Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Immortal Iron Fist

The Immortal Iron Fist: Volume 1 - The Last Iron Fist Story, Volume 2 - The Seven Capital Cities Of Heaven. (Fraction, Brubaker, Aja, etc.)

I picked up volume one in paperback, and volume two in hardcover a while back at my local used bookstore. It took me a while to get to them, but I was finally able to read them over the past several days. I had picked up the first issue or two of the series when it came out, and had liked it, but for some reason didn't keep getting it. I have never heard anything but praise for the series, and was very excited to find both volumes at the same time at a decent discount. I wish I had volume one in hardcover now, but while I like having hardcovers, I only buy them when they are available on the cheap.

When I was a kid, some of my favorite comics were Power Man and Iron Fist. They were always fun, and they focused on 'street level' superheroes, which have always been my favorites. There was the buddy aspect, and both were cool characters in my eyes. I never considered Iron Fist all that seriously, though. I thought Luke Cage made a pretty good transition from somewhat silly d-list hero to fairly relevant modern day hero, but I just hadn't seen that for Iron Fist until this series.

The good news here is that this series is a pretty fantastic example of how to make a good comic. The first two volumes really present one story, so I am sticking them both in this post. Here is what we get:

  • Daniel Rand in real life. We see him and his corporation and people he associates with
  • A nefarious and fairly outrageous plot involving Hydra
  • Really good history and background involving at least 4 people with RAND as at least part of their last name.
  • A mystical martial arts tournament between the immortal champions of 7 magical cities
  • A great deal of insight into the Immortal Iron Fist and the legacy of that title
  • Luke Cage and the new Heroes for Hire stepping in to help
  • Political intrigue in a mystic setting
  • Awesomely cool and fun depictions of fantastic martial arts at the highest level of mystical mastery.
The whole thing had a feel of a pulp adventure story involving the mysterious east and mountain climbing and cities that appear only once every ten years. There is unrest and treachery and revolution in the air, even as outside forces look to invade and destroy .

It's a romp. It really is just an excellent example of how to write a great adventure story. It has much more the feel of an adventure story than a superhero story. It's the nature of the Iron Fist character. This series works to give the character the sort of depth and weight that you would expect from a headlining hero. It's hard to think of someone as third tier when you have seen into their history and character so deeply. It's really good stuff.

The art is completely brilliant. The layout is terrific and David Aja is the perfect artist for this. There are some other artists who contributed in different spots as well, but Aja's work just makes the character, sets the tone perfectly, and compliments the writing to such a degree where what you get, really is even better than the sum of it's (pretty incredible to begin with) parts.

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