Pick of the Week

08.22.2007 – The Immortal Iron Fist #8

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Size: pages
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Writers – Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Artist – David Aja
Flashback Artists – Roy Allan Martinez & June Chung
Colorist – Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer – Artmonkeys Studios

Marvel Comics – $2.99

It was by no means an easy week to pick a winner. There were three books swimming very closely to the top together, and in the end, I had to examine what it was about each that I thought was so good. In the end, I had to go with Iron Fist, perhaps because there isn’t another book like it. There certainly isn’t a book like it in the Marvel Universe. I’m not even sure it matters that Iron Fist is a Marvel superhero, perse, but when I think about this book, and then remember that Danny Rand is also in New Avengers, fighting away over there, it adds a new layer on context on that story as well, adding depth to the character, at least in the way that I think about Danny Rand. Perhaps the most phenomenal thing about this title is that, prior to the first issue, I just didn’t think about Danny Rand. But now I do think about Danny Rand, and I’m quite pleased about this development.

This issue is the first part of a story concerning a tournament among the champions of the seven cities of Heaven, of which Danny Rand is the champion of K’un-Lun. Basically, it looks like we’re in for a good old fashioned kung fu story with lots of fights and silly names. Danny’s first opponent is the fearsome Fat Cobra, who is an astonishing fast and strong sumo kind of dude. Think E. Honda, and you’re pretty much there. So that part is basically a kung fu movie, which isn’t really innovative other than it’s taking place in the Marvel Universe, which I think is notable. Then at the same time, there’s a story going on about Danny’s father, as well as the takeover of Danny’s company by Hydra, who is being told what to do by Davos, the champion from another city. What’s great is that all of this plot is woven together, and everything is going on, and yet, I have no sense of being lost. I’m just enjoying the ride. While early on, I think a lot of people gave Brubaker the bulk of the credit for this book, I’m thinking that this really is the product of a really nice meshing of Fraction and Brubaker, and the scripts really show off their best qualities.

I love the diversity in mainstream comic book art these days. We’ve got a climate where books can be done by people as divergent as Leinil Yu, Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale, Michael Lark, Jock, Alex Maleev, and of course, one of my new favorites, David Aja. I don’t think we saw this kind of across the board variety of style back when I started reading comics in 1988. But I think it’s one of the reasons mainstream comics are so good today, because it let’s artists do stuff in their own style, rather than trying to get them to look the way comics have always looked. Aja’s stuff is so simple and understated, and very much like Michael Lark’s work, it is both incredibly stylistic, and also quite realistic. His body and face shapes are so natural without being overwrought, and I know I’ll never see a character with way too many abdominal muscles in Aja’s work. The fight scenes are crisp and elegant, and K’un-Lun feels has a real character to it. This is all helped by Matt Hollingsworth’s perfectly fitting color palette. While I wouldn’t mind more pages devoted to Aja’s work, the flashbacks are handled by Roy Allan Martinez, and they do help to quickly distinguish the pages which take place in the past, and they do so ably, and give the book a unique gimmick.

I think a real testament to this book’s quality is that I’m currently thinking Iron Fist is one of the Marvel characters I’d really like to see more of. I don’t even know how much of this story existed in the past, or how much was known about Danny Rand, but where at first, I just figured he was a bit of throwaway character, Brubaker and Fraction have truly breathed new life into a character I’m sure many felt had seen its best days gone by.

Oh, and in case, you’re curious, this is an excellent place to jump on board.

Josh Flanagan
Bonus Points if you can guess what the other 2 contenders were.
josh@ifanboy.com

Did you read The Immortal Iron Fist #8?
Add a comment and tell everyone what you think about this week’s comics!

If there was an Eisner for best summary page, it’s very possible that Iron Fist would be a lock.

