iron fist living weapon

Some of my problems with Iron fist: Living Weapon

I really hope Secret Wars deletes 2014s Living Weapon: Rage and Redemption storyline by Kaare Andrews from whatever the timeline will be after all the universes “smash together” or whatever is happening. 

Barely any of Danny Rands character traits or motivations which have developed the character over the years were even remotely touched upon. Focusing rather on his most overdone theme, his relationship with his parents, The same thing happened to Davos aka Steel Serpent, who was treated similarly, abandoning all character growth for no reason other than “shut up hes evil lets give him a metal robot tentacle arm”. 

Strange that Danny and Davos are the only characters from Iron fist to really show up, (other then his parents and Shu-Hu the Lighting which deserve their own post/rant) plenty of classic characters are killed or just don’t show up and instead we get very one dimensional new characters that are meant fill in a very “Frank Miller” esque character roll.One of which from recent issues may infact turn into the next Iron fist, an interesting idea I wanted sooner or later but I would’ve preferred done much better.

There is one final issue left of the series which I’m of course gonna have to read because I want to know how Danny and Davos are going to be left before Secret wars, whether I dislike the series or not Iron fist is my favourite marvel character and this has been the first series were I have to reread several times to find something I enjoyed. 

MARVEL COMICS ANNOUNCE NEW ‘IRON FIST’ SOLO SERIES!

The series will be written by Ed Brisson with art by Mike Perkins and debut in March 2017. The story will be a direct follow-up of previous series ‘Iron Fist: The Living Weapon’ and will follow Danny as he deals with the destruction of the mystical city K’un-Lun. This series is in addition to the previously announced ‘Iron Fists’ series which is also set to debut in 2017!

Iron Fist Predictions

Ma boi Iron Fist drops on Friday so I gotta make some predictions. I’ve read most the comics and even though I think the majority of the story is borrowed from The Living Weapon, Immortal Iron Fist, and Rage they will make a few changes. If you are not interested in spoilers, stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

*Spoilers*

Danny’s father, Wendell Rand started Rand Corporation with his business partner and best friend Harold Meachum. Harold Meachum wants to increase company profits by purchasing from Wai-Go Industries. Wai-Go Industries is an Asian manufacturer that sells drugs, guns, and has ties to The Hand. Danny’s father disagrees with this shady business dealing. With Wendell out the way Harold can take over the company and make billions. Harold kills Danny’s entire family by staging a plane crash when they take an expedition the Himalayan Mountains. Danny survives the crash and is adopted by Kun Lun’s ruler Lei Kung. He becomes the ultimate martial artist by defeating Shao Lao, a fearsome dragon. Receiving the power of the Iron Fist, he can gather and focus a superhuman amount of chi. He trains for years and vows to avenge his father’s death 

*Spoilers*

When Danny returns to New York I think Rand Corporation will be a billion dollar company and he will want to claim his rightful inheritance now that he is of age. He will have to prove his identity. I think the main antagonists will be Joy and Ward Meachum. These are Harold Meachum’s surviving relatives and new CEOs. They will want Danny murdered because he will learn of Meachum business ties to Wai-Go, want his majority shares with a seat on the board of executives, and expose them for illegal activities, money laundering, and extortion. Madame Gao is probably a tie-in from Daredevil. Her full name is Wai Ching Ho and this leads me to believe she is the head of Wai-Go.

In the comics, Iron fist biggest rival is Steel Serpent. He is an assassin sent by the Meachums to kill Danny. I think this will be altered on the Netflix series where the drugs shipped in are called ‘Still Serpent’ giving reference to the character. They show a picture of the drug on the second season of Darevil, it is a packet containing a white substance with a red dragon symbol. Hopefully, we will find out if Madame Gao is in fact the Crane Mother. He first meets Collen Wing went she posts ads for her classes. She fight in a series of underground fight clubs to support her dojo. Maybe Claire Temple shows up to take self defense classes from Colleen Wing. I do believe Clair Temple is the nexus that brings all the Defenders together. Danny dates Misty Knight in the comics but I think it will be flipped so instead Colleen is his love interest.

*Spoilers*

I doubt Netflix will have the budget to show Shao Lao as it should. Whether or not they can really delve into the magic and mysticism; showcase dope martial arts; and bring in Asian culture/Eastern influence to set Iron Fist apart from the other shows is the deciding factor of how great this series will be. I want to see a Beowulf type/Reign of Fire/Lord of the Ring/Game of Thrones level effects. I want to see ninjas. I want to see monks. Will they go all out? If not I will be disappointed. The major themes will be honor, mercy, and having to choose between his family’s legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist. 

