Iron Fist has been around for many years. He had his own title for some time, then a very long run with Luke Cage in Power Man and Iron Fist, and has been in various and sundry books since then. He has been a member of assorted versions of Heroes for Hire, and even an Avenger for a time. Sabertooth, usually thought of as Wolverine’s archenemy and opposite number, first appeared in Iron Fist’s solo book. Iron Fist was also one of the characters in the Netflix/Marvel series, although the least popular, and has been on a few cartoons.
Danny Rand was on a trip with parents in Nepal when his father’s business partner attempted to kill them all so he could claim the company for his own. Danny and his mother survived for a time, lost in the forbidding Himalayas. At the gates of K’un-Lun, a mystical city that only appears on Earth every few years, Danny’s mother gave her life, delaying a pack of wolves so he could make it inside. Danny was taken in, trained, and eventually passed the great test of fighting Shao-Lao the Undying, and receiving the power of the Iron Fist, which let him strike with great force (some measurements have it as the power of 250 pounds of TNT) and, rarely for any hero, heal others. Danny returned to New York City, reclaimed his heritage, and became a superhero, striking up an unlikely but deep and abiding friendship with Luke Cage, then known as Power Man. The two worked together in Luke’s Hero for Hire business for years, until Danny was believed to have been killed by the unstable new superhuman known as Captain Hero.
Danny in fact had been missing for some time, replaced by a plant being as part of a plot to infiltrate K’un-Lun. Sometime later, Danny was rescued by Luke and a few other heroes, and returned to his life. Many years later, in the midst of a huge mystical battle against powerful creatures, Danny renounced the power of the Iron Fist, the only way to end the conflict and save lives. Many comic fans, myself among them, were not happy at this development.
For many years, some had complained that Danny, a white man, was part of the “White Savior” trope, an outsider who came to a foreign land, mastered their ways better than the residents themselves, and took something important from them. Marvel Comics is addressing many such concerns, and has now introduced a new Iron Fist, Lin Lie. Lie was formerly known as the Sword Master, wielder of the sword of Xu Fi. That powerful magic weapon was created to prevent the demon Chiyou, a God of War, from rising again. As Lie and White Fox fought a demon, the blade was shattered, Chiyou inched closer to freedom, and Lie was nearly killed. He survived, wound up in K’un-Lun through unexplained means, and was given the power of the Iron Fist by Shao-Lao. Lie also has fragments of his sword embedded in his hands and forearms, causing him great pain but bestowing some power on him. Lie now searches for the fragments of the blade in hopes of reforging the Sword and shoring up Chiyou’s prison. Lie and Rand have now met, and the encounter wasn’t as friendly as might have been hoped for. Rand was shocked at seeing a new Iron Fist, and Lie had no idea who Rand was, seeing him as an obstacle on the way to regaining the sword fragments. Thus set up, the tale of the new Iron Fist has begun.
What I Liked: Credit to the writer (Alyssa Wong), Danny Rand isn’t helpless without his power. He’s been a warrior for decades, and still has every bit of his skill. Lie’s story is interesting, and there’s a lot of mystery to be explored (how did he get to K’un-Lun? Why did Shao-Lao bestow his power on this stranger?). Lie is an interesting new character, and his quest could take him all over the world. The title of Iron Fist has belonged to many others before Danny, and will likely continue on after Lie’s time, so that makes sense.
What I didn’t: Maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading Iron First for many years now, but I like Danny in the role and I’m not wholly sold on the need for chance or the new incarnation. Additionally, if the goal is to “fix” the problem of the title going to an outsider, while Lie is Asian, he’s from Shanghai, not K’un-Lun, so the title has once again been bestowed on a foreigner. I’m not sure this is better.
It was an interesting new take on the character. I’ll give this debut a 3.5 out of 5, and I’ll certainly stick around for the next issue.