I have never really read an Iron Fist comic. That’s not to say that I don’t know who Iron Fist is; I’ve read the comics where he was an Avenger, but that’s about it. And the less said about the Netflix show, the better. But when I heard about the new Iron Fist series, I was interested. Because this time, a new character has taken the mantle!
Before I continue my review, I think I should give you an overview of who Iron Fist is, or in this case, who Iron First was. Danny Rand is a martial artist who has the power of the mystical force known as the Iron Fist, which allows him to focus his chi, or vital energy when fighting his enemies through hand-to-hand combat. This power is obtained from the city of K’un-Lun, which opens every fifteen years. And thus, Iron Fist was born!
But this comic is about a new Iron Fist. Instead of being a white guy, Iron Fist is now an Asian man named Lin Lie, who has taken on the mantle after Danny gave up his powers, which the comic recaps. And this isn’t Lie’s first appearance, as he appeared in a series known as Warriors of Three Sovereigns in 2018. He was a former member of the team known as Agents of Atlas, and his foray into the life of a superhero began after the disappearance of his father and his brother, who left him a magic sword.
Fortunately, there isn’t any need to read up on Lie’s previous appearances to “catch up” with the character, as while the comic does make it clear that he’s not a new character, he is one for all intents and purposes in the context of the story, since he’s taken on a famous superhero mantle.
Firstly, I think the fact that there’s a new character taking up the mantle of Iron Fist instead of Danny Rand makes this comic a perfect starting point for beginners. Maybe you watched the previously mentioned Iron Fist show, and you didn’t like it, but you know people on the Internet who talk about how the character has some great comics. But I can tell you that as someone who has barely read any Iron Fist and hated the show, this is a great comic!
Now I will admit that I personally do not mind having a white character like Danny Rand take on the mantle of Iron Fist and become a martial artist. But I do feel that such a mantle would have a lot of legacy behind it, and I think it’s not only appropriate but just right to have an Asian character take up the mantle. I feel that there has been a certain problem with comics where some superheroes who are white characters tend to have powers and abilities from another culture. With a character like Iron Fist, a white character like Danny Rand and his use of a mantle with Asian roots can come off as a form of inappropriate cultural appropriation.
This was, in fact, a major criticism of the Iron Fist show, as viewers felt that the creation of Iron Fist as a white martial artist was outdated, which is why I think that there is something about having a character like Lin Lie as the Iron Fist that I can appreciate, as it serves as a proper course correction that feels right to the concept of the mantle. But I wouldn’t call it a mere course correction either, as this first issue does provide a lot of depth to Lin Lie and his new cast of characters.
Without giving away too much about the comic, especially how Lin Lie becomes Iron Fist, I do want to say that I love the writing. As mentioned earlier, he is an established character. Still, he also gets an origin story of sorts that gives us readers an idea of who he is, especially with how he may have gotten his newfound abilities. I also appreciate how it is summarized in a very concise manner. This book serves as a solid introduction to the character for most new readers, including myself. It also serves as a perfect introduction because this is a new character. Readers don’t have to worry about any sort of baggage that an established character like Danny Rand has. And while he does appear in this issue, the story is more about the new character who has taken on the mantle.
Alyssa Wong’s writing is incredible, especially with their characterization of the new Iron Fist. I feel that for longtime readers of Iron Fist, there are some exciting stories down the road with the new Iron Fist, especially with how they plant the seeds of what looks to be an interesting character arc for our protagonist. Another aspect of Wong’s writing that I appreciate is that there is a world established for Lin Lie, with his own supporting characters, which adds to my point about exciting stories down the line. When I got to the ending, I expected more because I just wanted to read more, something that I consider a hallmark of good writing in comic books.
The art of this book complements the writing very well. Michael Yg’s artwork provides a sense of fluidity in the fight scenes that involve Danny Rand and the new Iron Fist. There’s a nice consistency to the fa
ces of the characters, though there are times where Danny expresses some emotions that take me by surprise a little, but I think it adds an element of comedy, especially in his interactions with the new Iron Fist.
Yg’s artwork meshes well with Jay David Ramos, and they make a great pair. An essential part of the Iron Fist costume design is the color scheme, and Ramos establishes that green-and-yellow dynamic with the costume, and it looks so good. And finally, there’s Travis Lanham’s lettering, which is nicely readable. It looks nice and just like the other comics that he’s lettered for Marvel, which lends it a sense of consistency.So if you are looking for a new Marvel comic free of any sort of baggage that may prevent you from reading it, then Iron Fist #1 by Alyssa Wong, Michael Yg, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham is the comic for you!