Monday, July 13, 2015


Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Frank Chiarmonte
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Michele Wolfman | Editor: Marv Wolfman

You are Iron Fist -- and you have failed.

Not a pleasant word, is it? But then, the truth is rarely pleasant.

And the truth here is that because of you, this man -- Lee Wing -- lies broken in body and spirit, his mind blasted by the full force of Angar’s minstorm! He is a shadow man now, a man who has no soul!

Because of you, his daughter, Colleen, is the prisoner -- the slave -- of some unknown foe who wants you dead.

Two friends, Iron Fist -- people who cared for you, believed in you, trusted you… and, in the end, needed you.

Two people you have failed.

The Plot: Iron Fist keeps vigil over Professor Wing, hospitalized since his encounter with Angar the Screamer. As he sits, Iron Fist flashes back to K’un L’un, when he learned that his friend, Conal, had taught a girl named Miranda the martial arts despite K’un L’un’s rules to the contrary. Conal and Miranda were arrested for this crime.

In the present, Colleen’s kidnappers deliver her to Master Khan in Halwan, who prepares plans to bait a trap for Iron Fist, using one of his own minions.

Iron Fist’s flashback continues as Conal and Miranda, sentenced to permanent mindwipes for their crime, flee K’un L’un. Iron Fist pursues. The group eventually finds themselves prisoners of a race of plant people called the H’ylthri. Iron Fist fights back against these creatures, but is unable to keep them from putting Conal and Miranda to sleep forever in their pods. The H’ylthri let Iron Fist live, however, and returns to K’un L’un.

Once more in the present, Iron Fist reveals that he's used his power to cure the psychological damage Angar inflicted on Professor Wing. Misty tells him that a lead on Colleen’s whereabouts has directed her to London, and Iron Fist agrees to come along.

Continuity Notes: All of the K’un L’un flashbacks in this story take place a week prior to Iron Fist’s debut in MARVEL PREMIERE #15. We learn that when Danny Rand challenged Shou-Lao the dragon for his power, it was in place of a man named Merrin, who had been trained for that purpose as well, leading to Merrin harboring intense jealousy for Danny.

Miranda Ran’d’kai makes her debut this issue. During the story’s climax she refers to Danny as her brother. She will make a handful of additional appearances over the next couple decades. Presumably they're both children of Wendell Rand, though I would assume them to be half-siblings since Danny never had a sister before returning to K’un L’un and his mother was, as far as I know, a mortal.

The H’ylthri also appear for the first time. Though minor characters in the grand scheme, they will play a role in bringing Iron Fist back to the Marvel Universe in the pages of John Byrne’s nineties NAMOR series after his apparent “death” a few years earlier.

As he describes the London lead to Misty, Rafael Scarfe reminds her that she used to be his partner on the NYPD. Misty says that was when she was a “whole woman”, then breaks a stone trellice with her right hand, readers’ first hint that there's more to her than meets the eye.

The lead, by the way, is that someone in the organization which kidnapped Colleen wants out, and will give himself up in London. This is the trap Master Khan prepared, and it doesn't fool Scarfe -- but Misty plans to investigate anyway since it's her only option.

On the final page, John Byrne reveals an exterior shot of K’un L’un in full for the first time. We also learn in this issue that Iron Fist can heal other people by touching them, but the effort takes a great deal of time (and will later be said to be extremely draining for Iron Fist as well).

My Thoughts: It's the calm before the storm, I suppose. In some ways this is a prototype for that X-MEN staple, the “quiet issue”. It doesn't follow quite the same pattern of Claremont’s later such efforts, presenting a couple of action scenes, but those encounters are part of Iron Fist’s flashback and therefore have no urgency to the present day’s ongoing plot. In fact, other than the brief interlude featuring Colleen and Master Khan, and another short sequence of Scarfe speaking with Misty, pretty much this entire issue is one long flashback.

Claremont uses the flashback to recall the last time Iron Fist failed someone, namely his sister, and contrasts that with his present day need to not fail either Professor Wing or Colleen. Though the K’un L’un setting still does nothing for me, I like the concept, at least. And I have to admit, this is the most interesting version of K’un L’un we've seen so far, though that's not saying much.

I suppose I should add that I would have no problem with a story set in the present where Iron Fist goes back to his homeland. It's all the flashbacks, which have no real bearing on his ongoing stories, other than thematically, which bug me. I really don't care about the past all that much, at least when it comes to Iron Fist. I like knowing where he came from, but I'd rather see his stories propel him forward, away from that place, rather than constantly look back at it.

Lastly, I can't help wondering if the Merrin character here is intended to be Steel Serpent, who we met last issue and who is, as of now, still unnamed. I believe that when the character finally confronts Iron Fist (still some time in the future), his backstory is similar to Merrin’s -- but I could be misremembering. At any rate, Steel Serpent’s name will turn out to be Davos Kung, so if this character was intended to be him, that didn't last long.

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