Iron Fist

The Immortal Iron Fist: The Origin of Danny Rand 1 (October 2008)

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Thank goodness Marvel felt the need to recolor the first two appearances of Iron Fist with some terrible glossy digital coloring from Andrew Crossley. Someone with time on his or her hands should do a comparison between Crossley’s “modern” colors here and the originals from Marvel Premiere.

Oddly, there’s a classy opening from Fraction and Kano–I think that opening must be Fraction’s last work on Iron Fist–and Kano does his own, non-glossy colors.

The origin issues hold up pretty well. Both Thomas and Wein write in the second person, which makes the whole experience–learning about K’un-L’un, Iron Fist’s origin, Danny Rand’s traumatic childhood–palatable. Kane pencils the first part, Hama the second, Giordano inks them both smoothly. Even the silly coloring can’t mess up Giordano inks on a kung fu comic.

The reprinted stories aren’t classics in the quality sense, but they’re solid seventies stuff.

CREDITS

The Origin of Danny Rand; writer, Matt Fraction; artist and colorist, Kano; letterer, Dave Lanphear. The Fury of Iron Fist!; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Gil Kane; inker, Dick Giordano; colorist, Andrew Crossley; letterer, Gaspar Saladino. Heart of the Dragon!; writers, Thomas and Len Wein; penciller, Larry Hama; inker, Giordano; colorist, Crossley; letterer, Saladino. Editors, Cory Levine, Thomas and Jeff Youngquist; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Immortal Weapons 5 (January 2010)

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You know who David Lapham can’t write? Danny Rand. You know who he has as his de facto protagonist? Danny Rand.

John Aman—the Prince of Orphans—is secondary to his own issue. Lapham even writes an adventure for Danny and Luke with a wacky miniature villain. I guess Aman gets the opening scene but….

Worse, it’s like Lapham never even read Brubaker and Fraction’s Immortal Iron Fist issues with Aman and Danny to get the relationship down. He just makes Danny a pest—it’s like he’s writing Spider-Man as Danny Rand.

I guess it’s an okay story for not being any good and Lozzi’s art is lovely.

This whole Immortal Weapons series is a waste of time.

And the Swierczynski Iron Fist backup, which started so nice, is a waste. Swierczynski lost hold of the narrative—it’s obvious. And Diaz’s artwork is even worse than before. He’s awful.

CREDITS

Prince of Orphans: The Loyal Ten Thousand Dead; writer, David Lapham; artist, Arturo Lozzi; colorist, June Chung. The Caretakers, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 4 (January 2010)

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There’s the Swierczynski I was expecting… turning in a completely useless issue.

Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter gets the feature. Swierczynski’s so wrapped up in his Amazon warrior women story he neglects to mention a) the name of the Heavenly City and b) how they could possibly have an Immortal Weapon. It’s nonsensical, but also bad.

Swierczynski tries real hard not to be sexist, but fails miserably. I also like how he borrows the reasoning for some Muslim women taking the veil (so their features aren’t their defining factor) as the warrior women putting on face guards. However, these warrior women are running around in bikinis so I’m not sure what difference the face guard makes.

Also… if Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter is supposed to be beautiful, did someone forget to tell Evans? The character’s funny looking.

The Iron Fist backup is, again, too short and too unbearably ugly (thanks to Diaz’s art).

CREDITS

Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Khari Evans; inkers, Victor Olazaba and Allen Martinez. The Caretakers, Part Four; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz. Colorist, June Chung; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 3 (November 2009)

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Who’s this Rick Spears guy and why have I never heard of him before? His origin of Dog Brother #1 is fantastic.

He opens it in late nineteenth century Hong Kong, where Dog Brother is something of a myth. Spears’s protagonists are these two orphans, trying to navigate the gangs, the British and the poverty. It’s sort of incredible how subtle Spears’s writing manages to be, given everything going on in the story.

Eventually, whether or not Dog Brother #1 has anything to do with the story doesn’t matter anymore. Spears gives his protagonists this tragic arc. He never pushes it or makes it melodramatic. He just lets all the awfulness play out.

Some fine art from Green… just a great piece of work.

The Iron Fist backup is messy. It’s too short, confusingly follows the previous installment and Diaz’s artwork is terrible. Swierczynski tries, but he can’t do much.

CREDITS

Dog Brother #1 “Urban Legend”; writer, Rick Spears; artist, Timothy Green; colorist, Edward Bola. The Caretakers, Part Three; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 2 (October 2009)

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What a stinker.

