Marvel definitely don’t miss a trick when it comes to a bit of cross-media promotion. With the immortal Iron Fist having just landed on Netflix in his own solo series, Marvel are rebooting the character’s adventures on the page with Iron Fist #1, from creators Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins. Cleverly, the new comic shifts the character to be slightly more aligned with the version played by Finn Jones on the screen – though don’t let that put you off if you had mixed feelings about the series.
Though he isn’t the young ingenue as seen on Netflix, Iron Fist #1 sees Danny Rand likewise without his traditional costume and ripped from his adoptive home of K’un-Lun, the mystical city from where he draws his powers. The issue finds Rand at a loose end and suffering from an identity crisis, as his abilities have started to weaken after the apparent destruction of K’un-Lun. The question Danny must find the answer to is: who’s the Iron Fist when he can’t be it any longer? It’s a great idea, as it acts as an easy stepping-on point for new readers as well as a fresh twist for the old guard.
That said, the storyline of this first issue is a little simplistic and perhaps even cliched. With his powers failing, Rand has gone to seed in a pretty stereotypical way; fighting in backstreet brawls and dowsing his troubles in booze. Still, at least things pick up towards the end of the issue as a mysterious stranger from an unknown land offers Danny a new challenge that might just give him purpose again. Ultimately, issue #1 serves as a solid tease for the ‘The Trials of the Seven Masters’ story arc which looks to be a full-on kung fu action adventure (of the sort that the Netflix series largely failed to deliver).
Mike Perkins proves himself the perfect artist for this slightly darker take on Iron Fist as his work is so richly detailed and expressive. Perkins is a master at capturing the pained, concentrated expressions of Danny and his combatants, which brilliantly adds a realism and grit to the book’s many action sequences. Andy Troy does a fine job as colorist, preferring a muted approach for the bulk of the comic before switching to bright red, oranges and yellows as the location switches to Cambodia (and, symbolically, as Danny’s prospects start to brighten, as well). For the lettering – courtesy of Travis Lanham – a nice touch is the inclusion of captions labelling the different kung fu moves used by Danny in his fights. It’s a welcome reminder that Danny differs from most superheroes in that he’s a disciplined, highly-trained warrior.
Whether you’re a longterm Iron Fist fan or a newbie looking to find out more about the character after watching the Netflix show, this new book is a solid jumping-on point. It’s not perfect in its own right, but it does promise some strong material to come. Will Brisson and Perkins be able to match the heights of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s celebrated Immortal Iron Fist comic? Only time will tell, but we’re excited to see how things develop.
The storyline might be a little simplistic, but Iron Fist #1 serves as a solid teaser for a fresh take on the character that looks to be a full-on kung fu action adventure.