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The Deadly Hands & Bullets of Kung-Fu? Fraction Talks “The Immortal Iron Fist.”

by  in Comic News Comment
The Deadly Hands & Bullets of Kung-Fu?  Fraction Talks “The Immortal Iron Fist.”
“The Immortal Iron First” #5

Danny Rand, the star of Marvel Comics’ "The Immortal Iron Fist," thought he knew all there was to being Iron Fist, but in recent issues he’s discovered there’s much he doesn’t know and what he doesn’t know will get him killed. CBR News spoke with "Iron Fist" co-writer Matt Fraction (who co-writes the series with Ed Brubaker) about the book and what’s in store for Danny Rand.

As readers of "Iron Fist" #1-4 have seen, there are a host of surprising revelations that Danny Rand is dealing with and will have to deal with. "I think Danny is getting the slow, sinking suspicion that he’s on the bottom rung of an entirely new ladder and issues #5-6 continue with that," Fraction told CBR News. "Our mission statement with the first arc is to remind people why Iron Fist is worth loving in the first place and to reconnect the character with everything that made him great and trim off the stuff that doesn’t work. It’s about reminding everyone why Iron Fist is awesome. We want to reconnect and reenergize the character with his roots and give him a 21 st century spin. We’re growing the legend and mythology. I think that’s an awful traumatic change for someone to go through. I think when we’re done with him, Danny will probably have wished to have been left alone in his sort of D-list mediocrity."

Danny has yet to learn of one the biggest shocks regarding the Iron Fist mythology, which came at the end of issue #4, the existence of another ancient fabled secret city, the city of K’un-Zi. "Actually what you’re going to find out as time goes on is that there’s seven cities, all together," Fraction explained. "K’un-Lun is one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. Who the other cities are and why we’re learning about them right now is kind of the point of the second arc, which is called ‘The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven.’   There are these seven mystical cities around the globe and they each rotate in and out of our plane on a different time cycle.

“The Immortal Iron First” #5, pages 4-5

"Each City has their own champion with his own agenda, own powers, own Kung fu style, and own animal totem," Fraction continued. "K’un-Lun’s is the Dragon and K’un-Zi’s is the Crane. This is going to get really interesting, really quick for Danny. He’s going to find himself in rarefied air."

At the end of issue #4 readers met the champion of K’un-Zi and he was a very familiar face to "Iron Fist" fans; Danny Rand’s old enemy Davos AKA Steel Serpent. "Davos has traded up," Fraction stated. "He’s sort of changed his citizenship. If K’un-Lun doesn’t want him to be their champion, fine! He doesn’t want to be K’un-Lun’s champion! He’ll go out and find himself a new place, new powers, and all kinds of terrible new ideas."

Also at the end of issue #4, "Iron Fist" readers caught just a few glimpses of some of the terrible ideas present in the city of K’un-Zi, a city ruled by the Crane Mother. In many Asian cultures the Crane is a symbol of longevity. "It’s a cool symbol and is kind of creating an interesting friction. You’ll notice that the Crane Mother is ancient," Fraction stated. "K’un-Zi is a female based city. We’ll actually be learning in ‘Iron Fist’ #7, when we look at the legend of Wu Ao-Shi, why women aren’t allowed to learn kung fu in K’un-Lun. K’un-Lun is sort of a masculine place, so we wanted to present an alternative place. The fact that they’re kind of in bed with Davos both literally and figuratively is an interesting twist and more will be revealed."

“The Immortal Iron Fist” #5, page 6

It was also revealed in issue #4, when Orson Randall used his twin Colt .45’s to fire off what he called, "Lightning From God," that the abilities of Iron Fist can be used for more than Danny Rand had imagined. "It’s the same power. It just has different applications," Fraction explained. "What we’re going to see as Danny learns more of the Iron Fist’s past is that Danny sort of focused the chi into his fist, but we’ve seen another Iron Fist that focused Chi into his mind and Wu Ao-Shi focused it into external objects that she touched. Everyone creates these different applications for what to do with it. It’s the same power, we’re just looking for new and interesting ways to use it that logically don’t contradict themselves; that extend naturally out of what the character’s origin and tradition is. So, it’s like the various types of Kung fu."

The Kung fu skills and powers of Iron Fist may serve Danny Rand and Orson Randall in their battles against Davos and the hordes of Hydra, but they might not be so effective against the real mastermind that they’re up against. "Mr. Xao is the real snake in the grass and hopefully the one that no one is paying attention to; hopefully when we reveal him to be the super mastermind behind everyone the readers are like, ‘Wow! I never saw this coming.’ Oh wait unless people read this interview . . . [laughs]," Fraction said. "If Davos is Danny’s opposite number, we wanted Xao to be Jeryn’s opposite number [Jeryn Hogarth, Danny’s attorney and close confidant] as sort of a Hydra super businessman bringing   his terrible and crazy kung fu board room skills to bear."

