Monday, August 3, 2015

IRON FIST #8

New York, New York… it used to be a nice place to live, its subway a pretty nice -- and safe thing to ride…

…And for the most part -- truth to tell -- the city still is, and its trains still are.

But there’s a time and a place for everything… just as there are places one shouldn’t visit and times one shouldn’t go…


”LIKE TIGERS IN THE NIGHT!”
Author: Chris Claremont | Artists: John Byrne & Dan Adkins
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bonnie Wilford | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: A street gang called the Golden Tigers accosts a group of tourists in a subway station, but Iron Fist sights them off. The gang members escape when a train arrives, distracting Iron Fist. Soon after, a young man named Bill Hao sneaks into the Tigers’ base, but is found out by one of their number.

The next morning, Joy Meachum sends Davos to investigate some of her Uncle Ward’s underhanded business practices. Elsewhere, Danny Rand meets Jeryn Hogarth and Misty Knight, and the trio heads for the Meachum Building for a meeting about getting Danny his share of the company. But the Golden Tigers choose that moment to invade the building, storming into the board room with an ultimatum for Joy.

Continuity Notes: Among the tourists in the opening scene is John Byrne, with a girl on his arm. Later, after the gang members have fled, Peter Parker is seen trying to cross the police line for photos, to the irritation of Mary Jane Watson, with whom he is on a date.

Rafael Scarfe returns to the series for his first non-flashback appearance since issue #2.

Bill Hao’s thoughts indicate that his brother, Robert, is the leader of the Golden Tigers. The Tigers are seen taking orders from a masked man named Chaka. It doesn't take much to put two and two together here. A girl named Cynthia Wu factors into the situation as well somehow.

The Golden Tigers are looking to take over New York’s gangs following the arrest of the Maggia’s Rufio Costa, seen in DAREDEVIL ANNUAL #1.

Danny spends the night in his parents’ home, which Hogarth has kept up for the past decade. While there, he recalls learning last issue that Yu-Ti betrayed his father, then he indulges in several brief flashbacks to his childhood in the house, as well as recalling his parents' deaths in MARVEL PREMIERE 15.


Joy Meachum is now plotting against her Uncle Ward, thinking that soon he will be "dealt with."


My Thoughts: Ahoy, Dan Adkins! While Frank Chiaramonte’s work improved drastically from issue to issue, it is Adkins who I most associate with John Byrne’s IRON FIST run. His smoothness complements Byrne’s clean style beautifully. Byrne has said before that he asked for Adkins as his inker on this title as repayment for Adkins offering to mentor Byrne years earlier. Byrne didn't take Adkins up on the offer, but appreciated it enough to request Adkins’ assignment to IRON FIST.

Byrne has also praised Chris Claremont’s handling of Danny’s flashbacks in the Rand brownstone, admitting that the narration on those pages brought him to tears even though he'd had no such emotional reaction when he drew them before the script was written.

(Byrne gets ragged on a lot, so I like to toss out stuff like this when I can. He may be a curmudgeon, but he gives credit where it's due and I feel that should be recognized as well.)

So what do I think of Claremont’s writing here? Well, he didn't get me weeping, but he turned in a pretty nice issue anyway. I'm glad to see Iron Fist embrace his new role as a superhero. A few issues back, in England, he admitted to both himself and Alan Cavenaugh that he was one. Now, he proudly announces himself as a superhero when challenging the Golden Tigers.


The Tigers, by the way, are a quintessential invention of Bronze Age Marvel. I'm sure the Avengers and Fantastic Four were fighting cosmic-level threats in this era as usual, but -- probably due to my love of Spider-Man -- I tend to associate the seventies with “street level” action. Gangsters, corrupt businesses, and, yes, gangs of various ethnicities. I do question why all the Golden Tigers, who seem to be Asian-Americans, speak in weird pseudo-Asian gibberish (“Gods of us all!”, one of them exclaims during the opening fight), and it seems that Chaka has been pretty shamelessly telegraphed as being Bill Hao’s brother Robert (is this even supposed to be a mystery?), but even so, from the fight in the subway to slowly developing sub-plots to the Golden Tigers themselves, this issue feels to me like Bronze Age Marvel at its best.

All that said, I also have a bit of a hard time with the fact that Joy and Ward Meachum don't realize Danny Rand is Iron Fist. They know, as established in prior issues, that Joy’s farher Harold lived in fear for ten years of someone coming to kill him. Even in the unlikely event that he never confided in either of them that he was expecting Danny Rand, they're also doubtlessly aware that Harold’s business partner and family disappeared ten years ago and then, after that decade had passed, the man Harold feared finally showed up in New York. Now Danny Rand is back too. Shouldn't we expect them to put two and two together based simply on this timing?

Oh, wait. This series takes place in real time for some reason. So Iron Fist arrived in Manhattan and Harold died two years ago. And Danny just now popped up. Never mind. Colleen was a prisoner of Master Khan for a year, remember.

Why on Earth does anyone think real-time comics are a good idea??

2 comments:

  1. The Tigers, by the way, are a quintessential invention of Bronze Age Marvel.

    Did they pop up elsewhere? I don't think I've ever even *heard* of them until now, but then again, I've read very little street-level Marvel from the 70s (a few highlights aside, for example, my Spidey reading takes a big dip in the 70s).

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    1. I don't know that they appeared in other series, but what I'm getting at is that they feel like something that could only have come from Bronze Age Marvel. The all-Asian street gang dressed in martial arts gear and tiger masks just feels like such a "seventies comic book thing", I can't imagine it appearing in any other timeframe or really even any other medium.

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