Wednesday, July 8, 2015

IRON FIST #1

You are Iron Fist -- And this night you are breaking the law.

It’s called by many names -- surreptitious entry, breaking and entering, trespassing -- but the meanings are all the same. You are where you should not be.

You do not care.

For this night you hunt Colleen Wing’s kidnappers. And their trail has led you here -- to Stark International’s New York complex -- a trail left by dangerous, desperate men…

…A trail marked with blood.


”A DUEL OF IRON!”
Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Al McWilliams
Letterer: Dave Hunt | Colorist: Janice Cohen | Editor: Marv Wolfman

The Plot: Iron Fist infiltrates Stark International’s New York complex in search of clues to Colleen’s whereabouts. As he sneaks around he bumps into Colleen’s partner, Misty Knight, also investigating the kidnapping. Misty leads Iron Fist to her Stark contact, security chief Don Cauley, but they find him dead. As Misty looks for clues in Stark’s mainframe computer, Iron Fist goes in search of Cauley’s killer.

An alarm alerts Tony Stark to the intruders in his facility, and he changes to Iron Man to go after Iron Fist. The duel of iron begins as elsewhere, Colleen’s kidnappers prepare to load her aboard a plane bound for parts unknown. Colleen nearly escapes her captors but is stopped by a mystery man with a tattoo similar to Iron Fist’s on his chest. The man turns Colleen back over to her kidnappers then goes on his way, making a phone call to Ward Meachum.

Back at the Stark complex, Irons Fist and Man fight it out until Misty breaks up their fight, having discovered that Don Cauley is alive after all. Cauley is part of a renegade faction within Stark working for Halwan, and he had drawn Misty to the facility to kill her. Iron Man apologizes to Iron Fist for the misunderstanding and the heroes part ways.

Continuity Notes: Via a flashback at the issue’s start, we learn that Angar used his powers to escape Iron Fist and Rafael Scarfe after they captured him last time. Due to Angar’s power, Scarfe believes the entire confrontation was a dream.


When Misty appears, a footnote reminds us that she and Iron Fist crossed paths previously in MARVEL PREMIERE #21. Misty confirms this issue that she and Colleen are private investigators and their company is called Nightwing Restorations, Ltd.

The mystery man who turns Colleen back over to her kidnappers will stalk Iron Fist for some time (all the way up to the final issue of his series and beyond!). Though not named here, we will eventually come to know him as Davos, the Steel Serpent.

On the final page, Iron Man gives his profuse apology for being unable to help track down Colleen, but unfortunately his “boss”, Tony Stark, has his own problems to deal with. A footnote directs readers to IRON MAN to find out what those problems are, though I'm unsure if this is a reference to a particular storyline or simply to the ongoing drama in any superhero’s life. But, at any rate, this seems an awfully flimsy excuse to cut Iron Fist off from valuable resources.

I wonder if Mr. Cauley’s successor as security chief was Vic Martinelli?

My Thoughts: The cover declares this is “the battle you've been waiting for,” and I have to believe that's true. We comics fans have funny brains sometimes, and I'm sure that from the moment Iron Fist made his debut, letters were flowing in asking when he would meet Iron Man, due simply to the shared word in their names.


And the answer is here, in the fist issue of Iron Fist’s ongoing series. This reads really weird for a first issue, and I can't imagine anything like this happening in the Jim Shooter era or at any point beyond. This is IRON FIST #1, but it picks up exactly where MARVEL PREMIERE 25 left off, even including flashbacks to stuff that happened after that issue ended. It's possible – even probable – that Claremont conceived this as MARVEL PREMIERE 26, and the decision was made after the story was well underway, or even finished, to give Iron Fist his own ongoing. I have to believe that if Marvel had known earlier that the character was slated to spin off into an ongoing, Claremont would've tried to wrap everything up in PREMIERE and then begin a new story fresh with IRON FIST 1.

But that didn't happen, and I can't help wondering what an odd experience it might've been for someone to pick this book up off the stands because it was a number one and they assumed it would introduce a new character, only to find it was the continuation of a story begun in another comic. Iron Fist’s origin isn't even recapped here, though his father’s death is at least referenced.


On one hand, if this issue turned a reader on to Iron Fist and encouraged him to seek out the previous MARVEL PREMIERE issues, that's great. But on the other hand, comic book shops, and therefore back issues, weren't all that prevalent in 1975, so that same reader might've felt a bit cheated at having missed out on all of Iron Fist’s prior adventures.

Byrne’s art is still lovely, though he doesn't have a great handle on Iron Man here. This is the era of Iron Man’s infamous nose, which robs his faceplate of its sleekness and makes it look unattractive by any standards. And with Byrne, who hasn't yet mastered the character, drawing it, it looks even worse. Somehow, everything I praised about Byrne last issue -- the clean shininess of his characters -- is missing from the character who needs it most. Byrne’s Iron Man reads dull and shadowy, not polished and glistening.


IRON FIST #1 may be a peculiar read for a first issue, but it's a decent advancement of Colleen’s kidnapping, and even introduces some new sub-plots, such as Iron Fist’s relationship with Misty Knight and the arrival of the Steel Serpent. It would've been nice if it could have served as a true number one, properly introducing new readers to the character, it circumstances made it what it is and it's a fine story regardless.

6 comments:

  1. You know you're a third tier book when your guest star is Iron Man. What, was Dr. Strange busy? I can't tell if it's the coloring, but something's definitely off with the art you're showing here.

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    1. The pictures are scans from my Marvel Masterworks, since for some reason none of these issues are available yet through Marvel Unlimited, so it could be something with the scanner settings.

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  2. You hear it said that the out-of-nowhere pairing of Iron Fist and Luke Cage was a really weird thing, putting together two of the seventiest things ever and heroes who both were facing a cancellation on their own. But, looking what Misty Knight is wearing I question if it was out of nowhere at all. Blaxploitation is going on the Fist already.

    I wonder what it would have been if they had gone for the THREE seventiest things ever and the heroes Claremont and Byrne were hiring were Luke and the Fist and Razorback.

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    1. There's definitely a good amount of "exploitation cinema" going on in this series, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. Iron Fist wasn't just about the kung fu craze!

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  3. I love that Misty Knight has an "MK" belt buckle.

    I agree that the Iron Fist/Iron Man shared word connection had to have been too strong to resist, and is the sole motivation behind his appearance here. And yeah, what an odd first issue. Claremont had to have written this expecting it to be in MARVEL PREMIERE. Even as a neophyte writer, he would have at least sandwiched in an origin recap if he'd known this would be launching a new series.

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    1. I thought about commenting on the belt buckle, but I figured I'd let the illustration speak for itself.

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