Or – “A Study In Contrasts…”


Daniel Rand. Introverted son of wealth.

Orson Randall. Self-destructive drug-addicted wanderer.

Both bearers of the burns of Shou-Lao, channelers of the power of the Iron Fist, both men of great drive and integrity, both heroes in wildly divergent ways. Both are men out of place, both are incredibly devoted to their friends, and neither would believe how similar they are. Now, after Orson’s death, Danny has to track down the loose ends of his predecessors life, only to find that the legacy of the Immortal Iron Fist and the Rand family fortune may be more closely tied than he ever expected.

Previously, on Immortal Iron Fist: When Daniel Rand took the role of Iron Fist, he had no way of knowing that it was a legacy centuries old, for one simple reason: his predecessor had absconded with the Book of the Iron Fist, and that history was lost to IF1.jpghim, seemingly forever. Yu-Ti, the August Personage In Jade, and Lei Kung the Thunderer chose to withhold the real history of the Iron Fists from their new young charge, and thus Danny was mightily surprised to find someone ELSE channeling the power of the dragon’s heart. His encounter with Orson Randall led to the essentially suicidal Orson finally finding his heroic end, leaving Rand with more questions that before. Immediately afterward, he was pulled back into the fold by the Thunderer and the August Personage to participate in a fighting tournament with the other “Cities of Heaven.” Facing the sensational character find of 2007, Fat Cobra, Danny loses (and even HE isn’t sure if it’s on purpose) and leaves K’un Lun to track down Orson Randall’s personal biographer, the man called Lucky Pierre, and finally learn about his origins. Danny’s resources make him a formidable detective (unlimited funds tend to do that, don’t they, Bruce Wayne?) and he quickly finds “LP,” in reality a writer called Ernst Erskine… Arriving at the man’s home, he introduces himself. “I’m Danny Rand, Mr. Erskine. I cam to ask you about Orson Randall, my predecessor.”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENTI kind of like the use of Hydra here, giving a bit more history to a group that had previously been thought to have been founded during World War II. Danny and Ernest make their way through the retirement home where he lives, and ‘Lucky Pierre’ explains that Orson’s mojo has already been seen to wear off, as one of Orson’s old compatriots has already died this week, and the others are suddenly feeling more their age. “We are very old here, Mr. Rand. Magically so, I suspect. And in these last few weeks, we’ve begun falling apart.” Danny tells him that Orson died as a hero, and Ernest is happy that at least it wasn’t an overdose. He tells the new Iron Fist that if Orson is dead, and Danny is here, then he’s obviously come to find Orson’s biography and that dangerous people are on his tail, and proceeds to tell the story of how Orson became wanted by dangerous people himself. The year was 1928, the place is a small drinking establishment in the Himalayas called The Adventurer’s Club…


Lucky Pierre wonders if the Lords might be willing to an interview for his book, and Orson replies, “Oh, absolutely not. Fact is, I suspect they’ll be trying to kill us soon…” As if on cue, the three wanderers leap up, kicking over their table and calling Randall out. Even with the coruscating energies around them (beautifully drawn by the legendary Dan Brereton) Iron Fist makes short work of the three Lightning Lords, remarking “Y’know, I always DID figure there were about two Lightning Lords too many…” Heh. His moment of triumph lasts only moment, however, as he is shot down from behind by another bolt of lightning and a somewhat familiar face (or more properly, a familiar TITLE) comes through the door…


She roars out in anger at Orson’s cowardice, ordering her electro-lackeys to blow him up real good. They combine their powers and merge into… (Wait for it…) SUPER LIGHTNING LORD!! Electric Demon of Manaslu!! Dun dun DAAAAAH! Orson is blasted right out the door of the tavern, landing several yards away in the snow, just as Lucky Pierre rides up on horseback, pulling him up and racing away on the Lightning Lord’s favorite horse. Ernest remembers this as the only time he ever took such a visceral role in Iron Fist’s history, telling Danny that his bond to Orson was stronger than ever, afterwards…


Hmm… Whatever is going on with that nurse’s hand can’t be good, now can it? With a bounty on his head, Orson’s adventures changed tone, becoming more urgent, turning into a mission. “We went on the offensive for the first time, rather than simply playing defense… The hunted had decided to go on the hunt.” Iron Fist and Lucky Pierre began travelling, creating a network of friends and associates that served as their surrogate family, something that Danny understands VERY well. (Sweet Christmas, anyone?) Some months later, in New York City, Orson has assembled his pals into a group called The Confederates of the Curious, and has found himself at the mercy of what I can only describe as hookers with Tommy Guns, the Nine-Fold Daughters of Xao. When they tell him that his run is over, that he will finally die alone, Orson looks up and points out the blimp filled with his friends, remarking “Who said anything about ALONE?”


