Characters Appearing: Baron Von Strucker, Contemplator, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, Skeleton Ki
Marvel Comics Presents #125-132 (Iron Fist)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #125, Marvel Comics Presents #126, Marvel Comics Presents #127, Marvel Comics Presents #128, Marvel Comics Presents #129, Marvel Comics Presents #130, Marvel Comics Presents #131, Marvel Comics Presents #132 (Iron Fist story only)
Iron Fist continues to be almost like the third headliner in this book (after Ghost Rider and Wolverine). His first story was in #111, and then he was a co-star in Ghost Rider's story from #113-118. And directly after these issues another multi-issue story will begin, and more to come after that. So far his appearances here have all been written by Joey Cavalieri, but that will change with the next one.
The plot of this story, at a very high level, is broadly similar to the Iron Fist story that will begin later this year in the (adjectiveless) Spider-man book. In that story, Danny Rand discovers that someone in his company has been working with an AIM analogue (and competitor) in order to provide them with some technology. In this story, Danny Rand discovers that his company has been infiltrated by Hydra and AIM agents who are seeking some technology. I don't want to overplay it - the plots diverge very quickly from there. But at a back-of-the-napkin level they are similar enough that you could imagine two people going off with the same "napkin" and coming back with different stories. I mention all of this in the context of the fact that there was supposed to be a Jae Lee Iron Fist series that never manifested. Did someone come up with this plot for Lee's run, and then when it didn't look like Lee was going to deliver anything, the story got done here? And then Lee did finish at least enough for the pages to be used in Spider-Man, so that story ran too? Or am i just engaging in idle speculation to delay having to review yet another mediocre Marvel Comics Presents story?
In this story, the technology at Rand-Meachum is called the Anomaly.
So we don't even get to learn what it is, because no one knows. Which is great. I mean, why not just go ahead and call it the McGuffin?
The vault where the Anomaly is held is infiltrated by a thief named Skeleton Ki.
You may question the judgement of a thief that sneaks in directly in front of armed guards, but you are ignoring the fact that he has a cape!
Iron Fist is training a guy named Randy in martial arts in another part of the compound, but he rushes to the vault when he hears the alarm. He and Skeleton Ki fight.
Ki tries to slip away.
Iron Fist follows, and when they get outside, Ki is reinforced by Hydra agents.
Iron Fist knocks Ki out. One of the Hydra agents tries to escape with the Anomaly, but Iron Fist gets it back.
Iron Fist, with Randy, the head scientist, and the head guard, interrogate Skeleton Ki about the nature of the Anomaly.
But a sudden earthquake occurs, freeing Ki, and then AIM agents show up to rescue him.
They get away with Ki, but Fist retains the Anomaly. Then Misty Knight shows up, and i don't know if she or Iron Fist is acting stranger.
Fist is paranoid because Hydra and AIM have infiltrated his company.
This is set up as a kind of mystery. It could be that Iron Fist's martial arts pupil is a traitor, or it could be the scientist, or it could be the guard. Since we have no investment in these characters, it's hard to care. And Iron Fist doesn't try to solve the mystery; he just takes the Anomaly away from the Rand compound, and Whiny Misty.
He goes to his "only friend"...
...a Professor Took, who is lecturing his class about yin and yang, the good in every bad person and the bad in every good. After class, Took greets Danny and yammers on about the yin-yang some more...
...and then advises Danny to give up on the corporate world and go on a quest of self-discovery or some such.
Danny doesn't even respond but seems to take the advice. We see Took grinning sinisterly out the window afterwards. Danny offers Took's assistant, Lillian Hsu, a ride home on his motorcycle.
But then he's attacked by a mercenary sent by AIM named Warrant.
Lillian gets tossed off Danny's bike. I guess the script is trying to say that Danny is slowing down enough to let Lil down easy, but you'd never know it from the art.
Warrant then freezes Iron Fist with his Evil Eye.
But Lil, having miraculously avoided a crippling spine injury, stops Warrant with a bunch of garbage.
Iron Fist then spends an entire page kicking the helpless Warrant in the face.
