The Invincible Iron Man 500 (March 2011)

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Fraction sets up this issue in two parts–first the present, with Tony tracking down Peter Parker to talk about some designs Tony forgot about, and second the future. In the future, Tony’s kid is fighting the Mandarin, who has taken over the world thanks to Tony’s technology.

Fraction plays the future as full action. There’s no time for a break–and he’s got two artists on it, Kano on some, Fox on the rest. Fox gets the most destruction, probably because his scenes of mass destruction look great.

The present material, with Spidey showing up eventually, is played straight, but with some humor.

Fraction needs to do a Tony and Peter series.

What’s so nice about how the issue works is how it embraces a lot of what Fraction’s done already, but doesn’t tie him down. The future’s not guaranteed (you know, after the next crossover).

It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

The New Iron Age; writer, Matt Fraction; artists, Salvador Larocca, Kano, Nathan Fox and Carmine Di Giandomenico; colorists, Frank D’Armata, Javier Rodriguez and Matthew Wilson; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist: The Origin of Danny Rand 1 (October 2008)

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Thank goodness Marvel felt the need to recolor the first two appearances of Iron Fist with some terrible glossy digital coloring from Andrew Crossley. Someone with time on his or her hands should do a comparison between Crossley’s “modern” colors here and the originals from Marvel Premiere.

Oddly, there’s a classy opening from Fraction and Kano–I think that opening must be Fraction’s last work on Iron Fist–and Kano does his own, non-glossy colors.

The origin issues hold up pretty well. Both Thomas and Wein write in the second person, which makes the whole experience–learning about K’un-L’un, Iron Fist’s origin, Danny Rand’s traumatic childhood–palatable. Kane pencils the first part, Hama the second, Giordano inks them both smoothly. Even the silly coloring can’t mess up Giordano inks on a kung fu comic.

The reprinted stories aren’t classics in the quality sense, but they’re solid seventies stuff.

CREDITS

The Origin of Danny Rand; writer, Matt Fraction; artist and colorist, Kano; letterer, Dave Lanphear. The Fury of Iron Fist!; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Gil Kane; inker, Dick Giordano; colorist, Andrew Crossley; letterer, Gaspar Saladino. Heart of the Dragon!; writers, Thomas and Len Wein; penciller, Larry Hama; inker, Giordano; colorist, Crossley; letterer, Saladino. Editors, Cory Levine, Thomas and Jeff Youngquist; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 24 (May 2009)

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What a cheat.

Swierczynski can write the fill in issues–with the past Iron Fist adventures–just fine. So how does he follow up one of his lamer issues?

With a charming fill in issue with Kano art. Genocide aside, it’s delightful.

This Iron Fist is a pacifist–whose pacifism eventually costs the lives of millions, so I guess we know where Swierczynski stands on that issue–and it provides a different kind of Iron Fist story.

The majority of the issue is spent preparing the Iron Fist. He only gets the job, basically, because everyone else is sick. Swierczynski also does a little bit of retcon as to why an Iron Fist is chosen. Here, K’un-L’un needs a champion whenever the gates open… not because someone’s good enough to challenge the dragon or because the dragon’s grown. It’s all conveniently scheduled.

Convenient or not, it’s a fine issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Li Park, The Reluctant Weapon vs. Unstoppable Forces of Evil; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist and colorist, Kano; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 14 (June 2008)

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This issue basically brings Brubaker and Fraction’s story to its finish (Brubaker leaves after this one, Fraction hangs around for a little coda then is off). It’s an outstanding issue, both fantastic on its own and as a conclusion to the story arc. Brubaker and Fraction have more pages here and the issue shows they probably should have had this kind of room the entire time.

Aja is gone at this point, so it’s up to Kano and Zonjic (I didn’t even notice Mann’s pages) and they do a great job. As Wendell Rand’s story comes to an end quietly with him finding Orson, Danny gets to do these awesome stunts. It’s all very Star Wars, something Fraction hasn’t been able to do in a while and it’s fantastic. There’s just tons of spectacle and humor.

The writing makes this issue mainstream perfection.

Even Davos’s redemption works.

It’s simply fantastic.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Conclusion; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; pencillers, Kano, Tonci Zonjic and Clay Mann; inkers, Kano and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 13 (May 2008)

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It’s not the deepest issue, it’s probably not the best written, but it’s completely awesome. Everything comes together here (with the promise of a big fight next issue).

Unfortunately, Aja’s not along for the ride. Instead, it’s Zonjic doing most of the art. He’s a lot like Javier Pulido. He’s fine, but I was used to Aja on the title.

Brubaker and Fraction get in a lot more about K’un-L’un here, stuff they probably should have made clear a lot earlier. The book moves real fast–this issue’s fight sequence is between Davos and the Thunderer, but otherwise it’s mostly talking heads as everyone prepares for next issue.

It’s interesting how this story arc has had an annual and a special published alongside it, both essential reading to keep up. It suggests something big. I wish there’d been more specials, actually, for the supporting cast.

It’s a great issue.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 6; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, Kano, Tonci Zonjic and David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 12 (February 2008)

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Is there even a fight this issue? Wait, yes. Davos gets beat up for being a tool last issue.

The art chores are apparently getting to be too much for Aja, as Javier Pulido fills in on some of the pages. Pulido covers the stuff with Luke, Misty and Colleen, but also some of the K’un-L’un stuff… so it’s not like there’s any rhyme or reason to it. In fact, at the beginning I just thought it was Aja trying a new style. Pulido’s great… so great one might wish he was doing the whole book.

Kano does the flashbacks, which feature Danny’s father fleeing K’un-L’un.

Brubaker and Fraction give the background on the revolution here. The Thunderer is going up against the ruler, Yu-Ti, who is revealed to be a tyrant. Shame they couldn’t foreshadowed it.

It’s good–there’s some great dialogue–but it’s real jumbled.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 5; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, Kano, Javier Pulido and David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 11 (January 2008)

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I feel like I’m missing something. It seems like Yu-Ti (the “mayor” of K’un-L’un) is secretly bad, but I’m not sure if it’s in the comic or if I’m just remembering it. I mean, he seems really bad. But he could just be a sexist jerk too.

Some more great Kano art for the flashback, this time concentrating on Davos. The flashbacks work differently here, with them being intercut a lot less organically. It’s jarring–it comes in the middle of a tournament fight–but effective.

Danny briefly teams up with Luke, Misty and Colleen to fight some Hydra agents. It’s barely a fight scene, so it’s not clear why he was worried about it. We also get to see the big Hydra plan–to attack K’un-L’un–and apparently Danny’s figured this out too.

It’s a faster read than usual, with Brubaker and Fraction experimenting with tone.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 4; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, David Aja and Kano; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 10 (December 2007)

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It’s nice Danny gets the cover, because he’s not in the issue at all.

The intrigue really starts coming together here, with the Thunderer revealed to be in some secret society with Orson’s daughter, terror priests (guessing priest has a different connotation in K’un-L’un) sent out into the world to hunt for Danny, the Hydra bad guy getting busy with his attack, the Thunderer and Davos’s unspoken family problems… the list goes on and on.

Not to mention Misty’s GPS doesn’t work!

Plus there’s a tournament match, which shows off the nastiness of one of Danny’s (presumed) future opponents.

The flashback art is great this time–it’s Kano showing Wendell Rand in his pursuit of the Iron Fist mantle. It’s a shame Kano doesn’t get more work.

Brubaker and Fraction fill the issue; it’s a bridging issue for the arc–introducing the intrigue and drama–but it works great.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 3; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, David Aja and Kano; colorists, Matt Hollingsworth, Aja and Kano; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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