Danny Rand aka Iron Fist debuted in Marvel Premiere #15 in 1976. Back then he was Marvel’s answer to the kung-ful craze of the 70s.
Don’t believe it? Check out that costume and that disco collar.
In the 30+ years of his existence, Iron Fist was a C level Marvel character at best. His original solo series was remarkable mainly for debuting future Wolverine baddie, Sabretooth.
Iron Fist enjoyed a lengthy run as part of “Heroes for Hire” with Luke Cage, but even that series eventually ran its course. After 1986, Iron Fist bounced around without any real direction or motivation.
Fast forward to 2006, and someone finally figured out how to really energize this character. Those people were the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. It has been in the pages of this duo’s “The Immortal Iron Fist” that the character has finally found a true creative voice.
I picked up the first trade paperback volume, “The Last Iron Fist Story,” late last year and was immediately hooked. Brubaker and Fraction added liberally from the staples of pulp fiction to give Iron Fist a depth heretofore unseen.
They made him part of a long line of Iron Fists (Phantom). They introduced us to the previous Iron Fist, Orson Randall, and then to his exploits with a group of wacky adventurer buddies (the Shadow, Doc Savage), one of whom turns out to be Danny Rand’s father. They gave Danny a new future as a humanitarian. They evolved his powers to make him stronger, but keep that power within the confines of the character.
There has been a martial arts tournament featuring Iron Fist and the champions of the six other heavenly cities. There have been appearances by Luke Cage and Misty Knight. There has even been a civil war in the city of K’un L’un.
It has been a first class reboot of a very average character, and one I can highly recommend to anyone. The series has been collected into three (so far) trade editions: The Last Iron Fist Story, The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven and The Book of the Iron Fist.
Start with The Last Iron Fist Story, as strange as that sounds.
You’ll be glad you did.