I will give the series bonus points if they reference Master Khan, Scythe, or Yu-Ti with plans for a Shang Chi team-up in the second season.

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon Review

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, featuring the latest solo adventures of the titular Bronze Age Martial Artist Superhero, is burdened with the task of living up to its Eisner Award winning predecessor, The Immortal Iron Fist; a series that greatly expanded upon the character’s lore in a manner not unlike what Geoff Johns did with the Green Lantern franchise.

The story itself concerns one Daniel Rand, who was orphaned as a boy when his father’s business partner betrayed him and his family during a disastrous mountain climbing expedition to a Shangri-La-esque city called K’un Lun. Once there, he is reluctantly taken in by the warrior monks in charge of its upkeep and after years of intense training, earns the right to be their champion by defeating the immortal dragon, Shou-Lao the Undying, who is also the source of the life-giving chi that gives everyone that takes it eternal life. This nets him the power and moniker of the Iron Fist, a warrior that can weaponize that energy, mostly in the form of punching things and persons so hard that they explode.

As potentially interesting as that sounds, it was more or less just an excuse by Marvel to create a kung-fu superhero (and Danny wasn’t even a unique specimen in the Marvel bullpen as Shang-Chi will attest) to cash-in on the martial arts craze of the 70s as evidenced by the number of clichés from both genres present in his origin. Most obviously shown in how they didn’t really know what to do with him past that point; he bounced around a few very short-lived minis and anthology books and even with the aforementioned Immortal Iron Fist series, he’s mostly known for being the rich buddy of Luke Cage, another Marvel character used to take advantage of a 70s cultural trend, nabbing a spot on the latest Marvel vs. Capcom game, and playing a supporting role in the recent Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon as a stripped-down version of himself. Outside of that, he’s not known for being very deep or complex and his appearances post the end of his last book have just had him punching things and handing out dime store eastern wisdom for an easy narrative out.

In an effort to get at (or concretely establish) Iron Fist’s core, the writer has made The Living Weapon a more internal affair as it focuses chiefly on our protagonist’s physical and emotional struggles, though there’s no shortage of characters or subplots, and the stakes steadily increase as the extent and brutality of the villains’ plans are slowly revealed culminating in a breakneck, thunderous climax of wills and weaponry. The fact that it’s such a big departure from the tone of Danny’s last series and recent showings is a substantial risk and that it manages to work without tripping over itself is a big reason it’s worth looking into.

Perhaps one of the comic’s most striking features is that it’s written, drawn, and colored by one man ala Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Kaare Andrews, who is more well-known among comic book circles for his many comic book covers throughout the 2000s of the medium and some well-done 2-5 issue runs and minis, the most famous perhaps being Spider-Man: Reign, a brisk, moody, 4-part tale of an aged Peter Parker coming out of retirement to free a totalitarian New York that’s been jokingly referred to as Spider-Man’s The Dark Knight Returns.

The Living Weapon follows a number of similar story beats to those two books and perhaps that’s why its premise is a rather simple one as we follow Danny Rand on one of the darkest nights of his life as an inexplicable bout of ennui (and a young child being attacked by a horde of robot ninjas) clue him into a dark scheme that aims to sabotage and exploit his powers to some abominable purpose. That last part is nothing really new, as like with Tony Stark and his suits, Danny spends a lot of his own stories trying to stop people from stealing his magic kung-fu punches. But as mentioned before, this is more about deeply studying what’s all ready there and making a definitive story out of that using many of those existing elements.

I don’t say that lightly. Despite being a more meditative and severe character, this Iron Fist is very much the man who did go on all those two-fisted adventures, but all that history has created a gulf between him and his past, making it appear alien and hostile. In addition to entering Danny’s headspace, we also get glimpses of his oftentimes glanced over childhood that encapsulates the death of his parents and his very early days in K’un Lun. His younger self is almost a character in his own right, as he goes through his own trials in his attempts to deal with the loss of his family and navigate a culture that considers itself enlightened, but revels in violence and elitist traditions.

