Monday, June 8, 2015

MARVEL PREMIERE #17

”CITADEL ON THE EDGE OF VENGEANCE”
Writer: Doug Moench | Artist: Larry Hama | Inker: Dick Giordano
Letterer: Artie Simek | Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Editor: Roy Thomas

You stand before the towering skyscraper, dwarfed by it in size… but not spirit. You have battled -- and defeated -- time, distance, assassins, the berserker called Scythe

…And now you are ready to confront the man named Harold Meachum, the man who waits within the gleaming steel citadel before you, the man who murdered your father

…The man who caused you to become Iron Fist --

--And the man whose projected death is the sole reason for your existence as Iron Fist.


The Plot: Iron Fist arrives at Meachum Industries and makes his way upstairs, past multiple deathtraps, armed gunmen, more deathtraps, a wolf, another deathtrap, a katana-wielding janitor, and another deathtrap. He enters Harold Meachum’s office to find a costumed assassin awaiting him.

Continuity Notes: Ever the master of the mid-battle flashback, Iron Fist recalls his father’s death at Harold Meachum’s hands -- err, feet -- as seen in issue 15.

As he ascends through the office tower, Iron Fist is observed by a ninja who later saves him from a laser trap, then vanishes.


The assassin on the final page will be named next issue as Triple-Iron, making this his first appearance. Technically there's a blurb here that promises “Next issue: The Lair of Triple-Iron!”, but it's unclear here that that's his name.


My Thoughts: Another issue, another new writer (though thankfully the same art team, and Hama’s layouts actually seem better and more lifelike than last time).

Unfortunately, it's more of the same. No lengthy flashbacks this time, but that's both a blessing and a curse. I’m happy I don't need to wade through more of Danny Rand’s childhood, but the lack of flashbacks makes the decompression here even more painfully obvious than ever before.


Iron Fist at least moves in this story, unlike the last two, actually crossing a street and ascending all the way to the top of a skyscraper, so that's a plus. But NOTHING HAPPENS in the frikkin’ issue. When you read a comic and the story as presented on page one has not advanced one whit by the final page, something is wrong.

And that's exactly what we have here: on page one, Iron Fist is after Harold Meachum. On page eighteen, he's still after Harold Meachum. Which is fine if there's some sort of advancement of sub-plots, or revelations made, or anything to make the reader feel like the story meant something. But here, Iron Fist has not met Meachum yet. He has not learned anything about Meachum (except perhaps that he's exceedingly paranoid). He has not learned anything about himself. Yes, he was saved by that ninja, but a four-panel sequence on the second-to-last page hardly qualifies as advancing the plot. There is no discernible arc of any sort to be found in this issue. It's just Iron Fist escaping deathtrap after deathtrap for eighteen pages. This story is the ultimate definition of “treading water”. Hey, Doug -- here's a thought: if you had nothing to say about Iron Fist and no story to tell about him, maybe you shouldn't have accepted the assignment.

Ugh.


Anyway, at least Moench’s scripting is good. He steps back the prose quite a bit here. The second-person narration remains and the captions are suitably over-the-top, but they're fewer and further between. So, if nothing else, at least this is a short waste of time, rather than a slog. Still, I can't help feeling sorry for the poor kids who lost precious minutes of their young lives to these first three IRON FIST installments back in 1974.

2 comments:

  1. makes his way upstairs, past multiple deathtraps, armed gunmen, more deathtraps, a wolf, another deathtrap, a katana-wielding janitor, and another deathtrap.

    A. I love the randomness of the wolf.
    B. I really want to see Meachum's business manager or accountant or someone trying to justify to the Board that Meachum is not a super-villain despite all the expensive death traps he seemingly installed in his office building and the fact that he made HR hire a janitor with martial arts skills.

    Also, Triple Iron, a villain I've never heard of/encountered before, looks really stupid, like his costume is made of those little sensors you get stuck to your body during an EKG.

    There's something reasonably clever/entertaining to the twist that Iron Fist fights his way through a death trap laden building only to find, not his quarry, but yet another obstacle to overcome, but I agree it needs a bit more than just that twist to hang the issue on.

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    1. We learn next issue, I believe, that Triple-Iron wears those sensors because he's powered by Meachum's computer. Still, though, I feel like a costume over the sensors might have looked a little better.

      I don't mind the semi-twist ending, and a story like this would not bug me nearly as much if there were sub-plots to visit every few pages, showing supporting cast members actually advancing some sort of overarching story. But since Iron Fist has no supporting cast yet (something Moench fixes pretty soon), that's just not possible. I almost with there were some flashbacks to K'un L'un here to break up the repetitiveness of the deathtraps.

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