The whole thing plays like a bad Marvel horror comic from the seventies, with a team of mercenaries (they have matching outfits, of course) out to retrieve a spider. It’s not any spider, it’s one of the Bride of Nine Spiders’s spiders. There’s a bit of a continuity break, showing the Bride to always be beautiful, when in Immortal Iron Fist flashbacks she wasn’t shown as such.

So, it’s an action horror comic instead of a kung fu horror comic.

Bunn’s writing is occasionally okay—his dialogue is fine—but he’s establishing all these characters in a single issue. The Bride he never gets around to establishing though. She’s barely in her own comic.

Also, Brereton’s problematic—his proportions are off.

It’s just a forced horror comic. Big mistake.

However, great Iron Fist backup. Gaudiano’s inks make Foreman’s pencils fantastic. Still, doesn’t make up for the feature.

CREDITS

The Spider’s Song; writer, Cullen Bunn; penciller, Dan Brereton; inkers, Tom Palmer, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington; colorist, Paul Mounts. The Caretakers, Part Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 1 (September 2009)

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Could this story be more depressing?

Aaron does a decent job on Fat Cobra’s backstory—though he doesn’t go enough into defining Fat Cobra’s Heavenly City. He buys his way back into it at one point and buying one’s way back into a Heavenly City seems a little common.

Then there’s all the retconning of Fat Cobra into Marvel Comics history. He was almost an Invader, he was Ulysses Bloodstone’s sidekick and so on and so forth. Aaron’s trying to hard to be cute. When we get to the end of the story and find out the salient feature of Fat Cobra’s (forgotten) past… all the other stuff becomes silly.

That feature—Fat Cobra has no memory of his past—is similarly problematic. Aaron needed to explain it.

Good art from a variety of artists. It’s a fine package.

Swierczynski’s Iron Fist backup is the best Iron Fist he’s written.

CREDITS

The Book of the Cobra; writer, Jason Aaron; pencillers, Mico Suayan, Stefano Gaudiano, Roberto De La Torre, Khari Evans, Michael Lark and Arturo Lozzi; inkers, Suayan, Gaudiano, De La Torre, Victor Olazaba, Lark and Lozzi; colorists, Edgar Delgado, Matt Hollingsworth, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic and Jodi Wolff. The Caretakers, Part One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 27 (August 2009)

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Swierczynski’s Iron Fist goes out with a whimper. He mimics Fraction’s last issue on the title. I’m not sure Swierczynski should have gotten to close, since he was just following Brubaker and Fraction–not to say his writing wasn’t occasionally quite good, it was just never original.

Foreman goes back to inking himself (I think) and it looks a little better than usual. It’s a dark, emotive style. Until the Lapham pages. They look out of place and, worse, lazy.

Swierczynski is more concerned getting Danny to the last page–expecting a baby, financially ruined–than doing it in any realistic manner. One has to wonder about editorial mandates, how much was about getting Danny set for his next series or whatever.

It’s too bad Swierczynski did ten or eleven issues on the series and never made an impression on his own. It’s still too much Brubaker and Fraction’s series.

The Immortal Iron Fist 26 (July 2009)

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Oh, come on.

I think Foreman’s the bigger problem, but Swierczynski really does completely fail when it comes to a good conclusion. He has a dramatic cliffhanger, but it’s a confusing one (one the previous page implies is unlikely).

But worse, he fails to deal with K’un-L’un. He changes the status quo again and abandons it. He really has no idea how to pace an issue. He goes for dramatic effect with brief, intense moments… then leaves them hanging. He doesn’t follow through to make them solid.

But, like I said before, the real problem is Foreman. Even with someone like Palmer on inks, he just can’t do a good mass action scene. I could barely follow it–is Cobra still alive? It’s a shame because the series was always so good looking, it’s unfortunate it got ugly when Swierczynski started.

Whatever Swierczynski’s problems, he doesn’t deserve confusing art.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman and Juan Doe; inkers, Tom Palmer and Doe; colorists, Matt Milla and Doe; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 25 (June 2009)

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As usual, Swierczynski manages to pull the story around after a weak move. Here, he reveals the old impostor to be nothing but a temporary ruse, something to distract Danny (and the reader). Then we get the full story.

Then the Immortal Weapons start kicking butt.

Swierczynski is best when he utilizes the Immortal Weapons, so it makes little sense why he keeps them on the back burner for most of his issues. Danny’s a strong protagonist, but Swierczynski can do only so much with him. He’s still resolving old plot threads, he can’t go forward. So giving him people play off helps.

Not to mention the other Immortal Weapons are often a lot of fun.

Then we get the final page, which reveals Davos’s true mission. Hopefully Swierczynski will take the time to sell it; this issue, it seems another way to prolong the arc.

