1974: Iron Fist

imageAs I enter into my second decade of focus I look at another Man Without Fear. While he only wore the Daredevil guise for a fraction of the time that Matt Murdock has, Danny Rand truly embodies, as a hero and as a man, the sense of justice and valour needed to fill that position. He has that because he has been playing the hero game for years as well. As Iron Fist, Danny has been playing a role in the Marvel Universe for a long time. After helming his own series, he was half of the Heroes for hire team, joining Luke Cage/Power Man for 75 issues of his 125 issue run.  We look, today, at Danny’s first appearance, from Marvel Premiere #15. The issue was written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gil Kane.

imageWe join Iron Fist as he is about to engage in a debate between four fellow martial artists. The discussion is over Iron Fist’s belief that he can overcome them in a battle. Using his hands and feet and their bodies as evidence, he delivers his argument before his judge and mentor, August Personage of Jade. After defeating his opponents, he looks to APoJ, and awaits his response. As he does, his mind flashes back to the day he came to this place.

They are high up in the Himalayan mountains, climbing, looking for a mythical city for which they can make their dreams come true. “They” are Rand and Meachum, partners in a company of the same name, and Rand’s wife and young son, Daniel. Rand is on quest to find a mythical land called Nanda Parbat, where he will battle the likes of Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins,  K’un-Lun, for reasons that are unknown to us, but we know it was to help make the world a better place. Meachum, who had once been Rand’s best friend, is there for other reasons. Taking advantage of a collapse of their surroundings, Meachum kills Rand, Mufasa vs Scar style. Have you ever wondered how Simba and Nala would have reacted had they witnessed Scar’s betrayal? Well, Rand’s wife reaches for her closest weapon, rocks. She starts hucking rocks at Meachum with terrible aim. Ineffective, but it gets her point accross. Meachum says he did it for love, as much as he did for control of the company. She keeps throwing rocks at him and he gives her the choice of coming with him, or dying alone. She chooses the latter.

Snap back to reality, woah, there goes gravity, as wells Danny’s daydreaming. Again he is facing APoJ, who tells him he has faced the many and is ready for the one. And out comes this big bruiser. Iron Fist lays blow after blow on him, to no avail. Eventually the brute stops taking the onslaught and turns the attack toward Iron Fist. He gives him the pummelling of the century. Then somehow, is able to create a dagger that shoots out of his hand. Danny gets it in the shoulder, but it puts the spirit back in him enough to dodge the next knife. His memory whips back to that of his frosty Himalayan trek.

His mother and him are making their best effort to make it home safely, unaware that they are not heading towards home, but rather away from it. Young Danny asks his mother if she believed in his fathers dream. She told him that one day she had, but now she doesn’t now and doesn’t know why she ever did. They here the sounds of wolfs and begin to run away. When suddenly, they turn and… wait for it…wait for it… BAM! They find a bridge leading to the city. They start to make their way across, but the wolves get too close form comfort. Danny’s mother, whose bravery he definitely inherited, sacrifices herself for him. Watching his mother die, he gets grabbed by cloaked men.

imageThe thought of his mother dying brings his focus to full. He brings his energy, all of it, from everywhere in his body, more energy than you would believe a body to have, and focuses it into a single part of his body. He pulls it all into his fist, which he uses to take our colossus of friend down. Okay. So maybe he didn’t focus ALL his energy, because he has enough to stand before APoJ one last time. APoJ then gives him the option, of immortality or death, and the issue ends!

I must say, there isn’t anything unique about this origin, we’ve seen the Himalayan mountain climb over and over, we’ve seen the death of dear ol’ dad again and again, we’ve seen people come through the ranks of martial artist appoints, but I still thought this issue was really good. Maybe because Iron Fist is one of my favourite characters. Maybe because it’s Roy Thomas who is The Man, and one of Marvel’s greatest early writers. He was the brains behind Conan, wrote the Star Wars comics. and wrote many of Marvels premiere series, including Dr. Strange, Defenders, X-Men and Avengers. Most famous stories of these, is probably The Kree/Skull War storyline. He created or co-created many characters, including The Vision and Ultron, the current Captain Marvel, Carrol Danvers, Adam Warlock, and Ghost Rider.

imageI don’t know why I like Iron Fist so much, but I do. I buy stuff just because he is in it, even if I know it will be bad. My first big read was Ed Brubaker and Matt Fractions’ work of the character that spun out of his turn in the Daredevil suit during their run in that book and in Civil War. Immortal Iron Fist worked in a lot of the old cannon and made it relevant. They also built and expanded that continuity Geoff Johns style, making you ask “Why hasn’t it always been this way?” Swierczynski took over the series and did good work, but it wasn’t quite as good. Fraction built on that series later in Defenders, using a lot of other great characters as well and again in Avengers vs X-Men, a book with a lot of characters and a lot of creators, but I loved the K’un-Lun stuff. Okay fine, that series didn’t do well, and a lot of people hated it, but I loved all of it. He was also part of Bendis’ New Avengers run, which at its end was essentially built up of all my favourite characters.

I’ve pretty much only read more recent stuff, but, with the Netflix series coming out within the next year or two, Marvel will be putting out a bunch of trades including his early solo stuff as well as his early partnership with Luke Cage. I can’t wait to read it.

Thanks for reading. I’ve been super focused on things of the past and want to get back to current stuff. My reading of Trillium reminded me of that. So going forth I will also be doing current stuff, hoping to tie it in to what I’m reading from the past, so the next thing I will be looking at will be Saskatoon’s own Kaare Andrews Marvel Now! Iron Fist series.

Images from http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2208/3541664424_4a7ee94abe_b.jpg, http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/avengersalliance/images/0/0c/Heroic_Age_Iron_Fist_Right_Portrait_Art.png/revision/latest?cb=20130723211736, http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel//universe3zx/images/b/bf/Acotilletta2–Iron_Fist_modern_green.jpg, and http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f4/Power_Man_and_Iron_Fist_50th_Issue_cover.jpg


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