacks into Orson's rich history, and adventures; a series would have been greatly appreciated in fact.  Maybe someday.

Davos the Steel Serpent

A beautiful page by David Aja.  Danny Rand and Orson Randall
Where the writers expertly recreated an obscure character and brought him to the forefront of Marvel Comics super heroes with the deep history, newly created mythology, and characters that are important, the artist, David Aja, only reinforced everything that Brubaker and Fraction had done.  Aja's gorgeous imagery, layouts and storytelling through art, make him an equal shareholder--possibly more--in the revitalization of Iron Fist.  As evidenced in the images above, Aja's artwork fluctuates between the insanely detailed imagery of the art within the pages, to the beautiful minimalism found on the covers, primarily seen on issue number four.  Aja was the perfect artist for this kung-fu noir tale and one who I cannot wait to see more from in the near future.

One of the most striking cover in the series
For the entirety of the Brubaker, Fraction and Aja's run on the Immortal Iron Fist, I was biting my nails waiting for the next installment.  I wanted to frame the most beautiful pages and covers from the various issues and hang them in my home, but the amount of frames needed would require a house large enough to accommodate the sheer volume worthy of displaying; there is also the matter of convincing Amy to let me do such a thing...not gonna happen.  The Immortal Iron Fist really struck me just right and I cross my fingers that the three responsible for bringing some much needed life to one of my favorite childhood characters, will someday return to create even more wonderful tales. 

Very highly recommended.  

Also, the entire run is collected in the gorgeous The Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus.


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