Suddenly, one of the women pulls off her wig, revealing a mass of white-blonde hair, and begins firing at her confederates. “Contessa Hera Vidal hears the pleas of ALL sinners… they make the best party gossip!” Orson and his friends quickly tear into the girls, punching, shooting, and mesmerizing the ladies of the evening (while Barko just bites ’em.) I love the whole ‘Doc Savage’ feel of this group, especially since this is now officially in Marvel continuity… There hasn’t been a whole lot of love at Marvel for the pulp-type heroes, and now I think I’d like to read the ongoing adventures of the Confederates. One of the Nine-Fold draws a bead on Orson, swearing that on the life of her Grandfather, the Lightning Lord of Nepal, Orson Randall will now die!


Wendell Rand saves his mentor’s life, winging the gunman (gunwoman?) as the Iron Fist waves in appreciation. “No worries, boss! We gotcha covered!” Lucky Pierre is not so exuberant, having come face to face with his own inability to fire, something that obviously bothers him. As the ladies fall, Shadu the Shady (a conjurer/mesmerist in the Mandrake the Magician vein) calls out that their mission objective has been found…


Ernest explains to Danny that this will was the beginning of what would become the Rand family fortune, explaining how an orphaned boy who barely made it to K’un Lun with the clothes on his back became a Captain of Industry. As he finishes his tale, Ernest finds Iron Fist asleep in his chair, and startles him awake with a clap. “Apparently, the loud start is every Iron Fist’s secret weakness.” Ernest again seems to be enjoying how much the new Fist reminds him of his old friend, and calls to his nurse for some coffee. The man Orson called Lucky Pierre spins another historical, this one a story from 1963. He believes that he is dying of tuberculosis, but Orson has taken him back to Asia, and they find themselves on top of a train, barrelling top speed through Manchuria. Orson refuses to let Pierre kill himself, simultaneously fighting off a horde of Hydra goons, and telling Pierre the truth of where they’re going…


Orson reveals that Xao, the Lightning Lord, has sent the Hydra agents to kill him, but if they can reach K’un Lun, he thinks that a cure for Pierre’s TB can be found. They skulk about, trying to find the person or persons who found K’un Lun, only to see Wu-An, an old associate, and backtracks his steps to find the portal that Danny used last issue to get out of K’un Lun, built by Orson’s own father. “Wu-An must has showered him with treasure to keep this thing a secret…” And thus, the source of the Randall/Rand fortune is finally explained. Hydra’s agents track them, and Orson is forced to fight again… Lucky Pierre explains that, not long after, Orson used the healing powers of the Iron Fist to heal his friends lung problems, and that somehow, Xao’s minions always seemed to find them again. “Of course they come back,” replies Danny. “Evil never learns anything. That’s what keeps it evil. In fact, Xao’s minions are with us now…”


Danny launches through the window out into the grass, and takes on five agents, fully armed with automatic weapons, his only assets skill, speed, and keen woolen pants. He kicks the living bajeezus out of them before hearing a gunshot from the building behind him. Preparing for the worst, he races up the stairs, only to find that Lucky Pierre is still earning his nickname, and has finally overcome his thing about handguns, as his betraying nurse lies in an ever-widening pool of blood. “She was trying to smother poor old Chores, here. I had to do it.” He introduces Danny to his old friends, reminding him that he SAID they were long-lived, and the senile Chores mutters, “Is that Wendell?” Ernest leads Daniel to the library, a room lined wall to wall with notebooks… the entire life and times of Orson Randall.


Pierre assures his old friends that nothing is wrong, that there was just an old mess that needed cleaning up, and begins reading to his old friends the story of ‘Orson Randall and the Axis Automatons.’

This is a charming issue, reminiscent of the old serials that I watched on Saturday mornings on channel 41 out of Kansas City… Tarzan, the Shadow, Doc Savage. I really enjoy the history that Brubaker and Fraction have brought to one of Marvel’s most unique characters, and I find that every single Orson Randall moment ends up making the character even more endearing to me. In fact, the only real problem that I have with this annual is Howard Chaykin’s insistence on drawing Daniel Rand with a big, square head, and even that is a minor whine. The historical adventures are engaging and awesome, and both Dan Brereton and Jelena Jurdjevic provide gorgeously painted interludes of Orson’s history, and Howard puts such spirit and personality into Lucky Pierre that you have to love the old feller. Iron Fist is, without a doubt, the best thing Marvel is putting out right now, a good tale with just enough continuity to keep the old-school historians fascinated, balancing action for the punch-’em-up fans, and providing beautiful art every month, and this issue is no exception. Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1 is worthy, indeed, earning a nigh-perfect 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s obvious that this series is a labor of love, and it’s amazing to see all the various influences distilled into such a unique body of work…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. They do look very much alike but they have similar character design blond short hair, blue eyes, peek human condition, square jawed though usually Danny doesn’t have that square of a jaw hmmmm….

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