Today I read Kaare Andrews’ Iron Fist: The Living Weapon. As part of the Marvel Now! line, it is the newest entry into the Iron Fist mythos. As such I wanted to read it as a response to my last post, which was Marvel Premiere 15, his first appearance. I am so glad that I read that first, because Kaare’s story builds heavily on that first issue. I’m not going to go into great detail the plot of this book, but there will be some spoilers, so watch out if you still plan on checking this book out.
As far as I know this is the first book I’ve read with Andrews’ writing. I’ve seen his art before, but never read his writing. I felt I needed to check this book out for 2 reasons. Andrews hails from where I currently call home, Saskatoon. I have to support local talent. Secondly, it’s an Iron Fist book, and he is one of my favourite Marvel heroes.
I’m still not quite sure exactly how I feel about this book. Overall I liked it, but I saw areas that I didn’t like and areas that I personally would have don things differently in. Recently, Iron Fist has had some pretty good stories, both as leading man, and as a supporting character, so this book had some big shoes to fill. Do I think it held up. No. Do I think that this was still a good story? Absolutely. Kaare makes the jump origin to present quite well, tieing both together, while ignoring but not eliminating previous stories. It is a great jumping on point for new readers. Andrews retells Danny Rand’s arrival at K’un-Lun through interviews with a journalist in the present. This is the part of the story that I don’t like. If you remember from the last post, Danny, his father, his father’s business partner Maechum, and mother are in search of K’un-Lun, when Danny’s father is killed by Maechum. His mother chooses to keep going without the partner and saves Danny from attacking wolves as they enter the city. In this version most of the details are the same except for these: Danny’s father is crazy, and Danny’s mother and Maechum are having an affair. She still keeps on going without him after the murder, but it gives him a little more motive to kill. I don’t like either of these changes. It may be more realistic, maybe even more compelling to readers, giving Danny and his parents flaws. However, I’m old school and I like my heroes to be shining examples of humanity. Someone I can strive to live up to. A man with flaws is who I am already. The other direction that I wasn’t happy about is that Danny is not his fun-loving self, he is now a dark brooding, more Matt Murdock type character. (Kaare Andrews on Daredevil? I’d read that for sure)
Anyways, the story takes Danny through some twists and turns, he’s running his company but his tower is in shambles, he’s attacked by ninjas, his mentor is killed, and K’un-Lun is destroyed. His journalist, who starts off just as a dinner date and one night stand actually ends up being a compelling character, whose got something up her sleeve. There are 2 Kung Fu girls, one in the present and one in his past, that are also building up to something. (The trade I read is only the first 6 issues and start off the story, but don’t conclude it, which I am fine with.)
I found the first 2 issues fairly good, they read well but I didn’t like the broodiness. The next two left me reading just to get it done, I felt like it was too big of a change to the backstory and it wasn’t really going anywhere that I wanted it to. But issue 5 and 6? They were great. They really brought everything back and gave me the surprises I like to see in a story. It turns out that the people who were doing all these things to Danny, attacking him at his home, destroying K’un-Lun, killing his mentor, etc. they were the guys that Danny fought in Marvel Premiere #15 – the Challenge of the Many and the Challenge of the One. What really brought it home was that the robot who was that the Challenge of the One (it is revealed in the end that he was a robot, I didn’t mention that in the last post because it didn’t seem relevant) was initially thought to be Danny’s “crazy” father, but it was just his fathers face attached to the robot body. That revelation blew my mind.
I feel that, while this isn’t the best writing I have ever seen, it is an early piece of Andrews’ work and it shows a lot of insight, and depth, there are just a few kinks that he will iron out as he grows. I may have enjoyed it more if it was more to my expectations of who Iron Fist is, but that is my own bias getting in the way of my criticism.
His art I was actually quite fond of. I’ve looked at this book a few times and not known if I could get into it, but as I kept on reading it kept growing on me, and now I just want more. His panel work was great. One thing I noticed was that several times, in seemingly random spots, he would have “death” hidden into the panel work. My favourite point in the book is when he has helicopters coming in, and the panels transform from panels into the sound effects of the helicopters on the next page. It reminded me of dreaming about my alarm going off, and then slowly realizing, “Oh crap, my alarm is going off!”. You can check out more of his work in Spider-Man/Dr. Octopus: Year One and Astonishing X-Men: Exogenesis.
Mr. Andrews, I look forward to more of your work in the future.
Thanks for reading!
image from http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/7/73958/3706178-3705122-ironfist2014003.jpg, http://x.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/2/a0/4fdb68ee3efa2.jpg, http://media.comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Iron_Fist_1_TLW_Second_Print.jpg