In 1974 Carl Douglas let the world know with a #1 hit that "Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting." Around that time, Marvel Comics was also embracing the Kung Fu craze sweeping America by introducing a number of Kung Fu themed characters. In November 2006, to paraphrase Douglas, "Those cats will again be fast as lightning," because one of Marvel's most popular masters of the martial arts will be reintroduced to readers in the pages of "The Immortal Iron Fist," a new ongoing series by writers Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker and featuring art by David Aja. CBR News spoke with Fraction about the series.
In the recent "Daredevil" #87, writer Ed Brubaker revealed that Danny Rand AKA Iron Fist had been patrolling the streets of Hell's Kitchen in the guise of Daredevil in an effort to prove to the public that an incarcerated Matt Murdock (who had his secret identity outed) was not the costumed crime fighter. This was just the beginning of Brubaker's plans for Danny Rand; he wanted the character to have his own book again. "Ed was kicking the idea around. He really wanted to get to Iron Fist. but with all his commitments he was pretty busy," Fraction told CBR News. "He was looking for a little bit of help to make it possible and he came to me. We put the pitch together and Marvel went for it."
Brubaker came to Fraction because he knew of his fellow writer's affinity for Iron Fist, "I love all of the Marvel 'Sploitation era characters like Power Man, the Daughters of the Dragon, and all that stuff," Fraction said.
Fraction is having a great time collaborating with Brubaker in chronicling Danny Rand's exploits. "It's a blast. I'm doing the scripting and we're co-plotting together," Fraction explained. "We get on the phone and bounce ideas back and forth. We're fans of the character and we're trying to write the book as fans of the character. Ed certainly knows his way around the Marvel Universe a lot more than I do. So it is a learning experience for me creatively, but for the most part I just think we're trying to out write one another; sort of put one spin on the next and one up each other. The grand mystery to people who love Iron Fist is, 'Why hasn't this guy ever been huge?' Why hasn't he been a lasting character? Why haven't there been takes that stick? I think we're trying to write that kind of book. We're trying to write a book that explains to the world what it is we see in this crazy character."
Both Fraction and Brubaker feel the all the crazy individual elements of Iron Fist combine to make the perfect comic book character. "He's a scion of an ancient kung-fu legacy who is a rich billionaire with a really hot girlfriend," Fraction stated. "And he goes around kicking and punching stuff. There's nothing not to like."
When "Iron Fist" opens, Danny Rand finds himself at a crossroads in life. "Danny's come through his time as Daredevil and through 'Civil War' and he's trying to reconnect with the Iron Fist legacy and what it means for him," explained Fraction. "He's trying to understand what the mantle is and everything else."
The opening five issue arc of "Iron Fist" will examine Danny Rand as well as some of the other individuals who have assumed the mantle of Iron Fist. "The title of the series is 'The Immortal Iron Fist' and from moment to moment we're looking at Iron Fists throughout time," Fraction explained. "Starting with the Genghis Khan era and then there's going to be the 16th century Chinese pirate Iron Fist at sea and all this kind of totally insane stuff.
"So, it's really about what it means to be an Iron Fist," Fraction continued "Not 'The Iron Fist' but 'An Iron Fist' because we're seeing all these different ones throughout history and seeing how Danny incorporates all of this into his life."
The history of Iron Fist will serve to complicate Danny's life as the past deeds of one of his predecessors come to light in the present. "We're going to find out who the previous Iron Fist was immediately before Danny," Fraction said. "What he did a long time ago, that's going to come back to haunt Danny. This is sort of about who was the Iron Fist in the '20s and '30s."
In addition to contending with the sins of the past Iron Fist, Danny Rand will also have to unravel an international conspiracy that has targeted his civilian identity. "There's a degree of international intrigue as well, in terms of what's going on with the Rand Corporation," Fraction explained. "It's sort of where Danny is going not only as Iron Fist, but where he's going as Danny Rand, the businessman; where he's taking his company and everything else. So, Danny is forced to fight a war on all fronts as he's at this crossroads."
The war Danny fights will take him all over the globe and the present day action will be interspersed with flashbacks. "We're certainly all through time and space without giving to much away as to where we're headed," Fraction stated.
Fraction couldn't give too much away about the supporting cast of "Iron Fist." "I've got to kind of keep some of my cards close to my chest," Fraction said. "But the relationship that we're most interested in is between Danny and the previous Iron Fist."
Because of the events of "Civil War," Fraction also had to be cryptic when addressing whether or not the series will examine any of Danny's relationships in the superhero community. "There is 'Civil War' stuff there that I can't talk about," Fraction stated. "This is Danny and his legacy and what it means. It's him coming out of 'Civil War' and trying to get a perspective on all of this stuff. So, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Danny's old friends show up."
If any of Danny's old friends do show up, they will most likely find themselves getting into trouble alongside him because Fraction assures readers that "The Immortal Iron Fist," will be a series full of action. "It's all out kung-fu action," he said. "It's got more kicking and punching than should be allowed. It's just high octane, big, epic, crazy action. We're dealing with a character that has a history in weaving together these big, sweeping character moments around these tremendous action set pieces."
Fraction has been amazed by the way artist David Aja is bringing the tremendous action set pieces in the series to life. "He is going to be a superstar," Fraction stated. "He is tremendous. You are not going to believe it. This guy is going to go supernova and it's a delight that we can say, 'Oh we worked with him when.' This guy is going to be huge."
Fraction hopes fan response to "The Immortal Iron Fist" will be huge, because he and his fellow collaborators are having a great time crafting a story that they hope will reintroduce one of their favorite Marvel characters to both old fans and a new generation of readers. "We're redefining him by defining him because he's so completely fucking awesome and no takes on the character have really stuck a landing," Fraction explained. "We don't want to change him, his back story, or any of that stuff; so much as we want to bulk it up and reintroduce it and put the spotlight on it. After 'Daredevil' and 'Civil War' now is the time. Now is the time to put Danny on stage and write a kick-ass book with a kick-ass character. That whole sleazy Marvel '70s pocket universe of characters is so fantastic. We've got a chance to play with those icons, put them through the motions and reintroduce them."