Comments

  1. cool. my guess would be that the other 2 were:

    SPIRIT #9
    ASTONISHING X-MEN #22

  2. Chris Johnson,
    are you the amazing spider-cast guy?

  3. Gotta go with Astonishing X-men. I always can’t wait to read it when it comes out and it never is disappointing.

  4. I totally agree with you Josh. It was the last book I read this week and as soon as I finished I ran to the forum to see what was chosen. I could not have been more pleased to see this book as the pick. The trading of the different artists for the flashback and present is done in a way that is noticeable but not in a distracting way. It is done with intent and a touch of comfort in the transition. I think it also helps that there is a clear division between the two time frames and not a jumping back and forth. I’ve been on this book since issue one and hope to stick with it for a long time to come.

    Bonus Question:
    Green Arrow: Year One #4(close second for me)
    Spirit #9 (not reading it, but I know you love it)

  5. I picked this up today in the shop, and it was part one of an arc so I decided to pick it up, knowing nothing about the character. Haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’m glad its a good starting point.

  6. My POW was Batman. Morrison is having a lot of fun writing a Batman adventure comic and it shows. Seems a bit camp at times but think how goofy the costumed Justice League would look to the uninitiated.

    Williams is freaking incredible. His layouts, design and storytelling ability is simply stellar. That spread with the black glove breaking the Batman silhouette? Masterful.

  7. I’m loving green arrow year one. I don’t read much DC but this book is awsome. I wish it could be an on going with just green arrow and none of the JLA JSA stuff.

  8. finally, something i read. i’m not compaining becouse i don’t read much and what i do read you guys don’t, at lest not in issue form. (hellboy, bprd and a very few others.) the only big two comics i read is this and the spirit and the ocasional mini series like green arrow year one. but its all good becouse you talk about stuff i don’t and keep me up to date. and thanks for fell. thats one you got me into. keep it up. late.

  9. Booooo! Halo Uprising #1 was my pick, absolutely astounding.

  10. Iron Fist was also my personal pick. I got to read it last week (retailers get previews of Marvel books…it’s never consistent and it’s never the big event book) and I talked this book up to the staff for 7 days. I think the thing that struck me about the issue was that it felt less like a comic and more like a movie. It was sprawling and intricate, but at the same time easily accessible. I have the first hardcover and I reread it recently, and while that first storyline reads easy, this one is a breeze. Once you know who Danny is (and the catch up page does it) you’re in. If anyone wanted to jump in, this is the time.

    If this were a movie though, obviously, you’d take out the parts with his dad, but in a comic, this works to bring the regular reader deeper, and hopefully, encourages the new reader to get that hardcover (which is really affordable).

    Good job, Josh

  11. My pick is between HALO UPRISING #1 and ASTONISHING X-MEN #22

  12. I would have had a terrible time making a pick of the week with the books I read. Everything was pretty good this week. Nothing stood too far above or below anything else I read. I think, Iron Man impressed me a little more than everything else. Finally, it seems Tony Stark has come into being Director of SHIELD. The Mandarin plot is starting to take off. There was a glimpse at how the Initiative works in Nebraska, when Graviton attacks. I inch Iron Man about Iron Fist, because with Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker I expect that book to good. I have been waiting for Iron Man to do something interesting and it looks like Knauf, finally, has.

  13. I had a pretty good week of comics, I’m kinda kicking myself for not buying Immortal Iron Fist, I may just go back and buy the 2 issues I’m missing. My main problem here is that everything that was good was as good as its always been, so I can’t write all that much.
    Countdown was good, not much more I can say about it

    Mouse Guard was also very good, I’m really looking forward to buying this series as it comes out as opposed to having to wait for the trade like I did with the last series

    The Spirit was good, and the only book I didn’t like was Halo: Uprising. Now, maybe it’s because I never really got into the halo universe (I think that I played the game for maybe 30 minutes at a friend’s house once) so none of it made sense to me… but I actually closed the book halfway through and put it away. Oh well, that’s 3 less books for me to buy this year

  14. Great pick, Josh. My pick would have been Iron Fist or Green Arrow: Year One. Which is funny, because Iron First is the first book I read, and Green Arrow was the last! But I loved the stories in each, and the artwork in each.

