Thursday, February 14, 2008
Fair Trade: The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story
For whatever reason, ever since I decided to do a Google search one day last year for "Comic Book Blog," and had my eyes opened to the inane "blogosphere" which seemingly popped up all around me without my notice, it has come to my attention that I, evidently, like a lot of comics which suck. And, similarly, that I dislike some of the best comics being published today. I don't know quite why that is, but it is. But that's okay. I don't mind too much, really, because I read what I like and don't read what I don't like.
Take this title, The Immortal Iron Fist, for instance. Now I never really liked Iron Fist as a character all that much until I started collecting Power Man And Iron Fist. From there, the guy started to grow on me, with his naive worldview and the nice contrast between him and Luke. So I was happy to see him popping up a bit more in the last few years, and when Marvel announced a new ongoing series starring "The Living Weapon," I figured I would try it out. And, uh, needless to say I was underwhelmed by the whole thing.
For one thing, the fun, chop-socky hero I was familiar with was gone, replaced with a brooding, moody loner who has all the personality of a mid-boss in a versus-fighting game. The art was flat and lifeless, to the point that even a pitched rooftop battle with a HYDRA battalion -- which should have been a kinetic setpiece -- is an inanimate, cold mural. And the whole affair seemed to be informed more by modern, ultra-violent "serious" kung fu films mixed liberally with smart-mouth dialogue and "attitude" than the Shaw Brothers stuff. I ended up dropping the title after the second draggy issue, and didn't look back. That is, until I found the trade paperback on sale one day at Barnes & Nobles, and thought to myself, 'Hey, you know, everyone else online really raves about this title, maybe it's better in the trade.' So I bought it, hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
Now, I know what the roar echoing throughout the halls of the Bunker is right now (that is, if I had any readers): You're just pining for nostalgia, you're too close-minded to appreciate what Brubaker and Fraction are doing, you just want everything to stay the way it was when you were a kid. And in most cases I won't deny those accusations, because, honestly, yeah, I like older comics more than the majority of new stuff these days. But in this case, I don't think that's a fair assessment. The are some elements of this book that are good. Brubaker and Fraction seem to have a good handle on what they are doing, and I actually really liked the world-building stuff from the end of the volume. And the costume designs for Danny and the other historical characters that Aja put together are very cool. But if I had to try to put my finger on the reason why I don't like this series, I think it would have to be that I don't like Daredevil.
See, this isn't a series about Iron Fist. It's a series about Iron Fist acting like Daredevil, sneaking around on rooftops at night and getting the crap beat out of him and having his personal life be a mess and having daddy issues. Iron fist isn't Daredevil, despite what went down in Civil War. And again, my idea of what Iron Fist "is" is formed based on what kind of Iron Fist stories I like to read. If you took this series, and photostatted Shang Chi, Master of Kung-Fu into it's pages (maybe replacing Luke Cage with Bob Diamond?), I'd be right there in line ranting about it. But to have Iron Fist behaving this way just doesn't click right in my mind.
I really wanted to like this title, because I think that Iron Fist is a cool character who deserves to have a little bit of attention. So, in that sense I am glad the series is proving to be a decent seller and have a good deal of fans. But, unfortunately, I cannot number myself amongst them.