Wednesday, July 29, 2015


”In the name of the immortal Master Khan--“

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Frank Chiarmonte
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bonnie Wilford | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Colleen saves Iron Fist from execution, then engages Angar and Master Khan’s men while Iron Fist chases after the fleeing Khan. Meanwhile, not far from Khan’s palace, Misty engages in target practice and chats with Jeryn Hogarth.

In the palace, Iron Fist confronts Khan, who attempts to save himself by opening a portal to K’un L’un and offering Iron Fist a chance to return there. When Iron Fist refuses, Khan tries to sweeten the deal by exposing the treachery of Yu-Ti, who stands at the other side of the portal. But still Iron Fist refuses, instead destroying the mystical crystal Khan used to open his portal. Khan is sucked into the ensuing maelstrom despite Iron Fist’s attempt to save him.

Later, Iron Fist and Colleen reunite and head for Jeryn’s plane.

Continuity Notes: A footnote tells us that the events of last issue happened “only minutes ago”. That's a relief. I was afraid Khan had been prepping Iron Fist for execution for a full month or more.

Colleen fights Khan’s men using a katana Iron Fist brought to her at Misty’s behest. Armed with the sword, Colleen becomes the fist in a long line of Claremont She-Warriors, far outclassing every man she faces. She pretty definitively appears to kill Angar, but he will return alive and well in future comics.

Misty seems to be developing feelings for Iron Fist, to the point that she threatens Jeryn should he attempt to screw his new client out of his inheritance.

Khumbala Bey, last seen in issue 25 of MARVEL PREMIERE, returns to fight Iron Fist as he pursues Master Khan. Bey has lost a lot of weight over the past year. He had sumo-like proportions when last we saw him, but now he's built like a traditional muscle-man. Strange thing is, Byrne drew both of Bey’s appearances.

Master Khan demonstrates sorcerous powers, using multiple spells in his fight with Iron Fist, including Dr. Strange’s mainstay, the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. When Khan shoots some eldritch energy at Iron Fist, the Living Weapon is shocked that his body absorbs the energy rather than being harmed by it. He recalls that something similar happened in issue 4 against Radion.

Khan reminds Iron Fist that his vengeance on Harold Meachum was exacted in MARVEL PREMIERE #18 by Khan’s own ninja. He also explains his desire to rule Halwan is born of the day one of the nation’s previous rulers had his daughter executed.

Iron Fist learns of Yu-Ti’s betrayal of his father here, only an issue after Claremont retroactively established it. For the record -- and I'm not saying this is good or bad -- in most later Claremont comics, something like this would probably stew for several issues, if not a year or more, before coming to light.

My Thoughts: First, what's up with the cover? Drawn by Ron Wilson, according to, it depicts Iron Fist in mortal combat with -- Khumbala Bey? Really? The issue features the long-awaited showdown between Iron Fist and Master Khan, the man who has been orchestrating most of Iron Fist’s obstacles from behind the scenes for the past year, but instead we get a depiction of the fight which Claremont’s own in-story narration describes as “…a short fight, and the outcome is never in doubt”?

If Bey were a more menacing sort of villain than Khan, I could understand this. But, his imposing stature notwithstanding, Bey isn't all that interesting visually. He's just a big dude. Khan, on the other hand, is a very sinister looking character from the classic Fu Manchu mold. Plus, like I said, he's been the main villain (albeit behind the scenes) for a year now. I feel like Wilson dropped the ball here.

Moving along to the issue’s story: I'd call it a decent conclusion to this protracted epic. Iron Fist gets his showdown with Khan, Colleen gets to go one-on-one with her kidnapper, and Iron Fist learns about his uncle’s recently revealed treachery as well.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Yu-Ti suddenly becoming a villain, but at least this time Claremont gives him a bit of depth. Last issue he seemed proud of his actions, posturing to Lei Kung and then to the readers themselves in a little soliloquy. But here, as Khan dares him to deny his actions to Iron Fist, he refuses to speak and seems almost ashamed of himself as he says, “I am what I am, Iron Fist. I can be no less.” So perhaps Claremont realized how one-dimensional Yu-Ti’s words looked last issue, and decided to fix them.

And then there's Colleen. She's awfully miffed here that Iron Fist deprogrammed her with that mind meld. I get that she feels invaded, like her soul has been laid bare to Iron Fist, but A) the meld went both ways, as is acknowledged here. She knows Iron Fist’s most private self, just as he now knows hers. And B) She was brainwashed and about to kill her friend. Iron Fist himself says that his only choices were to let her kill him, to retaliate and kill her first, or to try the meld and attempt to restore her. I think he made the right choice.

And I believe Colleen realizes this in the end, but she comes across as a little ungrateful before coming to that position. I get it in the heat of the fight, when she calls Iron Fist out, briefly, right after it’s happened. But when they meet up again later, after he's nearly killed fighting Khan and she's blown off some steam by finishing off Angar, you'd think she'd let it go, rather than berating Iron Fist once more for saving her.

And that's it for Iron Fist’s first extended storyline. A storyline which, in a way, dates all the way back to his third appearance in MARVEL PREMIERE 17, when Khan’s ninja first popped up!


  1. A footnote tells us that the events of last issue happened “only minutes ago”.

    See Chris, another reason real time comics aren't a great idea. :)


  2. I'm not sure of the in-universe chronology but, while he’s been dealing with Master Khan here, Fist’s DHOKF serial also written by Claremont was pitting him against one Dhasha Khan.


  3. Okay, I have returned — after following up on some notes I’d left for myself. (You don’t need to know this but I just discovered all these Iron Fist comments written up offline that I thought I had posted here several months ago.) While reading said Iron Fist DHOKF serial alongside these issues, via Marvel Unlimited, I was surprised to see the N’Garai pop up shortly after their introduction over in X-Men and fascinated to discover, just before Jean Grey’s reimagining as Phoenix sees print, the introduction of a woman imbued with the power of a mystic entity known as the Firebird. She’s no relation to the later superhero of that name but definitely of interest to anyone looking at the genesis of Phoenix in particular and more broadly at Claremont’s legacy of recreating women in more powerful incarnations (cf. Phoenix, Binary, and even Storm’s experience during the Brood saga). That aside it’s definitely worth checking out just for the art.