Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MARVEL PREMIERE #18

”LAIR OF SHATTERED VENGEANCE!”
Scripter: Doug Moench | Penciller: Larry Hama | Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Letterer: Artie Simek | Editor & Series Originator: Roy Thomas

You stand poised in shock, instinctively assuming the defensive cat stance, and you listen as your bizarre opponent speaks to you…

And you watch in awe as his weapon pulses with an aura of coruscating force.


The Plot: Iron Fist duels Triple-Iron and defeats him thanks to a clue provided by the mystery ninja. He makes his way at last into Harold Meachum’s office, to find the older man crippled, missing both his legs. Meachum explains that after knocking Wendell Rand off the cliff, he had wandered the Himalayas aimlessly until he was found by citizens of Katmandu. They nursed Meachum back to health, but his legs were lost to frostbite.

While he recovered, Meachum overheard a visiting monk describe his brief time in K’un L’un on the day it appeared. Thanks to the monk, Meachum learned that young Daniel Rand had made it to K’un L’un, where he was being trained in the martial arts and was expected to someday take up the mantle of Iron Fist. Now paranoid for his life, Meachum returned to the U.S. and set his deathtraps, then waited a decade for Iron Fist to come for him.

With Meachum’s story concluded, Iron Fist departs in pity, unable to follow through with his plan for revenge. Meachum tries to shoot Iron Fist in the back, but the ninja appears to spoil his aim, then kills him and escapes. As Iron Fist stands over Meachum’s corpse, his daughter enters the room and immediately pegs Iron Fist as her father’s killer.

Continuity Notes: Triple-Iron is, inexplicably, a giant of a man with the mind of a child who has waited a full decade in his chamber for Iron Fist’s arrival.


This issue gives us our first (and last) non-flashback look at Harold Meachum. His daughter, Joy, also makes her debut here but is unnamed at this point.


If Meachum’s story is to be believed, then on the very day Danny Rand was taken in by K’un L’un, he began training under Lei-Kung the Thunderer, and the city’s lords decided that he was worthy of challenging the the dragon Shou-Lao and becoming Iron Fist. This seems a bit of a stretch.


When Iron Fist storms into Meachum’s office, a footnote directs readers to MARVEL PREMIERE #15 to see the fates of his parents.

My Thoughts: I'm pretty sure that if you had approached a comic book reader in 1974 and told him that a new hero’s origin story would take four issues to tell, that reader would have punched you square in the mouth and called you a filthy liar. But somehow, that's exactly what happened with Iron Fist. Here we are, four issues into his story, and he has existed in three locations in the present day: a K’un L’un arena, an alleyway in New York, and an office building directly across the street from that alleyway. Meanwhile, we've suffered through too many flashbacks to count, as well as a completely pointless issue about our hero ascending the office building’s floors. Seriously. Issue 17 could be completely excised from this run and absolutely nothing would be missing. I can't fathom how that happened.

But, on the plus side, Doug Moench has stuck around for longer than one issue, making him the first IRON FIST writer to manage that feat. And his work here is eminently superior to his effort last time. Things actually happen this issue! Yes, the fight against Triple-Iron is a pointless slugfest, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that if other plots are being advanced around it. And here we see Iron Fist’s meeting with Harold Meachum, the ninja actually does something other than “be enigmatic”, and we have a new conflict set up when Meachum’s daughter finds him dead, apparently at Iron Fist’s hand. Hooray for rudimentary fiction-writing skills!


However, that said, this issue isn't without its problems. As noted above, the timing of young Danny’s martial arts studies is questionable. Did he really get taken in and immediately begin studying under Lei-Kung? It makes no sense, but Moench had to do this to explain Len Wein’s revelation in issue 16, that Meachum somehow knew Iron Fist was in New York and had placed a bounty on his head.

(By the way, how did our hero get to the Big Apple so quickly, anyway? Did he hop a red eye out of the K’un L’un International Airport? I feel like that journey should've taken weeks and would probably have made for a fun story?)

Despite my misgivings about the timing issues, though, I'm honestly just happy this painful origin saga has come to an end. Maybe now we can finally start looking forward with Iron Fist, rather than visiting the past for several pages out of every issue.

3 comments:

  1. if you had approached a comic book reader in 1974 and told him that a new hero’s origin story would take four issues to tell, that reader would have punched you square in the mouth and called you a filthy liar.

    Ow, what a missed open goal, man! The reader would of course have called you "a dirty liar -- dirty, dirty liar!!"

    But K’un L’un... did they specifically state that it would be accessible only one day in every ten years, or is it vaguely possible that the accessibility would last an indeterminable period once every ten years? Like, just in case, and/or specifically if an American white boy would happen to wander in and be found out to be destined to be the embodiment of their ancient arts of Asian people?

    Triple-Iron is, inexplicably, a giant of a man with the mind of a child

    MasterBlaster rules the Barter Town!

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    1. They say it appears one day every ten years. At this point maybe they were keeping it vague; I hadn't considered that. I guess I was letting my knowledge of later continuity, in which it explicitly only appears for 24 hours at a time, influence my assessment here.

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  2. I do like the very Marvel-y twist that Iron Fist, in true hero fashion, spares his enemy, only for the enemy to die at someone's else hands and Iron Fist to get blamed for it.

    Otherwise, yeah, that sounds like a lot of deconstructed hooey.

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