6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Leandro M. Duarte
- Published on Amazon.com
This deluxe omnibus edition contains the critically acclaimed relaunch of the Iron Fist character led by amazingly talented writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction and by spanish artist extraordinaire David Aja. It collects Immortal Iron Fist #1-16 (divided into two subsequent, related arcs: "The Last Iron Fist Story" and "The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven"), Civil War: Choosing Sides, Annual #1, Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death, and The Origin of Danny Rand.
I think there's no other way to express how I felt upon reading this book than to say that I was completely blown away. Iron Fist, a fairly unknown character of the 70's, one that many would see as being nothing beyond a gimmick inspired by the kung-fu pop influence over that decade, is gifted with one of the best comics series of the last years.
Firstly, it seems to me that, in order to enjoy this book, there is no need for deep previous knowledge of the Iron Fist character and his mythology. While the story packs a few surprises regarding the story of the Iron Fist legacy, it never punishes new readers. I, for instance, while always fascinated with the concept of the character, didn't know much more than the basic about him. Besides, the first issue shows us a glimpse of Danny Rand's (Iron Fist's not-so-secret identity) origin story, and for those willing to know more this omnibus also handily contains "The Origin of Danny Rand" story, which presents the comic that gave birth to the character.
About the story, there isn't really much I can say without spoiling a little bit of the plot. So let's just say that, as of the beginning of this series, Iron Fist is returning from a kind of self-imposed retirement: having abandoned his costume and his battles for some time in order to fight the fight of others, Danny feels it's time to carry his own burdens again, to reembrace the legacy he has left behind. This is shown in the "Choosing Sides" one-shot special, a cool story featuring Daredevil and Iron Fist published during the "Civil War" mega-crossover. This story, also present in this omnibus, is kind of the spiritual predecessor to the main series, and I really recommend reading it first. Besides, it makes more sense, chronologically speaking.
And now we come to the aspect of this book that freaked me out the most: David Aja's art. Right from the very start I realized I was in for a delightful visual journey. The beautiful flashback scene that fills the first couple of pages is followed by a wondrous double-page spread showing Iron Fist fighting against a horde of Hydra terrorists over a rooftop under the crashing rain, a scene that made me shiver in awe of Aja's artistic mastery. And that was just the beggining. Aja really took his time to craft innovative page breakdowns, and used at all times various techniques to tell the best story possible from a visual point of view. The fighting scenes (along with all others, by the way) are intense and fluid, and the characters seem to pop from the pages. What is more, Aja's general depiction of Iron Fist and his redesign of Danny Rand's costume are simply superb, and the very cover pattern design he came up with is awesomely elegant.
What brings me to the only fault I found with the series (other than the fact that it came to an end - I really wanted it to go on forever): the art inconsistency in the last issues. Probably due to Aja's attention to details and elaborate drawings, he just couldn't keep up with deadlines for some of the latter issues. That led Marvel to bring in other artists in order to help the regular artist completing them in time. That situation reached its pinnacle in issue 15, the last of the second arc of the story, where Aja's art is nowhere to be seen. Don't take me wrong: the fill-in artists are great and deliver an explosive and satisfying conclusion. But there is no denial that the series would have greatly benefited from having Aja draw its finale. Fortunately, he came back to pencil and ink the wonderful issue 16, the very last brought to life by this genious creative team of Brubaker-Fraction-Aja. But these are all minor qualms, that detract nothing from the overall experience.
Finally, a couple words about the extras: this book comes packed with a detailed encyclopedia-like entry on Iron Fist, covering all his story up until to the end of the stories contained in the omnibus, alternate covers, excerpts from the original script for the first issue, sketches from the artists, some comments by David Aja on the character designs he created or updated and a cool e-mail exchange between the creators. Very nice, but, considering the deluxe treatment of this edition, I couldn' help but feel that the publishers could have added some more extras, like an interview with the creators (something they did, for example with the Captain America Omnibus #1 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting). But, again, these are minor quibbles: there is some cool extra stuff packed here.
To sum it all up, I can't recommend this book enough. The combination of great writing and great art resulted in one artistic work that has right off the bat exerted some kind of mesmerization over me. Maybe that's because because of my real life fascination over kung fu, but I don't think that alone would be enough to grab my attention (and this book obviously has some kind of pert, crazy [but ultimately respectful] humor underlying the martial arts-related themes - don't expect to see anyone delivering burning dove chops in real life any time soon). What I truly believe is that this book has something to please everyone, be it the dynamic and intelligent script, the character development, the action, the kung-fu, the humor, the martial arts-related mysticism, the mithology, the noir tone, the gorgeous artwork etc, the psychotic AT-AT spider nightmares... Simply put, this is one of my all-time favorite comic series, one that was initially met with suspicion but that ended up becoming like unto a thing of greatness.