Thoughts on Iron Fist #1 – “The Trial of Seven Masters Part 1”

Iron Fist #1

Danny Rand is feeling aimless and unchallenged in Iron Fist #1, but a new ‘friend’ has arrived to help him.

Iron Fist #1

Iron Fist #1 Cover“The Trials of the Seven Masters Part 1”
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Andy Troy

Cover Price: $3.99
Story Pages: 20

Release Date: March 22, 2017

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Collected in: TBD


Background

With Iron Fist debuting on Netflix last week a comics relaunch was inevitably right around the corner.  The show has been met with a resounding “meh” by critics and fans, but the comic isn’t really connected so we can approach it fresh.  There have been a number of Iron Fist titles over the years, although only the classic Power Man & Iron Fist comics of the 70s and 80s, and the more recent Immortal Iron Fist by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker have so far managed to stand the test of time.  The latest attempt at Power Man & Iron Fist has been pretty good, and well worth checking out, although it looks like issue 15 (due in April) will be the book’s finale.  It is also worth bearing in mind that the version of Danny Rand in that book is far different from the one we get here, so it might not be a wise idea to try both books out at the same time.

General Thoughts

The premise this time around is that Danny has become unfocused as a result of being unable to find any worthy challengers.  His boredom further translates into him no longer being able to wield the powerful Iron Fist that he is so well known for.  As a starting point it isn’t bad, and although the story does follow a series of D-list martial arts movie cliches it does at least get us moving in the right direction.  Unlike Elektra #1 from a few weeks back it does a good job of making us care about the fact that Danny is directionless.  The book has a purpose, even if Danny does not.

The biggest problem the book faces, for better or worse, is perhaps overplaying just how skilled Danny is.  If his Iron Fist powers are on the fritz then he is merely a highly skilled martial artist, not a kung-fu demigod.  The opening of the book has him taking on a warehouse filled with skilled bloodsport fighters, and winning without problem.  I get that we’re trying to establish just how elevated Danny is, and how little challenge is left to him, but it still needs to stay within certain realms of plausibility.  Of course, it is also a martial arts genre-trope so there is some leeway.  This book is nothing if not shameless about its love of campy martial arts movies.

Picking a partner in Iron Fist #1

A book focused on combat, and martial arts combat at that, has to have a strong artistic presence or it won’t matter how good the writing is.  Fortunately Marvel made the wise decision to stick veteran artist Mike Perkins on this title, and he knows his way around a fight scene.  Teamed with colorist Andy Troy, the two create absolutely visceral and brutal action on the pages.  It can get a bit murky at times outside of the fights, but it gets all the parts that count down perfectly.  This is a pretty good looking book, and as a kung-fu comic it is easy to recommend.

Final Thoughts

The story in Iron Fist #1 is on the light side, but it hits the right beats.  This take on Danny is a bit off the path from the pseudo-zen hippy we’ve seen in recent years (and, more importantly, how he was portrayed in the Netflix series), but it is still an interesting one.  There is a looming issue at this point that the comic leans a bit too generic in its story, and with a brief exception regarding Danny’s failure to utilize his Iron Fist powers there is little that makes this an Iron Fist story.  At this point we could easily drop Shang-Chi, Psylocke, or even Elektra into this comic without losing much of importance.  The title is Iron Fist, and the comic needs to make sure we know why within the next issue or two.  Still, the action is good and the story provides a decent enough framework for us to work with.  If you are interested in reading some Iron Fist books after checking out his Netflix series then I’d say start with the current Power Man & Iron Fist series, or the excellent Immortal Iron Fist from a few years ago.  If you are more interested in the martial arts aspect over the hero himself then this is as good a place as any to start (although I would also recommend, again, Immortal Iron Fist).

Iron Fist #1

$3.99
8.6

Final Score

8.6/10

Pros

  • Moody artwork from Mike Perkins and Andy Troy
  • Intriguing mystery for Danny to follow
  • Excellent martial arts scenes

Cons

  • Danny's skills are played up a bit too much
  • Story is extremely generic