Wednesday, July 1, 2015


You are Iron Fist, and in a moment, you will be fighting for your life.

You are calm now as you face your opponent and assume the cat stance. Your breathing is easy, your muscles loose, untense, your mind and body honed to a near-killing edge. Every sense -- every particle of your being -- is alive, aware… waiting

You are ready -- almost eager -- for battle. And this is right -- for are you not the Living Weapon? And is it not a weapon’s purpose to be used?

Strange thoughts these… Alien questions. The answers had always come so easily enough in K’un-Lun.

Not so on Earth. And the more you question, the more confused you become…

Enough of this foolishness! Today is not the time for questions. Today is for battle!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: Pat Broderick | Inker: Vinnie Colletta
Colorist: Phil Rache | Letterer: Karen Mantlo | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: Iron Fist spars with Colleen Wing, then leaves to take a walk. Meanwhile, a group of terrorists infiltrates a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and activates a robot called the Monstroid, sending it to kill Princess Azir of Halwan.

Later, Danny Rand stumbles across a softball game in Central Park between the NYPD and the staff of Marvel Comics. Danny joins Marvel’s team as the game proceeds, with Princess Azir incognito among the crowd of observers. The Monstroid arrives to kill Azir, taking out all the police in the process. Danny changes to Iron Fist and challenges the robot, ultimately defeating it.

Elsewhere, the leader of the terrorists is reprimanded by his employer, Master Khan, who makes plans to either enslave or kill Iron Fist.

Continuity Notes: According to a footnote, the Monstroid first appeared in MARVEL TEAM-UP #5.

Lt. Rafael Scarfe is present on the police softball team and, knowing Danny’s identity as Iron Fist, vouches for him as a potential player. Chris Claremont himself, sporting a thick mane of glorious long hair, invites Danny to join Marvel’s team.

This issue features the first mention of Halwan, an African nation which will feature in a handful of Marvel comics over the decades. Evidently, Master Khan believes he has some claim to Halwan’s throne. Incidentally, Master Khan is shown this issue as having very dark brown skin, a change from his single panel appearance last issue and his original debut in 1960. I believe this remains his pigmentation going forward.

My Thoughts: Claremont’s strong grasp of Iron Fist and friends continues. This time he brings our hero into conflict with his philosophy, established previously by Tony Isabella, that men in K’un L’un are trained not to fight women. Colleen eggs him on, however, during their sparring match, which causes him to storm out in a huff for some private time. This is the sort of melodrama I like in my superhero comics. Previous writers showed us a lot of Iron Fist’s past and used those flashbacks to inform his decisions in the present -- but the only things he ever thought about were things he couldn't change: his parents’ fates, his decision to forsake immortality. These were events in the past and, while they may have fueled Iron Fist in the present, they were immutable and as such gave no real urgency to his conflicts.

But now we have Iron Fist’s upbringing actively interfering with his new life in New York, creating a wedge between him and Colleen, and providing him with an interesting personal conflict: will he continue to live as he was raised, or will he force himself to adapt to his new surroundings? The character’s life has become about a hundred times more interesting simply because he now has these issues. He has a life and a secret identity, and he needs to figure out how to assimilate into a world he remembers from childhood but which is incredibly alien to him at the same time. Two issues in and Claremont has given the series more depth and characterization than it had seen from four writers across eight issues previously.

All that said, the softball game was a bit much. I don't mind when creators work themselves into their own comics once in a while; it can be kind of cute. But Danny Rand joining the Marvel softball team (to play against the NYPD??) just seems a bridge too far for me. It's hard to articulate why, but I don't like it. I guess, in a way, it feels a bit like Mary Sue-ism, having your new character become best pals with you and your friends.

Art from Pat Broderick is still pretty good. Maybe not as lush as last time, due to Vince Colletta taking over from Bob McLeod on inks, but there are some attractive figures and interesting angles to be found. However, this is Broderick’s second and final issue on IRON FIST. John Byrne has said before that he owes his career to Broderick’s inability to meet a deadline on IRON FIST, and while I have a hard time believing Byrne wouldn't have been discovered by someone else in short order, whatever got him on the book is fine with me. Broderick has done a nice job on these two issues, but John Byrne is John Byrne. And John Byrne of 1975 is inherently superior to pretty much any other young comic artist of that era.

So next time, at long last, the final pieces will fall into place. Claremont will continue his Halwan storyline, but he'll be abetted by the brilliant work of John Byrne. It doesn't get much better.


  1. but the only things he ever thought about were things he couldn't change: his parents’ fates, his decision to forsake immortality. These were events in the past and, while they may have fueled Iron Fist in the present, they were immutable and as such gave no real urgency to his conflicts.

    That's a really great point. The difference between wallowing in internal conflict and using it to move a character forward. Heck, it's the difference between Silver Age Cyclops and Claremont's Cyclops (and, of course, plenty of other characters too).

    Agree with you on the softball game, too. I'm fine with stuff like having the creators in a crowd running from/commenting on the superhero battle or noting the title character in passing, but by the time they're directly interacting with the fictional character and, like, becoming pals, it's all a bit ridiculous and self-indulgent.

    1. Self-indulgent! That's the phrase I was grasping for. Amazing how you sometimes just forget common terms when you need them.