Immortal Iron Fist Trade Post: Volumes 1 & 2

Written by Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction, drawn by David Aja, Travel Foreman, Russ Heath, John Severin & Sal Buscema
Collects Immortal Iron Fist #1-6, excerpt from Civil War: Choosing Sides
After re-reading all the post-Rebirth Green Lantern comics in Books Of Oa and all ten volumes of Ex Machina, I wanted to re-read another recent favorite but one that wasn’t quite so involved. I’ve had the first three Immortal Iron Fist books sitting around for a while now and figured it would make a great candidate. Even though the comic suffered from timeliness issues if memory serves, they came out with a few one-shots here and there to fill the gabs and really broaden the idea that Danny Rand is but one of 66 Iron Fists from throughout history. As it turns out, Danny’s predecessor, dubbed the Golden Age Iron Fist Orson Randall who also had a Doc Savage kind of a thing going on for a while, is still alive.

As this first volume progresses we not only learn more about Randall and some of the other previous Iron Fists, the present story involves Danny and Orson teaming up to fight the newly powered Davos (his old enemy called the Steel Serpent) along with an army of Hydra agents. The seeds are also laid for the next arc including an evil businessman blackmailing the guy that run’s Danny’s company Jeryn into arranging for some trains to be built. Fraction and Brubaker also mention six other celestial cities like K’un L’un where he became Iron Fist which have their own immortal weapons all of whom fight in a tournament.

I’m a sucker for superheroes with a legacy, so the idea that a character who, as far as I knew, was the first of his kind, had this long ranging history with all kinds of story potential was right in my wheelhouse. Thankfully, the book also proved to be pretty damn good. Sure, there’s action elements that don’t always work because of the constraints of the form. I’ve recently realized that action, especially fisticuffs are really difficult to convey in comics. Sometimes it’s the art, sometimes it’s the eye not catching all the things it’s supposed to. One thing that artist Aja does to help get rid of some of that confusion is putting red circles around impact points. It might seem a little obvious, but the redness zooms the attention from one crack to another, just like in a great action flick. Aja’s my favorite of the many artists in the book. Some fit really well with whatever story they were tasked with while others leave me wanting more. All in all, this volume not only adds a depth to an existing character (I knew nothing about Iron Fist when I started reading this book, so don’t worry about not knowing what’s going on) and tells a great action story where two kung fu masters fight an army of goons and a few legit fighters, but also gives you plenty to look at and even includes some behind the scenes sketch material from Aja. Best of all, though, is that the collection does it’s job in making me want to move right on to the next volume. Oh, my only complaint is that Heroes For Hire Luke Cage, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing come off a little too 70s blaxploitation for my tastes, but that’s all I got.

Written by Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker, drawn by David Aja, Roy Allan Martinez, Scott Koblish, Kano, Javier Pulido, Tonci Zonjic, Howard Chaykin, Dan Brereton & Jelena Kevic Djurdevic
Collects Immortal Iron Fist #8-14 & Annual #1
While the first volume of IIF was a lot like a 70s kung fu movie with some pulp elements thrown in and a butt-ton of (for lack of a better word) ninjas throwing down, the second one focused more on the fantasy elements of the character, his fellow immortal weapons and his former home K’un-L’un. As it happens, every so many years all seven Capital Cities of Heaven come together and have a tournament where each of the seven immortal weapons (Iron Fist, Steel Phoenix, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter, Dog Brother #1, Fat Cobra, Prince Of Orphans and Bride Of 9 Spiders) all fight each other using rad sounding moves like The Black Milk Of Hell and Burning Chi Thunderfoot, but the larger story revolves around Danny trying to find out more about Orson Randall’s life and teaming up with his former trainer The Thunderer to plan a revolution in K’un-L’un.

Brubaker and Fraction really know how to pack a lot into a comic because, in addition to the elements I mentioned already, this volume also has repeated flashbacks to Danny’s father training to become Iron Fist (SPOILER, he fails) and his relationship with Davos which turns a little quicker from friend to enemy than seems realistic, but that’s more of a nitpick. Danny also escapes to Earth to meet with some of Orson’s friends and learn more about his history AND the guy with the trains from the last volume is causing more trouble, this time trying to shoot a train full of explosives at K’un-L’un in an attempt to destroy ALL the cities. Oh and a more toned down Heroes For Hire are there too, trying to help. Seriously, the issues are just packed with goodness.

I don’t want to get into too much spoiler territory here because I want everyone to go into these books fresh, but I found it really interesting how the tournament ended and then even more so how the volume ended. I also read the third volume but since this review is running a bit long, I’ll save that for another day and a pretty good amount of the issues after that, but not the Immortal Weapons series. I know the creative team changed, so I’m curious to see how the excellent set-up played out. Speaking of which, what’s the deal with Iron Fist right now? Where’s he at?

