In January of 2007, writers Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction and artist David Aja launched the ongoing series, "The Immortal Iron Fist." The kung-fu revival book quickly became one of Marvel Comics' most acclaimed and popular series, so writer Duane Swierczynski knew he had some big shoes to fill when he agreed to take over the book. In stores now, Swierczynski's "The Immortal Iron Fist" #17 kicks off a four-part arc titled "The Mortal Iron Fist." The issue finds Swierczynski and new artist Travel Foreman swinging for the fences, giving readers an exciting story full of ominous developments and action. CBR News spoke with Swierczynski about the storyline and what lies ahead for Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist.
During their sixteen-issue run on "The Immortal Iron Fist," Fraction and Brubaker explored the past of a number of people to carry the mantle of Iron Fist. In his first issue, Swierczynski fully embraced "The Immortal" part of Iron Fist by setting scenes in the past, the present and some place the title hasn't gone before: ten years into the future. "Brubaker and Fraction did a masterful job of showing Iron Fists of days past; where else could I go but the future?" Swierczynski told CBR News. Indeed, the future will continue to be an important part "The Immortal Iron Fist." Swierczynski plans to make flash-forwards part of his stories and is even considering a one-shot issue focusing on a future Iron Fist.
However, the past will still be an important part of Swierczynski's Iron Fist stories as well. In a sequence illustrated by the legendary Russ Heath, issue #17 flashbacks to 1878 and finds an Iron Fist named Kwai Jun-Fan wandering through West Texas. The sequence ends with what appears to be Jun-Fan's death, but Swierczynski wants to show more of the character's life in future issues. "Jun-Fan is my tip of the hat to the first Kung Fu hero I remember: David Carradine's Caine from 'Kung Fu,'" said the writer. "Caine wandered the Earth, looking for his half-brother; I dressed up in a bathrobe and wandered my rowhouse in Philadelphia, beating up my little brother. But I'd love to tell more of Jun-Fan's story down the road. I'm itching to do a balls-out, blood-and-dust-soaked 'eastern western' saga."
The first present day sequence in issue #17 sees Danny Rand and his best friend Luke Cage battling crime on New York City's mean streets. Readers can expect more urban action in upcoming issues. "Part of the fun of 'Iron Fist' is that while it concerns mystical cities, it's a series firmly rooted in the streets," Swierczynski said. "You're going to see the two worlds collide a lot."
Later, the action of issue #17 shifts from the streets to the boardroom, where Patrick Easton, the new Chief Operating Officer of Danny Rand's financial empire, makes his debut. "You'll see what he's all about soon enough, but I will give you one little hint: his name was a nod to Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis's 'American Psycho,'" Swierczynski revealed.
Easton was brought in because Danny Rand believes the remnants of the Hydra splinter cell that served Mr. Xao, the main villain from the first two "Immortal Iron Fist" arcs, have infiltrated his company. Rand is also feeling some anxiety over his on again, off again relationship with girlfriend Misty Knight, but he's most troubled by his recent discovery that most Iron Fists don't live past age 33 -- a birthday he just reached ï¿½" courtesy of an enigmatic and long-lived servant of Ch'i-Lin, an assassin armed with both mystical powers and a devious mind. "He's a spiritual hit man. Eternal--and eternally patient," Swierczynski stated. "He has lifetimes to plan hits, and when he makes a move, he tends to attack from as many angles as possible."
At the end of the issue #17, when the servant of Ch'i-Lin finally makes his move and attacks Danny Rand, Iron Fist is ready to defend himself with some vastly improved kung fu skills and mystical powers of his own. "Kung Fu-wise, Danny's at the top of his game -- having inherited both new skills (and a serious power boost) from Orson Randall, [the previous Iron Fist and Danny Rand's mentor]. Let's not forget: this is a man who played chicken with a high-speed train--and won," Swierczynski remarked. "But wait until you see what Zhou Cheng, the servant of the Ch'i-Lin, can do. And more importantly, has done throughout the centuries."
The Servant of Ch'i-Lin appeared to have Danny Rand at his mercy at the end of "The Immortal Iron Fist" #17, but there's still hope for the current Iron Fist. Fans of the series know that five other mystically powered martial artists, collectively known as the Immortal Weapons, are currently living on Earth and are ready to come to Rand's aid. Swierczynski confirmed that the Immortal Weapons would have a role in the remaining chapters of "The Mortal Iron Fist," part two of which its stores in August.
Part three of the tale doesn't arrive until October. The story is interrupted in September by the one-shot "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California" written by Swierczynski and featuring art by Giuseppe Camuncoli. "It's an untold tale of Orson, set not long after he confronted the Lightning Lords in Nepal (and barely escaped)," the writer said. "But you don't need to know much about the Lightning Lords for this one. All you need to know is that Orson travels to 1928 Hollywood to help an old war buddy, and suddenly, is up to his neck in dames, celluloid, booze, pistachio nuts, sex cults, upside-down houses, lipstick, regret and bullets. You didn't even flinch when I mentioned pistachio nuts, did you? Hollywood in 1928 is not the Hollywood we now know. But it was just as insane, as you'll see."
Now discuss this story in CBR's Marvel Comics forum.