Iron Fist then rides off with Warrant's bike and his Evil Eye, and with Lil.
Danny spends the night at Lil's place (on her couch). He meets Lil's brother, Doug, and then takes the Anomaly to an AIM renegade named the Mechanic. While Iron Fist is away, Hydra fakes a gas leak in Lil's neighborhood, allowing a mercenary named "Cool Million" to kidnap Lil. Cool Million then brings Lil - or maybe a blow-up doll dressed up like Lil - to the Mechanic's place to use as a hostage.
Iron Fist doesn't immediately respond (he's silently contemplating how once again friendship has screwed him over), and Cool Million doesn't seem to have much patience.
Fist is seemingly knocked out but seconds later is choking Cool Million from behind.
However, Cool Million's car is on autopilot, and it takes them to Hydra and Baron Von Strucker.
Lil's brother Doug is also a prisoner of Hydra.
Strucker's plan is to put his three prisoners in the living room.
Actually, it's a Living Room.
Some out-of-context fun while Iron Fist punches his way out of the Living Room.
Iron Fist faces down Strucker, who it turns out has an Anomaly of his own. He doesn't tell us his name for them.
Together, they open up a portal to the realm of Eyebrows McGuffin.
Iron Fist disrupts things by letting in the Living Room's babies.
In the confusion, they escape (one thing i've been neglecting is that Doug Hsu has mad basketball skills, which repeatedly comes in handy).
After they leave the Hydra compound, the Anamolies start activating on their own, and it looks like we're finally going to get an explanation on what they are.
And it turns out that they summon the Contemplator.
He's on the same weird trip as Professor Took.
He gives us a review of everything that happened, and says that Iron Fist needs to become "the superior man" because of upcoming trials.
It seems like Iron Fist gets a new costume, too, unless the colorist has just gotten out of control. But Iron Fist will be back to his old costume in future appearances. And despite all the talk of budding relationships and all the new characters that are introduced, none of them will appear again (except Skeleton Ki, and him not for years and only in a minor capacity).
This story introduced a lot of potential supporting cast characters (i didn't cover the scientist or the guard, but a little time was spent developing them as well), and leaves us with at least a minor mystery in terms of who betrayed Rand. I love that the Contemplator just tells us to forget about that, though. Maybe Cavalieri thought he was going to be continuing to write Iron Fist in some capacity - in which case introducing this large cast might have made sense - and then found out that he wouldn't be, so he wrapped things up in the final chapter. With villains like Warrant and Cool Million, though, it's no big loss.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This should probably take place before Baron Von Strucker loses a hand in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #45-47 (it's replaced with a mechanical claw, which he doesn't seem to have here).
The next Iron Fist story in Marvel Comics Presents, which begins next issue (#133), will start with Iron Fist working with Misty Knight (and Colleen Wing) with no mention of the way things were left between Danny and Misty here. And there are a number of other factors that ultimately led me to decide that it needed to get pushed back in publication time, before this entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I would give this a smidge of historical significance if this is the first appearance of Skeleton Ki, since he places a small but pivotal part in helping the Guardians of the Galaxy escape the Negative Zone prison, in DNA's classic run, but that might just be me...
Posted by: Andrew | April 5, 2017 9:05 PM
The Living Room freaked me out when I was a kid.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 6, 2017 6:17 AM
LMAO at the blow-up doll reference and Living Room "fate" bits.
That is one bad trip. I expected better from Cavalieri after his Huntress back-ups for DC, but the artistic switcheroos only help kill what passes for a plot here. Warrant and Cool Million are simply unsalvageable.
It's also an obvious setup for an ongoing Iron Fist series which would have stripped Danny of all the classic elements Byrne brought back during his Namor run. Like the things that made the character work in the first place.
I do wish we'd learned who the traitor was, though. Kinda.
Posted by: Clutch | April 6, 2017 6:25 AM
And to add to Skeleton Ki's appearances, he also frequently appears in the background of crowd scenes in the Raft prison in Jeff Parker's Thunderbolts run.
Posted by: AF | April 6, 2017 7:22 AM
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