“Immortal Weapons” #5 wraps up this five-issue series with the second-strongest issue of the bunch. While not quite as good as Jason Aaron’s exploration into the sexual prowess of Fat Cobra, David Lapham’s tale of the Prince of Orphans is a solid pulp adventure tale that fits into the scheme of the 21st century Iron Fist milieu.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “solid,” since much of this issue involves spectral beings at battle with the green mist of John Aman, but it’s a good comic, no matter what adjective I use.
The conclusion to the “Caretakers” story in the back of the issue — by Duane Swierczynski and Hatuey Diaz — isn’t very good, though, but it’s short and inconsequential. Diaz does show a glimmer of inventiveness in this installment (seemingly absent from his previous work on this back-up, after replacing Travel Foreman halfway through the story), and the page where Iron Fist fires up his hand and smashes into the ice is the best-looking page in the entire issue.
The main story — the Prince of Orphans story — also features Iron Fist, as John Aman summons him to help out with a nagging problem. Though with the enigmatic Aman involved, you know it won’t be something minor. It’s about rescuing the souls of ten thousand loyal warriors — basically the Marvel Universe version of Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army — while Danny Rand punches an enormous red dragon as many times as possible.
I mentioned Diaz’s one page of glory in the back-up, but artist Arturo Lozzi and colorist June Chung do a nice job on the main story. Lozzi has a kind of a Bronze Age comic meets pulp illustration style, and though his work looks good enough in the first half of the issue, it really turns into something special when the Prince of Orphans assumes the Green Mist form and the blue-ish warriors engage him in battle. Chung’s delicate hues add grace and dignity to the conflict, even as the panels fill with deadly weapons and fierce combat techniques.
Overall, this is one of the few installments of the “Immortal Weapons” series that has approached the quality of the “Immortal Iron Fist” series from which it sprang. David Lapham steers the ship confidently here, not adding a whole lot in the way of personal touches (though his Danny Rand has a sense of humor about his situation that we haven’t seen from many other Iron Fist writers), but mostly just continuing the kung-fu pulp adventure tradition that helped the main series achieve such critical interest.
Hopefully, we’ll see more of these characters in the near future, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing someone of the caliber of David Lapham take the Iron Fist family in a new direction. But for now, this is a comfortable reminder of the good old, relatively recent, days.