Iron Fist is one of those characters that has always had a niche following in the niche world of comic books. While he has had had a number of great creative team runs, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction come to mind, he has never been able to be a big seller for Marvel like Spider-Man and Wolverine. But now with Iron Fist reaching a new mainstream audience with his own live-action Netflix original series there may be no better time for the character to obtain greater popularity. That is exactly what Marvel is doing as they are hand over the Iron Fist reigns to Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins. Will this new creative team be able to deliver a top notch Iron Fist ongoing series? Let’s find out with Iron Fist #1.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Andy Troy
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in Varna, Bulgaria a man walks into a building hosting an underground fighting event. While the crowd watches a pair of fighters tear each other apart the unknown man walks up to the promoter of the event. The man hands over a bag with one million dollars inside to enter the fighting ring. The promoter wonders who the guy is entering into the fight. The guy takes off his hood to reveal himself as Danny Rand and says he is the fighter.
The promoter asks Danny who he wants to fight amongst his group of fighters. Danny looks at all the fighters and says he wants to fight them all.
Danny goes into the ring and completely decimates all the fighters at the event. The promoter is pissed that Danny left him with no more fighters. He asks Danny if he expects to walk out safely after what he did. Danny says he does.
As Danny walks away the promoter asks him why he came to the underground fighting event in the first place. Danny just says he was looking for something that he discovered wasn’t there.
Sometime later Danny is flying on a domestic plane with a guy talking about how he hasn’t been back to Cambodia since moving to Alaska and how nostalgic this trip is feeling like. Danny excuses himself and heads to the restroom.
While washing up Danny sees himself as Iron Fist in the mirror’s reflection. He then thinks about how he used to be a Living Weapon but now isn’t sure anymore.
Sometime later Danny is getting his ass kicked at another underground fight. As he is getting clobbered Danny thinks about how he has joined various tournaments looking for a challenge, he’s even let others beat him down like right now. Danny suddenly springs into action and beats the hell out of the guy he is fighting as the fight is just leaving himself empty inside.
After knocking out the guy he was fighting Danny feels like he is just going through the motions and he is still unable to find a way back to who he was.
Later that night Danny is in his hotel room with piles of money spread across the room. Danny stares at his fist and thinks about how his connection to the Chi of Shou-Lao and K’un-Lun is slipping away. This fading connection makes him angry as he question what his life is now. He then becomes even angrier and throws a bag of money against a wall in frustration.
Sometime later Danny goes into the city and walks into a bar and proceeds to get drunk. As he continues to drink a woman tries to talk to Danny but he shows no interest.
Some other guy walks up to Danny ashamed at what Danny has become. Danny shows no interest in whatever the guy is offering. The guy asks Danny if he would rather drink his sorrows away than fighting opponents worthy of his skills. The guy then throws Danny’s whisky on the ground and calls Danny out for fighting people that are nowhere near his skill level.
The guy then sends Danny flying with a Tsunami Death Strike. Danny comments that the strike hurt, which is what the guy intended it to do. Danny and the guy proceed to fight evenly for a while. Danny eventually gets the upperhand and the guy calls the match off.
The guy compliments Danny on having the skills of a champion, which is why he came looking for Danny. The guy introduces himself as Choshin from the island of Liu-Shi.
They sit down and Choshin extends an invitation for a tournament with participants that are on Danny’s level. Danny is not sure about just following some stranger without question. Choshin says that is exactly what Danny should do if he wants to discover the answers to the questions he is looking for.
Sometime later Danny and Choshin are on a boat and soon arrive just outside the island of Liu-Shi. End of issue.
The Good: Iron Fist #1 does not take the normal comic book heroes journey we see kick off a new superhero series. Rather than feeling like a comic book, Iron Fist #1 reads like a story I expect from a manga series. This slight change in how Ed Brisson starts Iron Fist’s new ongoing series off immediately makes the series different from every other superhero comic book man.
One of the interesting angles that Brisson explores in Iron Fist #1 is what happens when a hero feels gets to the point in his powers that there is a feeling that no one can challenge him. It’s one of those questions that shonen manga heroes find themselves with at the end of their journey as they work so hard to become the strongest that by the time they reach that point there is no one that can realistically challenge them. Seeing Danny at a similar point makes the question of what happened to make him lose his connection to what made him the Iron Fist an even bigger mystery to sold.
Having Danny is join an unknown tournament also adds to the opportunity to do something that isn’t being done in any other Marvel or DC comic book. With this new tournament Brisson has the opportunity to introduces a roster of new powerful character. It’s very reminiscent of the Tournament of Power arc that is currently going on in Dragon Ball Super. What makes the hype for this new tournament even higher is the fact that Danny is entering it with his connection to the Iron Fist power waning. How Danny rediscovers that connection to the Iron Fist will make the progression of the tournament even more interesting.
Introducing the tournament through a new character in Choshin, who was able to show impressive skills, was a great move. Seeing Choshin display moves that showed he was at least able to provide Danny with a bigger challenge than Danny has found on his current journey gave us a good idea of what awaits us. And since Choshin is just the messenger sent to find Danny there are sure to be a slew of new characters that will be even more powerful.
Also having Choshin calling Danny out for looking for fights he can win made the earlier fight scenes have greater context. Because looking back at the fights Danny participates in he does already know he can win. Now that won’t be the case as the tournament Choshin is something Danny is entering with zero knowledge of the level of competition he is about to face.
With Brisson taking the new Iron Fist series in a martial arts tournament direction Mike Perkins is the perfect artist to draw this series. Perkins has shown the skills to be able to draw great looking grounded stories that have some supernatural elements thrown in. With how Perkins already drew the one sided fight scenes in Iron Fist #1 I can’t wait to see how he draws fights that are more back-and-forth. It is also exciting to know that Perkins will be able to draw new characters and help develop their fighting styles alongside Brisson as the tournament moves forward.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Iron Fist #1 bucks the trend of laying everything about the main protagonist from the beginning. Instead, Ed Brisson begins Danny Rand’s hero journey in a place where we will be discovering why Danny is in the state he is in over the course of the series. That mystery adds to a martial arts tournament that has the potential to be a stellar arc that brings in story elements normally seen in shonen mangas. Add in Mike Perkins always strong artwork and Iron Fist #1 is a comic book that fans of action series should pick up right away.