Diving headfirst into such dark material and poking holes in such hypocrisies could make for a clumsy attempt at deconstruction, but the ordeals of both Rands are delivered with sincere emotion and intelligence. Their melancholic musings are smartly written and their examination of the multiple facets of his situation show that Danny’s put a lot of thought into them all. It makes for a nice contrast to the spoken dialogue in the book that’s rather wry when it isn’t being hypnotically operatic and delightfully theatrical.

As far as it being a deconstruction, it’s got a lot of grim material to work with and it doesn’t exactly have to take the franchise into the realm of dreary very far as it was all ready situated in a pretty dark place: Danny’s origin alone has his mother throwing herself to wild wolves to give Danny time to reach the safety of K’un Lun and after his training was complete, when given the choice to receive immortality or go back into the modern world to seek vengeance on the man he deemed responsible for his parents’ death, he chose mortality and retribution. Andrews just takes these all ready existing moments and studies them, adding in some real gravity and weight to the afterthought pot luck of tropes used to create Iron Fist.

The supporting cast keys into that examination. For example, a (maybe) reporter named Brenda starts the story off by trying to write an article about Danny’s formative years, while a young monk escaping a conspiracy in K’un Lun to the arguable safety of New York parallels him finding tepid salvation at the city she is fleeing from when he was a child himself. In the past, you have his younger self meeting his martial arts trainer, Lei-Kung, and his daughter, Sparrow, who try to guide and raise him through the tragedy that brought him to their doorstep, even as the brutality of their culture renders the mending of his soul incomplete. Also included is a bombastic villain, whose being and motives are thematically resonant to all of the above and turns out to be an Iron Fist character so old and obscure that even longtime fans can’t blame themselves or Danny for not seeing him coming.

While it seems like I might be lavishing way too much attention on the Living Weapon’s writing, that’s only because all those nuances might get lost when presented with Kaare’s gripping artwork. Despite his greater background in film, the visuals of the book prefer to take advantage of the storytelling tricks that only the comicbook medium can afford, playing with light, the positioning of scene transitions, and the juxtaposition of visuals and narration to make the reader look at the entirety of everything written and drawn. The basic aesthetics of the work are also well done.

Danny’s protracted nightmare of an evening is basked in shades of red and black, perfectly contrasting the insane, fluid, and energetic feats of martial arts prowess that take place during it.

The escapades of his younger self seem to take place in an endless daytime of gentler colours that in turn make the aforementioned hidden corruption of K’un Lun stand out even more. 

His redesigns of certain characters are highly stylized to the point of exaggeration, but are nonetheless effective in how they each convey a sense of dynamism. You feel that the hulking mounds of muscle are capable of great feats of speed and grace and that the more lithe and compact fighters probably pack an immense wallop. 

I find that I must call attention to how he depicts the Iron Fist, reimagined here as a blazing aura that exudes enormous trails of energy that give it and its wielder a greater sense of size and power, especially when set alongside the arguably tamer ways it’s been illustrated in the past.

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon’s complete collected edition will be available this mid-aril, but its two TPBs RAGE and REDEMPTION (I’ve only posted one page from it in this review, because the rest of it is the most magnificently gonzo martial arts finale you’re likely to see this decade in ANY medium) are currently being sold at your LCSs, bookstores, and appropriate online retailers . New fans who want to know more about Danny after being exposed to him through other forms of media will be given a brisk introduction of his world, origin, abilities, and character, while more seasoned fans willing to give this different take on the franchise a chance may find themselves delighted with some of the weirder and more obscure parts of the Iron Fist mythos that Kaare Andrews weaves into his story. It’s a densely plotted and drawn series, a perfect and uniquely bizarre appetizer to Netflix’s new IRON FIST television series premiering this week.

So yeah, give it a try.

Iron Fist: Living Weapon #1

KAARE ANDREWS (W)

KAARE ANDREWS (A/C)

VARIANT COVER BY DALE KEOWN

Animal VARIANT COVER BY MIKE DEL MUNDO

Young Variant by Skottie Young

Blank Cover variant ALSO AVAILABLE

High above the city, in a multi-million dollar penthouse, Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, “The Living Weapon,” is haunted by the consequences of choosing death over life. A message from Iron Fist’s mystical homeland of K’un-Lun brings Danny back to his blood soaked origin of betrayal and vengeance! Revenge is a weapon that cuts both ways…. Will Danny survive the bloodletting? A one-of-a-kind kung fu action epic directed by the inimitable Kaare Andrews!

32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99