By Ed Brisson, Mike Perkins, Andy Troy, Travis Lanham, Jeff Dekal
Marvel is capitalizing on Danny Rand’s live screen debut with not one, but three books. Three different series with Iron Fist, with the first being David Walker and Sanford Greene’s Power-Man and Iron Fist. Iron Fist #1 by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, is the second.
It feels insane to think that such a C-list character is getting such exposure, even if that character now has their own TV show. While that is its own thing, and a large source of disappointment, the different comic series have a chance to offer more compelling tales of Danny Rand. While Walker and Greene’s series is akin to an offbeat comedy, with the third by Kaare Andrews will presumably be more like a grindhouse Kung Fu movie, this new series is left to lean to either one since they’re so tonally opposed.
This new series goes the safer direction, with a gritty and down on his luck Danny Rand traveling the globe. Due to The Living Weapon maxi, Danny has lost his connection to Shou-Lou’s Chi and K’un Lun, and with that, his powers. What is Iron Fist without his fist of iron? What is Danny Rand without his mantle? So he travels the world fighting the toughest opponents he can find, but never finding any who can actually challenge him. A mysterious man approaches Danny in a bar, and offers him to fight in a tournament on a remote island called Liu-Shi.
Brisson’s script is simple but effective. We’re seeing Danny at a low point in his life, but still close to the man most know, and it works without knowing the details of Andrews’ run. It’s a brief character study, but its much more satisfying than 13 hours of the Netflix series.
The real standout from the issue is Mike Perkins art. I’ve seen him before in The Stand: Captain Trips and House of M: Avengers, and while he’s not the first name I would’ ve picked, he proves to be an excellent choice. Perkins’ greatest strength is in his storytelling, in how he uses his panels to convey the action in scenes. The art is heavily shadowed, but sets the tone for the book well. Perkins makes the hits seem real, and as an added bonus throws in actual Kung Fu moves in the latter half of the book. It’s a minor thing that often gets overlooked next to the iron fist and flashy visuals. With Andy Troy’s colors, the book’s art becomes an arresting collage of red, blue and orange. The colors themselves help to differentiate the fights and there setting. A bar in Vietnam is constructed primarily of reds as Danny’s anger gets the better of him, or a dispassionate fight in a warehouse alternates between blue and orange.
Iron Fist #1 is a revelation after the disappointing TV show, but with the overwhelming number of titles it may have a hard time distinguishing itself especially against two other series which feature Danny Rand. Yet, it’s very solid and grounded in a way that works: its about Danny Rand searching for purpose, and Kung Fu. If this series can keep those two things in focus with stellar art, it should find a following.
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