Danny Rand has become a big player in the Marvel Universe, but he's done so by using the guise of another superhero, Daredevil. This month, in the pages of the new ongoing series "The Immortal Iron Fist" by writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, Rand takes the spotlight and once again assumes the mantle of the heroic legacy he inherited, Iron Fist. CBR News spoke with the man tasked with bringing to life Iron Fist's return to the Marvel Universe, Spanish artist David Aja.
Aja's Iron Fist assignment was born out of a trip to the Big Apple. "Last May, I visited New York with my wife, and I was taking a photo in a cool, dark alley when suddenly Daredevil was jumping around in there," Aja told CBR News. "As I had read Brubaker's scripts because I was drawing 'Daredevil' # 88 ('Daredevil' # 87 wasn't out yet), I knew he wasn't Matt and I called him Danny, heh, and the guy gets petrified, you should see his face, dude. But after talking to him for a while, he thought I must be the one to draw him, if only to make sure that I don't give him those ballet shoes. That night I had dinner with Warren Simons, my editor, who told me about Bru's idea of doing a limited series about Iron Fist, so I told him my story and he thought it would be better not to annoy a guy who knows kung fu."
Once he got the assignment, one of the first things Aja wanted to do was update Iron Fist's costume for the new millennium. "I did more than twenty re-designs for Danny's costume; most of them did not have the collar and none of them had the ballet shoes," Aja said. "After hard days deliberating, we finally choose one of the most risky ones, as you can see on the preview. I have also designed the past Iron Fist costumes (based on Matt and Bru's notes) that Travel Forman is drawing -- and very well by the way, his art is amazing. I think your gonna have fun with this book, at least the script is good."
Aja has enjoyed bringing to life Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction's scripts and wants to capture every little nuance of the duo's writings. "Those two guys are great. They are like good cop/bad cop, you know, each one plays his role for getting what they want from me, but instead of being two cops they are some kind of extra-terrestrial-entity above goodness and badness," Aja joked. "I love their work."
To bring to life Brubaker and Fraction's work, Aja is using techniques and a style appropriate to the needs of the story. "I'm not sure about having a usual style," he stated, "When I was a child (yes, this is the boring interview time where I talk about my childhood, you know, a close-up shot and Richard Clayderman piano playing in the background, while I have a far-away look and an asshole smile on my face), I was copying comics the whole day, I have my own superhero universe (I called it Aja Comics, subtle, isn't it?). But what I really did was to do some Miller, Zeck, Wrightson, Steranko or Bolland (for example) pages, but changing my characters for the Marvel-D.C. ones. I learned to draw by copying anything I saw and if I liked it (could be a film or a toy or a panel), I had to draw it. It was some kind of physical need. I remember once, I was about four; I tried to copy Picasso's Guernica. So yes, I use different techniques for the book."
While working on "Iron Fist," Aja has not thought about how his work compares to the other artists who have depicted Danny Rand's adventures before him. "Narrative and page composition is what is most important to me," he explained. "There's aIssue #1, page 10
Spanish proverb my Mam used to say, 'comparisons are hateful,' and who am I to not do what my Mam says? Well yes, I know probably I haven't for most of my life. My favorite Iron Fist artists are Gil Kane, Byrne and Kerry Gammill."
Working on "The Immortal Iron Fist" has proved to be both a difficult and rewarding assignment for Aja. "I'm having the chance now to work on a #1 issue of a Marvel comic, with a character I loved and drew when I was a kid. When I was a child and played as a superhero I was Iron Fist many times (yeah, another filthy Richard Clayderman moment), so it's obvious that, in that way, I'm living a kind of dream, but that is what makes it harder at the same time too. You know the saying, the higher we climb the farther we fall. Also, when I finish a work, I am always very critical of it, but I suppose that's good, if I was able to do a perfect comic I would stop doing them."