  15. I know it doesn’t really qualify, but I thought the X-23: Target X tpb (could a trade ever be POW?) that came out yesterday was excellent. I know a lot of people are pissed off at her existence because she is a clone of the most overused (besides Spidey) character in comics, but I think Kyle and Yost have filled her out well. I like her a lot more than I do Wolverine.

    Ron, if you are out there in cyberspace, this is definitely an X-man you need to read up on. New X-men has been good as well.

  16. “Astonishing” has to be at the top of the picking order. It’s like getting another crack at Byrne/Claremont again.

  17. I did like that last page in Astonishing. As I was turning to it I predicted (in my head) he was going to see Jean. I wasn’t expecting Professor X. That was a cool page.

  18. yeah, so far my pick is Astonishing. Fantastic series, that.
    Has anyone read the new Amazing? Part of me was mad at the Cover Image to Interior Story relationship, but part of me was impressed.

    I haven’t read IRON FIST since the first issue..maybe i’ll pick up the trade.

  19. Great pick, Josh. I agree with you about wanting to see/know more about Danny Rand. Because of this book, he’s quickly moving up to Marvel’s A-list characters. This monthly is definitely on my “must-read” list. I look forward to it almost as much as I look forward to The New Avengers.

  20. I haven’t read Iron Fist yet, but I have been digging Fraction and Brubaker’s run so far; so I’m excited to see that its goodness continues.

    BUT: I am moved to mention Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp’s Black Summer. Jesus. If you are not reading this book, do so now – leave a cartoon cloud of yourself sitting at the computer and go buy issue 1 and 2 of this book. Yes, it veers into V for Vendetta territory (with a little of that 1995 movie The Last Supper thrown in, but with superheroes); but Ellis has so far combined what could be tired political philosophy with character study and superhero stuff really, really well.

    And the art is sort of like R. Crumb’s. Which is weird. But in a good way I think.

  21. also… finally bought myself Absolute New Frontier. Holy freakin’ crap that was AMAZING. Thanks to all of you guys who gushed about it for the recommendation, it was money well spent

  22. So while reading The Walking Dead #40 after I got home from the comic shop I realized two things.

    First, I seem to always read this book as soon as I get home, not later that night, not the next night, but literally as soon as my keys hit the coffee table and my books are out of the bag.

    Second, and this was really just noticed after this particular issue, was that everytime I would finish a page and begin to turn to the next, I would kind of brace myself for what was to come. Cause thats the joy of this book, you really don’t know whats coming from page to page. Who’s going to get bitten next? Who’s going to get shot or tortured? Especially with this issue, since if anyones already read it, nothing happens, no significant events after each page, its all story build-up. And thats why I love this book, because you really just don’t know whats coming next.

    And I picked up the first 3 issues of The Highwaymen from Wildstorm. Fun stuff.

  23. I’m glad at least one other person picked up Mouse Gaurd. The dimensions of the paper that this book is printed on is perfect for this story. I know it’s a strange thing to gush about but I personally feel like David Peterson has really learned how to use the shape of his book to make the layouts great and very unique. And all the panoramic shots give the book a very cinematic feel. Although Iron Fist was my pick this week I extremely enjoyed Mouse Gaurd. It was an extremely close second.

    Josh said just about all that needed to be said about Iron Fist. Although I felt the first arc of this book was a little convaluted it ended strong, and the summary page in this issue did a very good job of smoothing out all the bumps.

  24. Damn my local comic shop for not selling Mouse guard!

  25. I feel your pain, when everyone was talking about Fell a month or so back I found out they didn’t have it at my shop…drove me a little insane.

  26. This was also a great week for art also.
    cassaday, JH Williams, David Aja, Josh Middleton,Jock, This new style of Barry Kitson, and the action scenes of GL Corps…Nice.

  27. I had an awesome week this week with my books. I only planned on picking up a few books, but ended up with about ten, as I tried out a few new things.

    I will say that I’m completely avoiding the machine that Halo has become. I thought I would buy it, but put it back for the sole reason that this damn video game has spawned, of all things, a flavor of Mountain Dew. So, I passed this week.

    I loved Iron Fist this week, and have been a giant fan of the series so far. I have a feeling that this arc is going to be something special.

