Ask any comic book fan what one of the biggest surprise hit series has been in the past two years and they’ll tell you that it’s the Immortal Iron Fist. Boosted by the combined writing talents of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, the series had a healthy dose of pulp mixed with the kung fu super-heroics that made the initial series so cool (yes, Iron Fist was once cool).
After the departure of both Brubaker and Fraction, many thought that the series was doomed. Writer Duane Swierczynski has proven them wrong. Speaking for myself I dumped the title after the star team departed and on a whim picked up a random recent issue months later. Swierczynski’s first storyline was so strong and full of character that I was hooked all over again. He even achieved the nigh-impossible by introducing a new idea to Danny Rand by having him neglect the years of teaching that the monks of K’un L’un had bestowed upon him in order to defeat his foe.
The latest issue is in the time-honored tradition of what is referred to in the business as a ‘filler,’ but any fan of the Immortal Iron Fist can tell you that these are often the best issues to read. After introducing the concept that Danny Rand was not the only man to bear the mantle of the Iron Fist, it has left the door open for takes of Iron Fists past which are always fun. As I had mention in a previous post, my personal favorite is the homage to the Shadow (of sorts) Orson Randall.
The latest issue instead jumps forward in time to the year 3099 and the fate of the latest Iron Fist, Wah Sing Rand. Entitled Wah-Sing Rand and the Mandate of Heaven, the issue is a tale of desperation and dissolution as the population of an entire on the outer reaches of space embraces extinction. A few brave souls reach out to K’un L’un, sending a message for help that each year becomes that much more bleak. The final reveal of the latest Iron Fist is a great moment that I will not spoil but it certainly leaves open many opportunities.
Each past Iron Fist story has been some sort of homage to another time and the latest issue is no exception. Part Akira, part Dirty Dozen (enlisting the aid of an outsider), this is a brilliant mixture of super hero, western and cyberpunk-punk ideas.
The art by Seth Green is a treasure on the page as his distinct line work comes alive. I’ve been a big fan of Green’s since his work on the DC Comics series ‘Faction’ and of anything he has grown as an artist since then. I’m hoping that the inclusion of his pen here is a sign of more to come.
If you were a former reader who had lost hope in the series being any good or if you have never read Iron Fist at all, this is a fantastic jumping on point.