Or – “Swan Song, Anyone?”

So. I’m back.  Those of you who listen to the podcast may have heard my oblique references to having a swollen arm and generally whining about something or other.  The clinical diagnosis is “tendonitis,” which means that my left arm swells, and throbs, and basically makes life miserable, and fine motor work (like, say, typing?) has a tendency to cause agony.  I’m mostly over this bout, thanks for asking, just in time to go on a bravado run of reviewing unmatched by any man, woman, or energy being in a tiny scale model spaceship in recent memory.  Provided, of course, that I manage my pain.  In any case, my return to active duty coincides (in a general sense) with the end of Brubaker, Fraction and Aja’s run on Immortal Iron Fist.  Danny Rand has been through the fire over the last year and a half, and now he’s ready to change his life for the better.  The problem is fate, as always, has a surprise or two up her sleeve for our Daniel Rand-Kai…

Previously on Immortal Iron Fist:  With the help of his hetero lifemate Luke Cage, his on-again, off-again girlfriend Misty Knight, HER hetero lifemate Colleen Wing, and a few friends in low places, Iron Fist has not only defended his adopted home of K’un Lun from the machinations of outsiders, but from it’s own ruler, Yu-Ti, the August Personage In Jade.  In so doing, he has also brought the other six legendary immortal weapons to Earth with him, finally come to terms with the life of his predecssor, Orson Randall, united the women of K’un Lun into an army, placed his former sensei, Lei Kung the Thunderer in power, defeated the forces of Hydra, and punched out a bullet train.  Not a bad afternoon’s work, all told.  Now, having overcome the greatest odds of his life, Danny’s focus now is rebuilding his life on Earth, as complicated as it is…

We start with Daniel in the dojo, surrounded by students, preparing to show them some real martial arts.  “What are you waiting for?  Your mommy need to sign a permission slip?” he goads, and nearly a dozen warriors attack as one, overwhelming the Iron Fist with kicks and punches.  He defends himself against their attacks, blocking each strike, impressed with the warriors’ form.  The funny reveal comes when we see that he’s teaching a class full of eight to twelve year old kids.  Danny has converted a Rand warehouse into a dojo/after-school center, providing tutors, and even an afternoon meal for underpriveleged kids.  “Thirty million-some hungry kids in this country.  Although the government doesn’t call it ‘hungry.’  The government calls it being ‘food insecure.'”  Danny overcomes this by making sure that every kid eats, every kid trains, every kid studies. 

Later that afternoon, he visits another Rand site, musing over how hard it is to deal with the changes he’s been making at Rand International…  “Namely, gutting it and shutting it down…  The Randall fortune was rooted in the blood and oppression of the people of not just K’un Lun, but of all of the Capital Cities of Heaven…  So I’m giving it away.”  Danny is surprised when Jeryn Hogarth, his number one money guy rrives, and tells him that it’s over.  “I need to go,” Jeryn explains, and Danny tells him that he was the heart and soul of R.I.  Jeryn smiles, and tells him, “No, I wasn’t Danny.  You were.”  Jeryn then broaches the subject of Danny’s blossoming expense account, and Danny whistles innocently.  Jeryn flat out asks if he’s bankrolling Luke’s Avengers, and Rand prevaricates.  “Noooooooo… yeah.”  Heh. 

Danny then heads to the secret hidden 13th floor of the Rand tower, where he finds the Prince of Orphans and the other immortal weapons (including Fat Cobra in a tie?) searching through mystic tomes for any clue about the rumored EighthCity of Heaven.  He tries to talk to the Bride of Nine Spiders, but she simply hisses “I knoooow what day it iss, Dannielll Rannnd,” in a very creepy fashion.  Danny then takes his leave in order to make another meeting, across town, which we don’t see…  except for the aftermath.  Danny and Misty Knight lay in a wrecked bed, both obviously exhausted, Misty drinking an entire bottle of water in one swallow.  “I would actually KILL a guy for fig newtons and some orange juice,” Danny gasps.  Heh.  Danny and Misty discuss their relationship, whether they’re a couple or what, and Misty gravely judges, “We’re complicated.”  Danny tells her he’s tired of complicated, and suggests they be something more, and Misty agrees to think about it. 

Later that evening, we find Mr. Rand in a cab with Luke Cage, taking his longtime pal to a secret destination… Times Square.  “Why is your logo on top of our old Heroes for Hire office?” asks Luke, and Danny explains the whole thing.  “I have billions of dollars… BILLIONS, Luke… that I’m gonna spend the rest of my life giving away…  Let’s see what happens to the world’s problems when we throw craploads of money at them.”  Luke is concerned for Danny’s health, noting that his pal is keyed up beyond belief, and hasn’t slept in days, and asks him if he even knows what day it is.  Something is up there..   Danny blows it off, explaining that they’re finally going to do some real good.  “I love, y’know, fighting Kang and stuff with you guys…  but ask a family that lives under a bridge about Kang, and they just want their kid to eat tonight, y’know?”  Luke agrees to help, and Danny then sets off on another mission , delivering coffe and blankets to homeless vets in New York shantytowns, before returning to his home to meditate.  As Iron Fist, he is finally grounded, tied to the past by his legacy, the history of the Iron Fists, and delves into the book, realizing to his horror that all the previous Iron Fists died at the age of 33…  moments before Luke, Misty and Colleen enter carrying a birthday cake.

