Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Essential Marvel: Iron Fist Vol. 1 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and others

(pb; 1974 -1978, 2004: graphic novel, collecting issues of  Marvel Premiere #15 - 25, Iron Fist #1 - 15, Marvel Team-Up #63 - 64, Power Man #48 - 49, and Power Man & Iron Fist #48 - 50)

From the back cover:

"Thirty years ago, Marvel's top talents created one of herodom's ultimate martial artists and set him against foes ranging from crazed cultists to alien automata! Now, look back on the days when kung fu was king, and witness Iron Fist's progression from naïve newcomer to hero for hire! Featuring Sabretooth, Luke Cage, the X-men and more!"


Storyline: When Danny Rand's parents are killed by his father's treacherous business partner (Harold Meachum), the nine year-old boy is taken into K'unlun, the nearby, mystical Himalyan city he and his parents had. been ascending to.

Years later, Danny -- an adult, who has become a martial arts master -- decides to leave K'unlun. The reason: he wants to avenge his parents' deaths by killing Meachum, whose business has flourished in the decade or two since the Rands' murder. Danny should have little problem doing so, having learned how to direct his energy -- his chi -- directly into his right, hard-as-steel fist, thus earning his titular hero name.

Iron Fist is a fun, 1970s kung fu-focused comic book series, with Blaxploitation thrown into the mix with the arrival of Fist's action partner, Power Man (a.k.a. Lucas Cage, who calls women "sweet mama," etc.). The artwork is excellent, the fight scenes well-choreographed, the storylines formulaic; that last trait could be a criticism, depending on the reader, but for this reader it was fine because the talent involved (Claremont, Byrne, others) kept it entertaining despite its cheese-flirtatious limitations. Not only that, but Danny's character matures during his two-year (post-K'unlun) journey, from a vengeance-minded loner to a less naïve man who now is part of an extended family, which includes the aforementioned Lucas Cage.

This is worth owning, if you are fan of the above-acknowledged Seventies elements and characterizations. For everyone else, it might be best to borrow it from the library before committing cash to it.

Below is the back cover of Essential Iron Fist Vol. 1, which was also used as the front cover for Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1.

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