“The Last Iron Fist Story”

Iron Fist has long been one of those characters that I’ve been waiting for someone to do something interesting with. Sure, he was created in the 70s during the martial arts craze (along with Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu) and later was paired with another 70s-era icon, Power Man, but the character has been vastly underused. Along come writers Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker (Captain America) to explore his and add depth to his mythos.

After running around as Daredevil for a while, to cover for Matt Murdoch after uber-writer Brian Michael Bendis put him through the wringer, Iron Fist has come into his own. Daniel Rand, another in the tradition of millionaire super-heroes (such as Batman, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Iron Man), has his whole life under siege: the government won’t let him operate in the open (thanks to the events of Civil War); HYDRA, a terrorist organization, is attempting a hostile takeover of his company; his ex-girlfriend, Misty Knight, has become a narc for said government; the legacy of his family is still a mystery to him; and someone is using his power, the totemic power of Shou-Lao the Undying.

“I know that I’m meant for more than this. I have to be here for a reason, don’t I?” –Wendall Rand

Daniel Rand is also in the long line of heroes reborn the night his father (figure) died (such as Batman, Daredevil, Spider-Man). So on one level, we have the death of another leading to new life, however, the next question becomes reborn into what?

“All of those are our sins, boy. Not just mine, not just yours. And I gave you the damn instruction book on how to survive it.” –Orson Randall

Much like the Spider-Man: The Other story, we have a mentor coming along to help guide our hero and take their totemic powers, their gifts, to a new level. This journey is quite analogous to the path of discipleship. Discipleship is little more than learning discipline and obedience to the chosen path, or, as Robert Webber put it, “discipleship is a long obedience in the same direction.” It’s apprenticeship with the goal of the student to become as much like the teacher as possible. We are to make disciples, form one another in the way of the Master-Teacher.

“Because sometimes, Father—as you know so well—no matter how hard we try, no matter how dutiful we are to our sacrifice, no matter how high we climb, we can fall.” –Iron Fist

One last comment about the path of discipleship: it is not the stumbling along the way that marks us, but the getting back up and continuing on the journey. In the end, it’s about realizing that who you are is God’s gift to you; and who you become is your gift to God.

David Aja’s art style fits perfectly. Being both brooding and stylish, it lends a noire-ish feel to the book. Long on the action, The Immortal Iron Fist is exactly what you’d want from a martial artist super-hero. Having built a new world of mythos for him, Fraction, Brubaker, and Aja have combined to turn a second-tier character into one of the most intriguing in the Marvel Universe. Here’s hoping his newfound popularity doesn’t turn him into another (over-exposed) Wolverine.

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