Iron Fist has been one of the more overlooked comic books that Marvel is publishing. While it was overshadowed by all the events going on at Marvel, Iron Fist helmed by Ed Brisson has been able to fill the martial arts genre void that we’ve been missing. Brisson has done so by tapping into the mythology that makes Iron Fist such an intriguing character. Now Brisson is bringing Iron Fist’s world back to what is going on with the Marvel Universe. In coming back Iron Fist came face-to-face with an old villain: Sabertooth. Though initially an Iron Fist villain Sabertooth has become more well known for his rivalry with Wolverine. With that said, will Brisson bring Sabertooth back to being a major antagonist in Iron Fist’s life? Let’s find out with Iron Fist #74.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Andy Troy
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At a graveyard Iron Fist helps Sabertooth find out if Frank Payne returned by digging up his old grave. They find Frank’s body still there and figure out someone else must of taken over the Constrictor identity.
At Port Morris Choshin uses his newly acquired riches to buy an old warehouse as his base of operation. He then puts Rat of 12 Plagues in a room to keep him locked up until he is needed.
Elsewhere Sabertooth leads Iron Fist into a secret bar that low-level villains hang out. While inside Sabertooth tries to get answers from Tarantula about who the new Constrictor is. Tarantula is not interested in sharing in any information with Sabertooth. Instead he leads a bunch of villains in the bar to try to get the prize on Sabertooth’s head.
With Iron Fist’s help Sabertooth makes quick work of all the villains in the bar. Tarantula ends up surrendering and reveals that the new Constrictor did come to the bar and was with a guy named Soapy who was acting as a middleman.
Somewhere in Long Island Choshin meets up with Constrictor, who wants to renegotiate their deal so he can get more money for getting the Book of the Iron Fist. Chosin does not take kindly to Constrictor trying to change their deal and tries to get Rat of 12 Plagues to attack Constrictor.
Before Rat can do anything Constrictor reveals he has back-up in the form of the Serpent Society. Constrictor tells Choshin to pay him $3 million or else he will sell the Book of the Iron Fist to another buyer.
At a laundromat Sabertooth and Iron Fist find Soapy and put him in a dryer while threatening to do much worse if he does not tell them where Constrictor and the Book of the Iron Fist is.
At a pier in Red Hook, Choshin meets up with Liwei who he hires along with some more back-up to take the Book of the Iron Fist back since he is not interested in paying Constrictor at all.
Somewhere else in the city Iron Fist tells Sabertooth he needs to not let his anger get the best of him like at the villain bar. Sabertooth reminds Iron Fist he is helping him to find out who is ruining Frank’s legacy.
In the Bronx the Constrictor is drinking with the rest of the Serpent Society while they talk about how he got the Book of the Iron Fist and how much money it’ll get them.
Iron Fist and Sabertooth suddenly break into the apartment and start fighting Constrictor and the Serpent Society. Choshin arrives shortly after with his crew to join the fight for the Book of the Iron Fist. End of issue.
The Good: As much as a team-up between Iron Fist and Sabertooth should not work on paper Ed Brisson finds a way to make their good cop-bad cop dynamic steal the show. Brisson accomplishes that by not holding back at who these two characters are at their core. That dynamic is made even better by how Brisson is able to continue to develop the world around Danny Rand in Iron Fist #74.
Even though this story involves Iron Fist and Sabertooth teaming up rather than actually fighting Brisson does not try to create a story where these two will become friends at the end. Brisson makes it clear that the two are using one another for their own gain. For Iron Fist he knows that the quickest way to get the Book of the Iron Fist back is with Sabertooth’s help. On Sabertooth’s end all he wants to find out is who is disgracing his old, dead buddy’s former villainous identity.
Iron Fist #74 furthers each character’s motive by showcasing how it works for the benefit of their dynamic. Sabertooth’s aggressive personality worked to make each scene he was in with Iron Fist have a bit more sense of fun given the latter’s straight man personality. Given that Brisson had the two characters all over the place in terms of setting, from graveyard to laundromat, he was able to tap into how their dynamic can enhance each setting.
This is best seen with the seen at the Bar With No Name. Sabertooth aggressive detective work help breath some life into the entire scene as he quickly turned all the villains against him. It all led to a fun, albeit quick, fight that Iron Fist had to get involved with. Seeing Iron Fist in the background after Sabertooth forced Tarantula to fork over the information he had on the new Constrictor added a nice bit of natural comedy to the issue without being forced to be played for laughs.
Speaking of the Constrictor, Brisson has done a good job quickly building up this new version of the low-level villain as someone you want to see Iron Fist knockout. Everything from the way Constrictor speaks to his body language when speaking to Choshin and the Serpent Society oozes jerk. In building up the new Constrictor in this way it makes it so we don’t have to focus in on if he could even take on the likes of Iron Fist and Sabertooth. Instead Brisson builds him to be a villain to be hated and for readers to look forward to Constrictor getting his comeuppance.
Adding the Serpent Society to the mix as Constrictor’s back-up also provide a good opportunity for Brisson to use some sorely underutilized characters. By having the Serpent Society as back-up Brisson is able to make Constrictor seem like he would be some sort of challenge to Iron Fist and Sabertooth. It also added a good reason why Choshin didn’t just straight up kill the new Constrictor to get the Book of Iron Fist.
Choshin also continues to be developed as a nice addition to Iron Fist’s world. What is best about Choshin’s continued development is that Brisson isn’t rushing to make the character overly powerful. Instead, the villain is being built from the ground up as he is just starting to build his criminal empire in Iron Fist #74. This approach allows the character’s evolution into one of Iron Fist’s more deadly villains come off as more natural rather than rush to power.
As strong as Brisson’s writing is it’s Mike Perkins who once again steals the show in Iron Fist #74. Perkins artwork is a pure joy to see as he is perfectly at home with a grounded series like Iron Fist. Even in the short bursts of action Perkins is able to make it feel as though we had several pages of intense action, best seen in the bar fight Iron Fist and Sabertooth got involved with. At the same time, Perkins is able to elevate the dialogue heavy scenes with how he draws each character reaction and their body movements to match their lines of dialogue.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Iron Fist #74 delivers a strong second chapter for the “Sabertooth: Round Two” story arc. Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins continue to do a fantastic job playing up Iron Fist and Sabertooth’s unique dynamic. Their dynamic is helped by the strong development of the villains of the story, Choshin and the new Constrictor. This all comes together for a comic that continues be one of Marvel’s best comic books and one that fans martial arts genre will not want to miss out on.