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Immortal Iron Fist #12

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction
David Aja, Kano, Javier Pulido
Marvel Comics
“The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven” (round 5)

Plot: Things go from bad to worse for Nightwing Restorations, as Danny has left them in the lurch against Hydra. There’s another round of the ceremonial battle for Danny to attend, and best of all, another Wendell Rand story. It’s like Harrison Ford suddenly joined the cast of this comic - that’s how cool Wendell is.

Comments: Is this a perfect comic? How could that be? It’s Iron Fist, for one, and it’s co-written by two authors and drawn by three different guys. This is not Alan Moore material, you may say. But I literally haven’t had a bigger thrill reading a comic in months. This series really has it all at this point, and I can’t wait every month to see what will be added to the mix next.

What are these virtues? Well, the back-story deepens with each issue. Danny Rand and K’un L’un have never made more sense. The oddness of the mystical city stays odd even as we learn more about it than we’ve ever known, because nothing Fraction/Brubaker add really contradicts what has gone before. It’s more like an expansion of the basic concepts. Of course the eternal city that depends on the whims of a captive dragon has had previous champions. Of course it’s only one of seven mystical cities, the most Spartan and severe one, while the rest each have their own characters of conception and corruption.

And in the midst of fleshing out Danny’s regular supporting cast (Misty, Colleen and Luke are fine as is, already serviceable; but Davos has seldom seemed as human in his numerous flaws, and the August Personage and the Thunderer are revealing their inner selves, as well, in the best way they can: through their actions), the formulaic (or, better put, the formally executed and ceremonial, if no less lethal for it) battles progress as well. Round 5 is a systematic upbraiding, as the Prince of Orphans teaches “Steel Phoenix” (such a ridiculous self-nomenclature) that his brutal beating of the Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter in Round 4 was unwarranted and unacceptable.

Two simply brilliant things happen this issue, one major, and one subtle, but profound. The Thunderer has come up with a clever response to the corruption of the current Jade Master: He’s broken a basic (and really sort of silly) rule of K’un L’un, and trained an army of female warriors. With this simple, irrevocable decision, the writers acknowledge the pulpy origins of this title (not to mention the influence of the Buffy mythos) and move beyond them to the present day.

The other is revealed in a scene when Danny is asked by his fellow champions to approach the fierce Prince of Orphans, and makes an attempt with awkward humility and respect. He’s rebuffed, but a later reveal shows the depth of Danny’s character, and the reason a young, blonde white rich kid is deserving of the attention of Shou-Lao the Dragon. While Danny seems to be the wide-eyed eternal student, he’s in reality very much a master, one who has trained all his life to bridge his two legacies. He’s a hero in a long line of heroes, living in a mystical world as paradoxically intent on destroying them as it is on making them.

This title is currently without equal. The imaginative scope is breathtaking!



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