I have to admit, as the “Immortal Weapons” mini-series has continued, I’ve been increasingly pleased with it. What seemed like a strange publishing decision, putting the supporting cast of “The Immortal Iron Fist” into their own mini-series while the actual series went on indefinite hiatus, has turned out a thoroughly enjoyable group of one-shots focusing on the other mystical martial artists that Danny Rand hangs out with on occasion.
This month’s installment brings Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter to the foreground, in what feels like a predictable story but still pulls something special out of its hat by the end. The bulk of the story is obvious; after all, you know that by the end Li Hua will become the Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter, master warrior. So when we meet her as an untrained woman who lives to hear her father’s stories of battle and yearns to somehow be allowed to fight as well, it’s hard to not groan a bit. In some ways, though, it’s Duane Swierczynski distracting the reader from the smaller pieces of the puzzle. There are a few surprises lurking inside this comic, and when they appear it’s obvious that Swierczynski had planted them all along even as he pointed elsewhere. When the climax hits, it’s satisfying; not only because it’s a good ending, but because it’s a perfectly paced origin story. Everything you need to know about Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter is there, and it’s easy to look ahead and see where her life is going. It’s a pity all origin stories aren’t this concise and interesting.
Khari Evans’s pencils are a smart match for this story; they remind me a lot of the art that Travel Foreman drew for “The Immortal Iron Fist,” with that blocky but lanky way that both artists draw bodies. There’s a moment towards the end of the issue where Li Hua shouts, “Destroy them all!” but the only part of her face you can see are her eyes. Those eyes, though, tell you everything you need to know about how she’s feeling right there. It’s a strong usage of body language, putting just the right amount of emphasis in the panel without making it cartoonish, and it’s a smart look for the book. Evans’ pencils also mesh wonderfully with June Chung’s colors; there’s an opening two-page splash in the issue where the hues of red seem to waft across the page. Evans and Chung should definitely collaborate together more.
“Immortal Weapons” #4 is another pleasing installment of this mini-series. At this point I don’t know if we’ll see the return of “The Immortal Iron Fist” or not, but if we don’t then I feel like the series (including these issues) has gone out on a high note. Swierczynski and company are bringing back that same amount of fun that Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction initially infused to the title. With stories like this, I’ll keep coming back.