So, problematic, but good.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter Three; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman and Juan Doe; inkers, Tom Palmer and Doe; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 24 (May 2009)

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What a cheat.

Swierczynski can write the fill in issues–with the past Iron Fist adventures–just fine. So how does he follow up one of his lamer issues?

With a charming fill in issue with Kano art. Genocide aside, it’s delightful.

This Iron Fist is a pacifist–whose pacifism eventually costs the lives of millions, so I guess we know where Swierczynski stands on that issue–and it provides a different kind of Iron Fist story.

The majority of the issue is spent preparing the Iron Fist. He only gets the job, basically, because everyone else is sick. Swierczynski also does a little bit of retcon as to why an Iron Fist is chosen. Here, K’un-L’un needs a champion whenever the gates open… not because someone’s good enough to challenge the dragon or because the dragon’s grown. It’s all conveniently scheduled.

Convenient or not, it’s a fine issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Li Park, The Reluctant Weapon vs. Unstoppable Forces of Evil; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist and colorist, Kano; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 23 (April 2009)

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I think I’ll start with Foreman. He usually does an all right job, but he ends this issue on a terrible full-page panel of the (supposedly) first Iron Fist. He’s got this old guy warped to fit in the panel, his body proportions and perspective a complete mess. It’s terrible finish to the issue because it’s supposed to be scary. Instead it’s weak.

The issue opens with the revelation Davos is untrustworthy. It’s not clear if it’s just him or if it’s the Thunderer too. Swierczynski has a very strange storytelling method for Iron Fist. He contracts things Brubaker and Fraction introduced. For the most part, he sucks the potential out of them. He’s not predictable, he’s simply unoriginal. His Immortal Iron Fist feels like a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s dulled.

Every time Swierczynski seems to be getting better, he drops even further than before.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman, Tonci Zonjic and Timothy Green; inkers, Tom Palmer, Mark Pennington, Zonjic and Green; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 22 (March 2009)

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This issue features the second time Swierczynski has taken some leftover Brubaker and Fraction thread and determined everyone knew about it except Danny.

The Eighth City? The Thunderer knew about it all the time–he could have told Danny about it, back when Danny told him what he was about to do.

This issue Davos shows up to send Danny and the Immortal Weapons to the Eighth City on a mission from the Thunderer. As the Thunderer forgot as well he and Danny had already talked about this quest.

But there’s a bit of a problem with the Eighth City, even as it fits into Swierczynski’s continuity–people can only go in, not come out. Well, it seems like bad guys have been coming out. So that doesn’t make much sense.

It’s a padded issue. Swierczynski’s Danny narration isn’t bad, but the plot’s just nonsense so far.

This series frustrates.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Travel Foreman; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 21 (February 2009)

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This issue might be Swierczynski’s best. It’s one of the done in one other Iron Fist issues and Swierczynski does something a little different. He does a future story. It really nicely fits the mythology Brubaker and Fraction established, while some descendant of Danny’s becoming the youngest Iron Fist.

But the Iron Fist of the future isn’t the protagonist, it’s a young girl growing up on a really lousy planet, apparently colonized by the Chinese (they know to call K’un-L’un for help). It’s an all action issue, with a lot of tension, and Swierczynski does a fantastic job with it all.

It doesn’t hurt he’s got Green on the art. Green’s able to mix future landscapes, Kung Fu and robots into something totally organic looking. It’s lovely to see.

Swierczynski’s also being subtle here. The ending is almost entirely given away early, if one does his or her math.

CREDITS

Wah Sing-Rand and the Mandate of Heaven; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Timothy Green; colorist, Edward Bola; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 20 (January 2009)

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Okay, Swierczynski is finally back on track. Forgetting the special, he’s now written more good issues of The Immortal Iron Fist than mediocre or bad.

This issue resolves—maybe a little too conveniently (it should have taken eight)—Danny’s possible death at thirty-three. It also gets the search for the Eighth City back underway and brings in the Immortal Weapons to a more central role.

Not sure how much of it is Swierczynski’s fault for not plotting the arc right or if Fraction just left him with too much to do.

Swierczynski puts a solid bow on the whole thing, but all the stuff with Misty seems like a misfire. Though Foreman’s hat for her for her big farewell scene with Danny is brilliant. Swierczynski just never establishes their relationship as anything significant. It doesn’t feel like their goodbye has any real weight.

Still, I’m enthusiastically reading once more.

CREDITS

The Mortal Iron Fist, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artists, Russ Heath and Travel Foreman; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.