Stairway to Heaven: Fraction Talks "The Immortal Iron Fist"

A fight is raging. Seven of the deadliest hand-to-hand combatants have come together to test their skills in a tournament held on the mysterious plane of heaven. One of them is Danny Rand, the Iron Fist. This is the premise of "The Seven Capitol Cities of Heaven," the current storyline of Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction and David Aja's "The Immortal Iron First," one of the most beloved and action-packed Marvel Comics titles to come along in years. CBR News talked Danny Rand's chances in the tournament and more with co-writer Matt Fraction.

Over the past nine issues and the recent "Iron Fist" annual, Danny Rand has discovered a host of wondrous and sometimes frightening truths about the legacy he's inherited. "Not to get too metaphorical or metaphysical about things but I hope Danny's arc this first year is the same as readers,'" Fraction told CBR News. "Part of remembering why Iron Fist is awesome is reminding Danny of it, too, and celebrating it. Having him realize, 'I'm completely awesome! I love me!' We want to make things new and exciting to invest Danny in his legacy and hopefully bring readers along with us.

"The Iron Fist legacy was something that was always touched on but never explained," Fraction continued. "So it always drove Ed [Brubaker] crazy. There was a shot of young Danny standing in front of the Iron Fist costume and he was told, 'One day this will all be yours.' So it's just been waiting there to be answered."

Danny started to receive answers about the Iron Fist legacy when Orson Randall, the Iron Fist from the early 20 th century, entered his life. Randall is gone now; slain by Davos, Danny Rand's archenemy. Now, one of Randall's adversaries, Mr. Xao, is currently bedeviling Rand. "The current Mr. Xao is part of the Xao family dynasty," Fraction explained. "It's the family's mission to destroy K'un-Lun, the mystical city from where all Iron Fists originate, and they've been playing in this arena for a very long time."

To learn more about the Xao family and Orson Randall, Danny Rand had to lose his first fight in the tournament between the living weapons of the mystical Seven Capital of Heaven. Issue #10 of "Iron Fist," on sale November 7, will show readers what's happening with the other bouts in the competition. "Danny doesn't actually appear at all in issue #10," Fraction revealed. "It's a move we like to call 'sales suicide.' You do get to see Dog Brother #1 fight the Bride of Nine Spiders, though. David Aja   just sent me a chunk of pages from the fight scene and it's the creepiest and weirdest thing I've ever seen. If everything drawn makes it on the page I'll be amazed."

Danny Rand may have lost his fight with Fat Cobra, his opponent in issue #8, but that doesn't mean he and the other first round losers are out of the tournament. "All the losers will get to fight each other," Fraction explained. "There's the first tier winner who survives the entire tournament; then all the losers fight each other in a Battle Royale. Then the last man standing fights the winner of the tournament proper. That's how the champion is decided."

"The Seven Capitol Cities of Heaven" storyline sprang directly from the revelations about the Iron Fist legacy in the series' first arc, "The Last Iron Fist Story," and Fraction and Brubaker plan to continue to probe and explore the Iron Fist legacy with future story arcs. "Danny's got this amazing resource in the book that Orson gave him," Fraction said, referring to the sacred text containing all the kung-fu secrets of K'un-Lun. "They kept this information from him in K'un-Lun because they didn't want another Orson Randall on their hands. They didn't want someone else running away. Now that Danny has access to this entire history, he's learning an awful lot more and becoming much more aware of how big the mantle of the Iron Fist really is."

In future issues, the Iron Fist legacy will continue to be explored by Danny Rand in the present day as well as by the Iron Fists of the past in the occasional "Times Past" issue. "The next one is in issue #16," Fraction stated. "It's the story of the Iron Fist who went to India."

Orson Randall's story may have came to an end in "The Immortal Iron Fist" #5, but if Fraction has his way, readers will see more of the early exploits of Randall and his team of adventurers from the "Iron Fist Annual," The Confederates of the Curious. "I'd love to get back to them," Fraction said. "I'd love to do those kinds of ridiculous, fun, pulp stories.   We'll see. Nothing is on the books at the moment but it's such a rich world and its stories are so much fun to write that at one point I said to our editor Warren Simons, 'I'll do this as a series right now. I'll branch off. Ed could do regular Iron Fist and I'd do Golden Age Iron Fist -- and I would, too!"

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