Mr. Xao’s mysterious agenda was also hinted at in issue #4, which involves Maglev Trains. "It’s a very specific type of train and there’s a reason why he wants them going through the K’un-Lun Mountain Range," Fraction explained. "Xao is really the brains of this operation and where he goes in the next arc is going to be really, really fun to write and really horrible for all the characters that we know and love. Me and Ed are having a blast with it."

“The Immortal Iron Fist” #5, page 7

"The Last Iron Fist Story," the first "Iron Fist" story arc, is rocketing towards its conclusion and Fraction believes readers will be blown away when they read and see the action that awaits them in issue #5, the penultimate chapter of the arc (which is in stores May 9 th ). "Issue #5 has one of the definitive action set pieces of the year as far as I’m concerned," Fraction stated. "I’m obviously biased because I’m one of the writers on the book and I love David Aja’s art.   David’s stuff combined with Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring to make the fight in the pneumatic subway station that opens issue #5, one of my favorite fight scenes of the year.

"I don’t want to blow anything, but the first arc is coming to a boil and there’s questions that won’t get answered and those lead us directly into the second arc," Fraction continued. "Hopefully it will keep us going throughout the first year, if not longer."

ne question about Iron Fist was recently answered by writer Brian Michael Bendis in the pages of "New Avengers" #29, a team which Danny is a member of. Readers saw it was the legal skills of Jeryn Hogarth that deterred the Mighty Avengers from arresting Danny Rand for violation of the Superhero Registration Act. "Brian addressed that brilliantly," Fraction said. "The Iron Fist Renaissance continues and I came up with an idea over the weekend that I have to talk to Brian and Ed about. It’s a cool idea that I want to head towards. And I have to make sure that it doesn’t negate anything else that anybody has planned and everybody is cool with it. I love the trajectory that Danny has been put on and I’ve got a cool idea for a finish line to get him to in the next six to eight months. You heard it here first! Something interesting might happen to Danny [laughs]."

“The Immortal Iron Fist” #5, page 8

Fraction feels there are a number of reasons why Danny has chosen to join up with the "New Avengers" and continue to fight crime in defiance of the Superhero Registration Act. "With his experience as a member of Heroes for Hire, Danny understands the importance of separate lives and ultimately he’s sort of a neo-Buddhist and really isn’t into messing around in people’s business," Fraction explained. "He has a public face and a private life that needs protecting. He doesn’t have a wife and kid, but his best friend Luke Cage does and Danny knows that makes them targets. He understands profoundly non-interference as a way of life."

Danny’s views on government non-interference are going to come back to haunt him. His views have put him at odds with his former girlfriend Misty Knight and friend Colleen Wing, who currently run the pro-registration Heroes for Hire.   When asked if there were plans for Danny to run to run into Misty and Colleen, Fraction said, "Yes and sooner rather than later."

Fraction also confirmed that he and Brubaker have plans to periodically tell tales spotlighting the various Iron Fists through out time. Their first one, issue #7, stars Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen Iron Fist. "It gives a break between arcs and gives the regular creative team a chance to recharge," Fraction stated. "It gives us a chance to tell these stories that enhance the experience, but aren’t these big deals. It also gives new people a chance to come in and see what the book is about. It gives us a chance to explore these cul-de-sacs as we’re trying to grow the myth. There are all kinds of interesting questions and characters to explore. but when you’re telling a six part story you don’t have a lot of room to follow those tangents. The response to Lady Chinese Pirate Iron Fist was pretty crazy so we thought, ‘Let’s do our first one off about her.’"

Fraction and Brubaker also have plans to tell some tales from the past of the Colt .45 wielding Iron Fist currently fighting along side Danny Rand, Orson Randall. "We want to do an annual later on in the year that focuses on Orson," Fraction said. "It gives us an opportunity to tell some cool Orson stories that we weren’t able to fit into the first arc."

Fraction is very happy and excited that the first arc of "The Immortal Iron Fist" has been so successful. "I love Iron Fist and thank you to everybody who has made this book not only viable, but some what of a hit," he stated. "I said it before and I’ll say it again; kung fu billionaire is a great idea for a comic [laughs]. There’s no reason it shouldn’t work. He’s so cool. I got to write a classic ‘Heroes for Hire’ style scene over the weekend and I was like, ‘These guys are just awesome.’ I love all of these characters; they’re a good time."

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.

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