Roseanne Comics Cavalcade: The Psycho

At first I thought the Psycho poster over Roseanne’s right shoulder was an early promo image for Dan Brereton’s rad series The Nocturnals, but it turns out it was actually a three issue mini series that he drew/painted with someone named Hudnall for DC which actually preceded The Nocturnals. Crazy right? Anyway, here’s an image of the poster not taken with a cell phone camera:I’m a big fan of Brereton’s. He’s one of the rare artists whose art I wasn’t familiar with until I went to a comic convention as a kid and met him. He did a rad Harley Quinn sketch for me and even suggested I get a second sketchbook to maximize my sketch potential. He was super nice and that spurred me on to check out Nocturnals, Giantkiller and Batman: Thrillkiller. Now I wanna track these issues down and check them out.

Making a (Thrill)Killing

7:36:26 pm

So, every few months I have a few beers and start clearing off my trade shelf to make room for new stuff. But I don’t just automatically get rid of things. Sure there’s a pile of books I’m going to throw up on Swap or see if any of my buddies need, but I also make another stack of books that I want to re-read to see if they deserve that place on my shelf. Batman: Thrillkiller was one of the books on the chopping block. What did I think? Read on…

Batman: Thrillkiller (1997)

Written by Howard Chaykin

Art by Dan Brereton

I’ll put it this way, Thrillkiller is heading back to my shelf.

Here’s the deal, Thrillkiller is an Elseworlds book, which was a stamp that DC put on out of continuity books that took familiar concepts and put a different spin on them. This one obviously focuses on Batman, but it doesn’t start with Batman, instead, we get a load of Batgirl and Robin in the early ’60s. Batgirl is still the daughter of James Gordon and Robin is still acrobat Dick Grayson (though his real family name is different), but instead of Bruce Wayne living in Wayne Manor, Barbara lives there and has created her own batcave below. I’m not really sure where she got her money, but I assume it’s from her mother who got murdered. Little Barbara found her with a bat-shaped blood pool around her (hence Batgirl). Also, Chaykin calls her a madcap heiress way too many times.

Batgirl and Robin walk the mean streets of Gotham standing up for the little guy, but not against your average supervillains. They’re butting heads with the corrupt cops of Gotham. But not all the cops are bad guys, take Bruce Wayne for instance. His parents lost their fortune in the depression and went on to get murdered by their servants. He’s been tasked by Jim Gordon (another good cop) to both stop the corruption and bring Batgirl and Robin to justice.

I actually don’t want to get too into the story in case you want to check it out and see for yourself, which I highly recommend. I will say one thing about the trade, though, that confused me. I thought the book was made up of a four-issue series when it’s actually a three-issue series and a one-shot put out later. Which explains why the last chapter of the book seems separate but equal to the previous ones.

Okay, here’s what I like about the book. First up, the art. Dan Brereton has an somewhat exaggerated yet super-sexy style that really appeals to me. Back in my younger con-going days (1999 to be exact) I met Dan at either the Mid Ohio Con in Columbus or the convention in Novi, MI. He drew me this rad Harley Quinn sketch for free and also gave me the great suggestion of getting two sketchbooks in order to maximize your sketch-getting potential.

So, yeah there’s a little nastalgia for the first creator that ever talked to me like a real person and did something cool for me, but I also really like Dan’s style. You should check out Nocturnals sometime.

Anyway, I’m also a big fan of this time period. As Chaykin says in the first issue, this is a pre-JFK assassination ’60s. Things are going crazy, the cops are corrupt, but the country still has the spirit that seemed get squeezed out when JFK got killed. Chaykin really captures the mood of the times and even uses what seems like language of fiction from the time in his narration.

But what I really like about this Elseworlds tale is that the relationships aren’t just assumed. In a lot of Superman EW tales, Superman always falls in love with Lois. In this case, Bruce Wayne isn’t rich, he doesn’t even start off as Batman. And even though Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are together, it’s a whole different dynamic than what you’re used to in the comics. Also, the villains were changed, some more drastically than others. Joker is a woman, there’s a dirty cop called Duell that looks like Two-Face, but then there’s also Harvey Dent the DA. You’ve even got Black Canary and Roy Harper showing up in the one-shot. Oh and Catwoman is a stripper. But even though the characters’ circumstances are different, you still feel like you know Bruce Wayne because he’s a tough guy who’s out for justice and doesn’t mind busting a few skulls to get it.