    My interest in Countdown is plummetting. Can something please happen in this story? Mary Marvel has replaced Jimmy Olsen’s story as the most annoying, and I think Batman summed up Mr. Action perfectly in Jimmy’s one page scene. The only thing keeping me on this book is the Rogue’s story. While Paul Dini is a great comic writer, Countdown is really losing me.

    Batman is a lot of fun, but I definitely lost track of all the different characters in the story. J.H. Williams is rocking it with the art, which I felt was much better than the last issue. Overall, this is a really fun storyline and Grant Morrison’s best so far.

    Green Arrow, Amazing Spider-Man, and The Spirit continued their excellent quality levels.

    After missing the boat with the first series, I picked up the first issue Mouse Guard: Winter, and god damn that book is gorgeous. David Peterson can draw some great stuff. I can’t wait for the hardcover of this so I can put it next to the first one on my shelf.

    And lastly, my pick this week was Wolverine! After Loeb’s horrible storyline, Jason Aaron (writer of Scapled) comes out with an awesome story and great art by Chaykin, whose style really fits this book. Add to that, the excitement of returning writer Guggenheim and I’m looking forward to the direction of this series. This issue was a seriously fun read.

  28. This was a solid pick…but let me change the topic slightly…

    How utterly horrible was the Batman Lobo book…it was just about unreadable…

    It made no sense…wasn’t engaging, it was poorly drawn, and even the lettering was bad…

    All in all this was among the worst books I’ve ever read…it took two great and one Iconic characters and totally, and utterly wasted them.

    To quote a friend at an unwatchable off, off-bradway show…”Boo…Boo…I hated it Boo…”

  29. Lewis, I totally agree with you. I recognize that Sam Keith is a wonderful artist and has a vivid imagination, but he has no business writing superhero books. Batman is so out of character in this book, it’s not even funny. His characterization of Lobo is fine, but the villain and what happens is really uninteresting.

    After the way that Batman: Secrets turned out, I can only guess that the way they defeat the enemy in the next issue will be so anticlimatic that the story will seem dumb in the end.

    I love the man’s art, but he needs to focus on doing more stuff like The Maxx. That’s where we need him.

  30. Iron Fist was fantastic, can’t wait for the next issue. I loved the flashbacks with Wendal Rand, they were written like the first Iron Fist stories in the Essential volume. Any one else think the Prince of Orphans and Wendall might be one in the same?

  31. Dear iFanboy,
    Stop using such awesome music for your intros. I can’t afford to buy all these songs and all these comics.
    Thanks!

  32. Dear Jestergoblin,

    We can’t promise anything.

  33. I couldn’t get all my books this week, but knowing what is still at the shop, I can safely say that my PoW was between this, and Green Arrow Y1 #4 (both of which I couldn’t pass up. U:FF, I love ya, but you have to stay here for now)

    The only other thing I could swing was Books With Pictures #6, which I started picking up with #2 just for the sake of getting a weird indie book, and ended up liking it quite a bit.

    Lastly: Oddly enough, the prior issue of Iron Fist was my PoW for that week, although if I recall, none of you guys cared for it too much, judging by the podcast.

  34. I, alone, loved that issue. Thought it was great.

  35. I was positive that Iron Fist #7 was PoW until I went back to look. I spent most of the week thinking, “Wow, two issues in a row. That has to be some kind of record.”

  36. That came out the week of the comic-con, and I believe the others were lukewarm, if not intolerant of that particular issue.

  37. That was my week – Crecy as the Pick – and that issue of Iron Fist was bad.

  38. Josh and Conor: I love that you two guys are like the old married couple constantly bickering – I don’t know what it does to your friendship, but I find it highly entertaining. The fact that you two coexist on the same podcast really makes the show far better than others, where some podcasters sometimes tend to gush unanimously about the “flavour of the week.” Plus Ron with his own individual perspective, and its really good stuff.

    Anyway, whenever you guys get accused of being the “iFanboy Uni-Mind” with this or that unified bias (totally bogus accusation) I’m right here saying, “no no, it just ain’t so.”

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