- Written by: Alyssa Wong
- Art by: Michael Yg
- Colors by: Jay David Ramos
- Letters by: VC’s Travis Lanham
- Cover art by: Jim Cheung, Jay David Ramos
- Cover price: $3.99
- Release date: February 16, 2022
Iron Fist #1 introduces the world to a new Iron Fist after Danny Rand unceremoniously gave up his powers in his last adventure. Who is the mysterious new Iron Fist? Where did he come from? How did he get his power?
Was It Good?
Iron Fist #1 is okay. Just okay, and that’s not a good thing.
If anyone remotely cares about the Iron Fist character, the first thing you’d be looking for is answers to questions about why Danny Rand so casually gave up the Iron Fist power, who is the identity of this new Iron Fist, and how did this new Iron Fist get his power when the reborn dragon, Shou-Lao, hasn’t hatched from its egg. To Wong’s credit, almost all the questions are answered. Whether you like the answers or not is up to you.
If you hadn’t already guessed by now, the “new” Iron Fist is Lin Lie aka Sword Master. Betting odds put the secret identity as either Lin Lie of Shang Chi, so this isn’t much of a surprise. What is a surprise is how Lin Lie came to be the “new” Iron Fist because he doesn’t acquire the mantle through any traditional means.
Lin Lie acquires Iron Fist like powers when his mystical sword is splintered in battle and pieces of the sword become embedded in his hands, resulting in power accompanied by tremendous pain. If you’re immediate reaction is to think “that’s not how becoming the Iron Fist works”, you’d be absolutely correct. Wong throws in convenient mystical mumbo jumbo to explain how it all works, but again, whether you like the explanation or not is up to you.
The quest is set up with a lot of exposition dialog around a dinner table (yes, of course there’s lots of food scenes and food references) where we learn Lin Lie is on a mission to find all the missing pieces of the sword and reforge it to trap a demonic identity that was let loose when the sword was first claimed by Lin Lie’s father.
Why is Lin Lie dressed up as Iron Fist if he’s not actually the Iron Fist? It’s not clear and never explained why, after he’s already established himself as Sword Master, he suddenly adopts the Iron Fist persona. The opening scene shows Lin Lie as Iron Fist running into Danny Rand fending off a demon, and he ignores an opportunity to talk to an actual (former) Iron Fist and runs away from the chance.
What is Danny Rand up to? Oh, nothing. He’s just chillin’ fighting demons with his superior martial arts skills.
Is this an “improvement” over the traditional Danny Rand/Iron Fist? No, not at all. The art is good and Lin Lie seems to be a nice enough guy, but all the recent tropes fall into place heavily in this issue. Everybody LOVES Lin Lie, including his friends back at K’un-Lun. The dramatic tension created through Danny as a “fish out of water” story is completely gone. What you’re left with is a nice guy, loved by everyone, with unearned powers and a basic quest.
If the goal was to, as some have posited, replace Danny with a culturally appropriate character to right an imagined wrong, the creators did just that. The consequence is a “new” Iron Fist who isn’t really an Iron Fist and an origin story lacking in drama, tension, uniqueness, or engagement. In short, Marvel fixed a problem that didn’t exist and changed a character into a bland, boring, stand-in.
On the plus side, the art is very good. So, there’s that.
Bits and Pieces
Iron Fist #1 takes all the gravity and drama surrounding Danny Rand’s “fish out of water” story and replaces it with a cardboard cutout character who everybody loves. His powers are unearned, he dresses like Iron Fist because he can, and the strong art only serves to dress up a bland, boring, homogeneous, replacement hero.
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