The cover of The Immortal Iron Fist #1, circa 2006
I think my classmates were surprised when they asked me in primary/sec school which hero did I like and I didn’t answer Supes or Bats, but Iron Fist.
Let’s face it, Iron Fist was always a comic-book ripoff of Bruce Lee and his mask eyelets were always too close to what Spider-Man was wearing. And until recently, his costume really sucked.
An old issue of Power Man (Luke Cage) and Iron Fist. Circa early 1980s. Note Daniel Rand’s terribly ching-cheong costume.
But as a kid, I found the concept of Iron Fist exceedingly cool. Who didn’t wish he could well up great chi in his fist and punch the heck out of evil-doers? Who didn’t wish to be a master of martial arts at the same time? And get to wear a mask like a Latino wrestler? Cool. Read all you want about Iron Fist here.
The character got a massive revival with The Immortal Iron Fist series two years ago, and yesterday, I finally bought the two trade paperbacks collecting 1-6 (The Last Iron Fist Story) and 7-13 (The Seven Capital Cities Of Heaven). Man, the artwork by David Aja is nothing short of inspiring and the writing by Ed Brubaker is rock-solid.
From Immortal Iron Fist storyline: The two Iron Fists give hell to Hydra!
Their interpretation of Daniel Rand – young, a little naive despite being a zillionaire, headstrong but with a throbbing vein of moral courage running through him that reflects the 66 Iron Fists that have come before him.
The addition of father figure Orson Randall, the previous Iron Fist, into the storyline, really fleshes out the curse heritage that has been passed down to Daniel. Suddenly, Daniel finds out he can channel the Iron Fist power into bullets or any other objects to rain lightning down on his enemies. Mega Cool.
Comic books are a paradox today. For generations, comic books were written for kids to inspire and to excite. Today, kids don’t read Marvel or DC comics not just because they are too expensive, but they’ve become too adult and post-modern. Iron Fist is no different, but I realised that each Brubaker storyline was written so effectively, the character continues to be a hero to its readers.
That’s a real breath of fresh air, because in an age where comic superheroes have become too imperfect (see Watchmen, Batman, Sentry, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the super underpowered Superman) for their worlds, and a comic universe where Marvel’s Civil War has turned heroes into law-breaking vigilantes, the IIF books revive hope that heroes can still save the day without losing themselves.
PS: A lot of people don’t realise it, but when you watch superhero movies like The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man, they don’t have a fraction of the angst found in comics. Adults who don’t read comics probably think that the pulp fiction hasn’t changed much, which is largely because the movies are based on material written two decades ago. Comics today are largely very dark, very violent, and really not suitable for kids. I’d rather Isaac read the 70’s Savage Sword Of Conan first before he starts reading any of the current Marvel titles.