The Marvel Universe is home to super-soldiers, gamma-irradiated hulks, aliens and world-conquering supervillains. But even more astonishing is that it’s a world in which two men have achieved such legendary mastery of the martial arts they’re able to fight alongside — or against — the MU’s most powerful figures. Of course, we’re talking about Danny Rand, the star of the new Iron Fist series by writer Ed Brisson and artist Mike Perkins, and Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu.
In next month’s Iron Fist #6, these two martial arts masters will join forces for a two-part arc of all-out kung-fu buddy action.
CBR spoke with Brisson about bringing together Danny and Shang, their dynamic, the forces they’ll face, the familiar and former Iron Fist foe waiting in the wings, and the joy of seeing Perkins bring his action-packed stories to life.
CBR: In your initial arc of Iron Fist, which came to a close in Issue 5, you brought Danny to an island of expatriates from K’un-Lun, the extradimensional city where he was raised and trained. There he faced off against one of K’un-Lun’s legendary masters and learned that if he wants to restore his malfunctioning chi powers he’ll eventually have to find a way back to the city. It seems this first arc was a way for you and Mike to remind Danny of his larger obligations while also having fun pitting him against some new characters. Was that your intention with this story, and is a trip back to K’un-Lun in Danny’s immediate future?
Ed Brisson: Absolutely. We wanted to reinforce that Danny is here, first and foremost, to fight for K’un-Lun. We also wanted to delve into K’un-Lun’s rich history, picking up threads from past stories and building on that in ways that seemed both logical and interesting. For me, when writing, I’m always looking at past stories and looking for areas where we can fill in some gaps in ways that pushes the story forward while paying homage to what’s come before.
As to Danny’s future, everything is leading him back to K’un-Lun, and he’s trying his damnedest to get back there. However, there are those who want to stop him. The path home is not going to be an easy one. And even when he gets there — if he gets there — he has no idea what’s waiting for him.
Iron Fist #6 kicks off a new arc that teams Danny with the Marvel Universe’s other top martial artist, Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu. What’s it like bouncing Danny off of Shang? How would you describe their initial dynamic?
Danny and Shang-Chi are the top kung-fu masters in the Marvel U, and I think that there’s a mutual respect between them. However, we wanted to play off that in these two issues. We’ve got them competing a little, even if it’s low-key and not at the forefront. There are comments here and there that let you know that they’re both aware that one is perhaps trying to outperform the other.
Since Shang-Chi is essentially there to save Danny, that puts Danny in a position where he feels like he’s got to prove himself capable. Shang-Chi tends to be the more serious of the two and doesn’t necessarily appreciate Danny’s quipping.
What can you tell us about the story that brings Shang-Chi and Iron Fist together? Where does this story take place?
The story takes place in Vancouver, which is where I lived up until last year. Danny’s on his way home to continue his journey back to K’un-Lun when his trip is delayed … by force. Shang-Chi shows up because he knows that Danny is in the crosshairs of a death cult for hire. He’s here to stop them with some sweet kung-fu force.
Is this death cult an established group in the Marvel Universe? Or a brand-new one that you and Mike created?
The group here, known as The Sight, led by a mysterious man known only as The Seer, are brand-new. We’ve never seen them before. They’ve operated largely in the shadows and kept themselves hidden. However, they have stepped out to take down Danny in order to get paid. What’s the point of being a bad-ass criminal enterprise if you can’t get that money?
The Sight and The Seer are creepy, like something plucked out of a nightmare. Mike really nailed the designs on them and pushes that unsettling feeling every time they appear. We wanted to blend horror and kung-fu and I’m pretty happy with the results.
Part of the joy of writing Iron Fist has got to be seeing Mike Perkins bring the story to life. What’s it like writing an action scene for Mike?
Oh, man, Mike’s fight scenes are pure magic. Getting those pages into my inbox always makes my day.
While I always write full-script, Mike and I have been doing the fight scenes mostly “Marvel-style” since the third issue. I’ll write a short synopsis for the page, with some dialog and/or captions, then Mike will go to town. Afterward, I go back in and add in sound fx and tweak the script so that it flows. We switched it up because Mike started handing in these fight scenes that were just incredible and, in some cases, 20+ panels more than I scripted. I felt that I needed to get out of his way and just let him go crazy on them.
I think it’s a pretty good system that we have going and it’s nice to have that much trust back and forth. I love working with Mike.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast in this second arc of Iron Fist? Will we see some friends or faces from Danny’s past?
This second arc is more of a mini-arc. It’s Shang-Chi, Danny, The Sight and The Seer. The third arc will see more folks from Danny’s past popping up. Most notably, Iron Fist will be squaring off against Sabretooth. Sabretooth first debuted in [1977’s] Iron Fist #14, and the two have gone toe to toe several times over the years. Just because Sabretooth has gone “good” doesn’t mean that the two have to get along.
Finally, Iron Fist is Danny’s solo book, but these days he’s part of a larger world that includes his friend Luke Cage, Luke’s wife Jessica Jones, and their Defenders’ teammate, Daredevil. Will there be some connective tissue between Iron Fist, Defenders, and those other characters’ books for readers who read all of them?
Right now, we’re focused on keeping each book its own thing. If people want to see Danny and Luke together, they can grab Defenders and get their fix there. Meanwhile, if someone’s craving a Luke Cage solo or an Iron Fist solo, then we got you covered there, too. Jessica Jones, it’s there, too. Of course there’s always a Daredevil book on the stands, too. To me, it’s important to make each book feel like its own unique world. Roping the rest of The Defenders into Iron Fist would just make it a Defenders book. There’s already a Defenders book. And it’s great!
Iron Fist #6, by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, goes on sale Aug. 2 from Marvel Comics.
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