Care to guess what the number of candles is?  This is a very well done issue, a perfect capstone to this team’s run on Iron Fist, taking everything that’s happened in the first 15 issues and REALLY using it to change Iron Fist’s life in ways both large and small…  They’ve managed, also, to make certain that the next writer has a playing field mostly clear of the rubble of their run (a nice touch) while setting up a couple of big ongoing mysteries to carry the continuity over.  Several Gatekeeper regulars have told me that they’re using this changeover as an excuse to drop Iron Fist from their pull list, without seeing what the new writer might have in store, and while I love Bru and Fraction’s issues, I’m not to that level yet.  This book has really, FINALLY, established Daniel Rand as a force in the Marvel Universe, a mover and a shaker, almost Batman level in resources and skillz, and that I appreciate greatly.  David Aja’s art is as awesome as ever, especially the moment of horror as Danny realizes that he may not have much longer to live…  It’s the total package, an excellent issue which proves why I’m going to miss this creative squad.  It’s 4.5 out of 5 stars, only missing perfect by the slimmest of margins (due mostly to my disappointment with Misty’s response to his proposal.)  Here’s hoping that this book stays awesome in the coming months…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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.

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  1. Cory
    July 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    I’m dropping it. Listen people, only follow your favorite creators. I can guarantee that Iron Fist will be cancelled 18 months from now if not sooner. Only Bru and Frac knew how to handle the character. Someone who’s been tainted by Cable can’t possibly measure up.

  2. July 14, 2008 at 9:33 pm — Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Cory.

    It should be noted, however, that half the fun of reading comics is finding a new pleasure. I wasn’t a fan of Brubaker before this book, having not been a Daredevil fan, but now I’m surprisingly impressed with him. I had him pegged as “that crime guy.”

    Certainly, if you keep your buying habits within the same narrow strictures, you won’t be disappointed very often, but you also miss those awesome moments where something new and different just sort of happens. Like this book. Or Walking Dead. Or any one of a dozen good books that you “guarantee” they won’t last… But, to each, as they say, his own.

  3. peterbr
    July 14, 2008 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    I only first picked up this book because of Major Spoilers, and I’m really glad I did. I’ll certainly stick with it for a bit and hope the new team can live up to the standards of Brubaker and Fraction. (Although I have to say, the change in writer on Atom really seemed to cause a change very much for the worse)

    The one (very minor) thing that bugged me about this issue is the comment Jeryn makes about Danny having been “more Gates than Bono” (or something along those lines), implying he used to be very selfish as opposed to philanthropic. I’m guessing Fraction hasn’t heard of the Gates Foundation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_foundation )? Which gives away at a bare minimum $1.5 billion every year?

  4. Mike
    July 14, 2008 at 11:17 pm — Reply

    If you only follow your favorite creators how do you get new favorite creators? Does someone tell you a creator is talented and you jump on the bandwagon or what?

    I say, read what you want to read, if you are personally entertained by it then keep reading. If it isn’t worth the 3 (or 4) bucks then it’s time to drop it. Really, it’s that simple.

  5. Josh P.
    July 15, 2008 at 7:13 am — Reply

    I think Duane Scuarniskaireuisfkdljd… gets a bum rap from Cable. Cable is an editorially driven book (I have no proof, but any book coming out of a crossover usually is. Fun fact: Cable’s original series spun out of the events of X-Cutioner’s Song, a crossover). The editors tell the writer the plot and the writer basically tries to make something of it.

    Duane (I’m not going to try to spell his last name) is a crime fiction writer if I remember correctly. So a more street level book may be his chance to shine.

  6. July 15, 2008 at 8:17 am — Reply

    You had me at Fat Cobra in a tie.

    I absolutely loved this issue, as I have loved Bru/Fraction’s entire run on this title. As I am very sad to see them go, I’m curious to see how the new creative team handles Daniel Rand and his band of Immortal Weapons.

    Give it a chance guys, don’t become overbearing fanboys just yet.

  7. Brother129
    July 15, 2008 at 9:49 am — Reply

    Awesome review. I think Bru/Fraction/Aja run has already gone down as a truly new classic run. Seriously, who actually gave a crap about Iron Fist before this series? I thought the best touch of the issue was the silent answer Misty gave to Danny by actually bringing him orange juice and fig newtons. C’mon fellas, isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day? A woman who brings us our freakin’ oj and fig newtons?? As always, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic and give the new crew a fair chance. I also hope that once the dust settles after Secret Invasion, he continues to have a prominent role in the Avengers books…

  8. Mark I.
    July 15, 2008 at 10:06 am — Reply

    As long as we don’t suddenly end up with a 17-year-old chick as Iron Fist on the New Warriors or something along those lines, I’ll continue to follow the character with interest.

  9. Jim
    July 15, 2008 at 10:19 am — Reply

    Did anyone else catch that Aja put a Brub and Fraction cameo in a panel when Danny and Luke are in Times’ Square? They both have blazers on, but you can see Fraction wearing a shirt underneath that would say “Casanova” and Brubaker’s shirt would see “Criminal” if not for the jackets. Nice touch on a final issue for that team.

    I hope the new team can keep it going. I feel like they deserve at least one story arc…

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