Few superheroes embody the concept of legacy like Marvel’s Iron Fist, who bears a mantle that stretches back deep into the past, and, as depicted in The Immortal Iron Fist, will continue into the future. While other crime-fighters have passed their costumed identities to successors, Danny Rand has never had a true protege, at least until the just-finished miniseries Immortal Iron Fists.
Written by Kaare Andrews and illustrated by Afu Chan, it’s actually a sequel to 2014’s Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, which ended with the introduction of a new Iron Fist, a preteen girl named Pei who has the distinction of being the youngest to ever wield the power of the Iron Fist. With nowhere else to go, Pei finds herself adopted by Danny and sent to live with him in New York (along with a baby dragon adorably nicknamed Gork, who grants the power of the Iron Fist when fully grown). In some ways, the title serves as the best idea of what Marvel Legacy could be.
In recent years, Marvel has leaned heavily into the idea of history and legacy. Nearly all of the publisher’s big name heroes have had at least two people take on their mantle, sometimes temporarily, other times permanently (or as close as you can get in comics). The recent series of Generations one-shots best showcases this, as it brought current legacy heroes and their predecessors together to show what one can learn from the other. Iron Fist, sadly, wasn’t part of this mini-event, but that ended up working well in the Living Weapon’s favor, as it gave Andrews and Chan’s book the chance to explore what a legacy really means without needing a gimmick such as the Vanishing Point.
Legacy flows throughout Immortal Iron Fists , with Danny making sure that Pei actually has a childhood before embracing all that comes with being an Iron Fist. Previous holders of the Fist grew up training for the responsibility before gaining it in adulthood, but because Pei is a child and taken away from K’un Lun, tradition has to change. Her existence upends everything that both characters knew about the Iron Fist, and they’re equally out of their element, continuing the feeling of being an outsider that came with Danny’s origin. (Even the typically curved dragon an Iron Fist sports on their chest is arranged more like a floral pattern on her back.) The modern day culture of high school ensures that Pei has harrowing problems of her own, either being bullied simply for existing, or forced to decide between friends who like her for her and those who like her just because her guardian is a world-class superhero.
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