I must admit that I'd only ever come across Iron Fist as a guest character in old comic books. I kinda got the message that he was a kung fu master and if he had any super-powers he never seemed to use them. Not really a character that would tempt me to buy a collection of his recent solo material. But then, through reviews and word of mouth, I heard whisperings that Immortal Iron Fist was a seriously good read, so I thought I'd try it out. I'm glad I did.
Immortal Iron Fist is a very nicely characterised and very very nicely drawn story. Although Danny Rand (Iron Fist) is drawn from the Batman/Iron Man template as a millionaire businessman with superhero aspirations, the characterization by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction makes him a more likeable lead character than his better known counterparts. Unlike Bruce Wayne's see-sawing jet-setter/grim detective persona or Tony Stark's alpha-male businessman, Rand is written consistantly as somewhat bumbling and ditzy but with a strong moral drive, making him a likeable, personable lead. The supporting cast, particularly the always welcome presence of fellow '70s dude Luke Cage, is also used to great effect.
In addition to strong writing, the artwork by David Aja is fantastic. Staying just on the sketchy side of photorealism, Aja has a very adept use of shadow and a real artist's grasp of anatomy, giving the story a dark and realistic feeling depsite the enjoyably silly subject matter.
The story presented here is nothing special but, like The Ultimates, it's really an excuse to enjoy spending time with the characters. To be honest, I think I could happily buy a book consisting of Iron Fist and Power Man chatting over coffee if Matt Fraction would do the dialogue and David Aja would draw it.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a good old fashioned kung fu superhero yarn brought up to date in a very satisfying manner.