WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Iron Fist: Phantom Limb #1 and 2, by Clay Chapman and Guillermo Sanna, on sale now.
Like the other non-Daredevil members of the Defenders, Iron Fist’s new comic is a digital series before coming to physical as a trade. With its first two issues, Iron Fist: Phantom Limb by Clay McLeod Chapman, Guillermo Sanna, Lee Roughride, and Travis Lanham puts Danny Rand on a new path, one that finds a novel way to explore well worn territory for the hero of K’un L’un.
During a fight with the Wrecker in the middle of a carnival, Danny was unable to save a young boy, and the failure to keep the child from being injured and falling into a coma has haunted Danny. In between moping and one night stands, he meets a fortune teller trying to read his palm. Naturally, the fortune teller winds up being a powerful demon known as Mo Wang, king of the demons. While Danny’s been sulking, Mo Wang has been posing as a fortune teller to read palms and turn people into vessels that ramp up the body horror in a way normally not seen in an Iron Fist comic.
Having possessed the boy Danny couldn’t save, Mo Wang is all too happy to try and take the power of the Iron Fist for himself. When Danny starts to resist Wang’s power, the demon decides the next step is to quite literally cut off Danny’s Iron Fist hand, and despite Danny’s efforts to chase his now sentient appendage down while fighting demons (and his hand’s attempts to kill him using the martial arts knowledge it’s gained over the years), Wang winds up absorbing the Fist into his body, leaving Danny limbless and relying on Luke Cage to carry him away from the carnage he just went through.
Danny losing the power of the Iron Fist isn’t anything new, of course; he went through the same thing just in the second season of his own show last month. But there’s certainly a big difference between losing a superpower and losing a physical part of your body. In fact, it makes you wonder why none of his other many foes have thought to just do that before instead of trying to take his powers through supernatural means.
As expected, hands play a big part of Phantom Limb, focusing on the ways that hands allow us to connect with other people. Even among the more violent scenes of the book, there’s a deeper intimacy that comes into play whenever two people are using their hands to connect, which makes it all the more shocking when the story dips into hand-based body horror.
Inevitably, Danny will get the Iron Fist back, because that’s how these things work. But the loss of his actual hand makes the act of reclaiming his power much more difficult and truly figure out who he is without the thing that’s defined him for decades.
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