He's one of the Marvel Universe's most accomplished martial artists and the champion of an extradimensional city. His adventures have earned him a devoted legion of fans. His name is the Immortal --Fat Cobra?
Starting in July, readers will get to learn more about Fat Cobra and his fellow Immortal Weapons in a series of five extra-long one-shots that will temporarily take the place of the regular "Immortal Iron Fist" series. CBR News spoke with editor Warren Simons and "Immortal Weapons: Fat Cobra" writer Jason Aaron about the project.
The "Immortal Weapons" one-shots came about thanks to the tremendous fan response to the titular characters, who were introduced in the second "Iron Fist" arc titled "The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven." "Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker and David Aja did a terrific job creating these incredibly bizarre and wonderful characters that inhabit Danny Rand's world, and they seemingly hit the page fully formed," Warren Simons told CBR News. "A large part of that is due to how absolutely beautiful David Aja designed and executed them. I mean, check out how deftly Aja introduces all of the Immortal Weapons to us in issue #8. Really great stuff.
"With the framing sequences, the one-shots featuring different time periods, and the empires of hypothetical science, Iron Fist is a book that can go anywhere, and it seemed a natural fit for us to take a look at the characters individually."
Out of all the Immortal Weapons, fans seemed to respond to Fat Cobra the most, so Simons thought it only natural to kick off the series of one-shots by focusing on the rotund but rapid martial artist. "I've been at Marvel for a few years now, and I know that you don't run away from sales gold, baby," the editor remarked. "Don't tell Quesada -- I know I like to play it cool -- but I've got my eye on the prize, you know? We've got a fat kid in makeup singing opera. Don't believe me? Check out an excerpt of the killer script Jason Aaron put together for the first issue, 'The Book of the Fat Cobra.' Here, a writer named Carmichael -- who Fat Cobra has hired to track down his history -- delivers some news to the rotund one."
Carmichael opens the book again, starting to read.
CARMICHAEL: All right, if you insist...
CARMICHAEL: After your exile from Peng Lai, you were taken in
by a Peking Opera school on the mainland. There you received training in dance and acrobatics, as well as your first instruction in the martial arts.
Fat Cobra brightens up, suddenly excited.
FAT COBRA: Aha! Now we're getting somewhere! This is
where I became a great warrior, no?
CARMICHAEL: Well... no. But you did become something else.
Flashback of 10 year old Fat Cobra, on stage singing opera, dressed in
an ornate costume:
CAPTION (Carmichael): "The most promising young opera singer in all of
"You see, you didn't think Jason would go there, but he went there, and now we are there," Simons continued. "Or we will be there. So there. The sales guys were all over it. They were like, Spider-Who? DAMN THE TORPEDOES, BABY!"
Jason Aaron was already a huge fan of the work of previous "Iron Fist" scribes Fraction and Brubaker as well as current writer Duane Swierczynski, so when Simmons called him up to offer the Fat Cobra one-shot the writer eagerly accepted the assignment. "We don't really know a whole lot about Fat Cobra except that he's fat and loves his wine, and wenches in waiting. That's about it. So I pretty much got to flesh out his story and tell his origin," Aaron told CBR. "The idea behind the one-shot is that Fat Cobra is a pretty old guy. He's been around for a little over a hundred years and over the course of that time he's drank vast amounts of intoxicants. So his past is a little bit of a haze. He can't remember too much of it."
As Simons mentioned, Cobra's inability to recall his past leads him to hire a writer to investigate his background and compile it into a detailed narrative. The one-shot begins when the writer shows up to read Fat Cobra his finished work. "Fat Cobra realizes that this is not the story he hoped it would be and that maybe there was a reason he had forgotten a lot of it," Aaron said. "We see the story of the city he was born in, his birth, his parents, his various struggles to become his city's Immortal Weapon, as well as his other adventures and travails over the decades. It's a story of great battles, amazing kung-fu fights, thrilling adventures, huge amounts of food, wine, and beautiful women."
Aaron has populated the story of Fat Cobra's life with an eclectic cast of characters, both brand new and established. "You'll see his original teacher in the city he was born in. We'll see the nine headed serpent he had to defeat to become an Immortal Weapon," Aaron stated. "You'll all see everyone from Ulysses Bloodstone and Union Jack to Elvis Presley, as well as Fat Cobra's very unique battle against Goo Gam, son of Goom."
Presently, Fat Cobra is one of the best fighters in the Marvel Universe, but that doesn't he's going to win **all** his fights in Jason Aaron's one-shot. "My story is seeing how he got to that point," the writer explained. "And what price he had to pay to become that great of a fighter."
The tone of "Fat Cobra" is a mix of both action, tragedy, and comedy. Explained Aaron, "There's stuff in the book that may be reminiscent of the newest issue of 'Ghost Rider' that Tony Moore drew, which gave you a tour through the history of the Ghost Rider in America. You saw a lot of craziness in that and there's a bit of craziness in this story as well. But we'll also see some real emotions and a good bit of tragedy that he's had to endure over the years."
Jason Aaron is happy to be collaborating with artist Mico Suayan on "Fat Cobra." "He's great. I think the first thing I saw of his was his work on 'Moon Knight' and I loved it. I think this story will provide a lot of opportunity for some wild off the wall action scenes and some intense emotion. It should be a fun ride."
Writing the "Fat Cobra" one-shot has been loads of fun for Aaron, and given the chance, the writer would love to revisit the character and the world he inhabits. "It might be interesting to do a story with him in 'Wolverine: Weapon X.' And certainly that playground, the world of 'Iron Fist' is always one I'll be interested in coming back to."
While each issue of the Immortal Weapons series features a different character in a one-shot story by a different creative team, they'll all have something tying them together; a different installment of Duane Swierczynski's five-part back-up story will run in each issue. " Let's just say that even if Cage is busy, Danny Rand still needs a partner. So we might see Danny's new partner here. But we might not. Duane usually writes when he's hammered," Simons laughed. "This guy makes Edgar Allan Poe look like he had his $*&$ together -- so we'll see what arrives."
The "Immortal Weapons" one-shots are taking the place of "The Immortal Iron Fist," but dedicated readers shouldn't fret; the hiatus is only temporary. "The book is not canceled. No, I'm just kidding, it is! No, it's not!" Simons said. "The six-page backup stories running through all five issues have received the in-continuity stamp of approval by the continuity committee, so those are part of the series. And after the 'Immortal Weapons' series ends, we have some crazy plans coming up for late 2009/early 2010. Danny Rand is alive and, well--you could say he's alive and kicking."
"Immortal Weapons: Fat Cobra" goes on sale in July from Marvel Comics.