Marvel Premiere #15-16
Issue(s): Marvel Premiere #15, Marvel Premiere #16
This is the origin of Iron Fist.
A young Daniel Rand, along with his mother (Heather), father (Wendell), and father's business associate (Harold Meachum) travel with no guide through the Himalyas in search of a "Shangri-La" called K'un-Lun. Meachum betrays Wendell, letting him fall to his death, and after Heather rejects his 'love', he leaves the woman and child to die as well. Heather sacrifices herself to distract a pack of wolves while Danny runs for a bridge that leads to K'un-Lun.
In K'un-Lun, Danny is accepted by their leader, a hood-wearing monk named Yu-Ti, aka the August Personage In Jade.
He is trained in the martial arts by Lei Kung the Thunderer.
He distinguishes himself, earning the right to face the dragon called Shou-Lao the Undying.
Iron Fist defeats the "undying" dragon by taking its heart, gaining a duplicate of its dragon-shaped scar in the process.
He then enters the dragon's cave and finds a cauldron containing its true heart.
By plunging his hands into the cauldron repeatedly, he gains the power of the Iron Fist.
Given the choice of immortality in K'un-Lun or the ability to return to the mortal world to extract revenge from Harold Meachum, Danny chooses to leave, even after learning that the August Personage In Jade, was his father's brother (at this point that seems to be meant literally but later stories will say otherwise).
Back on Earth he fights some goons, including a guy named Scythe...
...and learns where Harold Meachum works.
When using his iron fist against Scythe, we see the phrase "like a thing of iron" for the first time. An "unto" will be added to the front of that and it will become standard way of describing Fist's power.
Iron Fist's entire series will be written with second person narration ("You are Iron Fist") which is actually a nice change of pace but it's easily parodied.
I enjoy Larry Hama's art on the second issue much better than Gil Kane's.
As Mark notes in the comments, Iron Fist was based on Golden Age character Amazing-Man, by Bill Everett (issue #15 is dedicated to Everett, "an amazing man"). Roy Thomas liked the character enough that he later created another Amazing Man for DC whose civilian name was Will Everett. The original Amazing Man did indeed set the stage for Iron Fist - he was a white orphan boy who was raised by Tibetan monks and trained in their fighting style. The character, who is in the public domain, will be incorporated into the Marvel universe much later in a 2008 Iron Fist comic (as Prince of Orphans).
Iron Fist is of course also a product of the kung fu craze that also brought us Shang-Chi. As is evidenced by the fact that it was lifted from Amazing-Man, Iron Fist's origin was already a cliche. In fact, the idea of a white guy going to the far east and bringing back some form of (imagined/embellished) Asian culture as a super-power is basically Dr. Strange's origin. But these issues are executed well enough, and despite what may have been a tacky, gimmicky beginning, Iron Fist will be surprisingly enduring as a character. That's in part thanks to this series being the place where the legendary pairing of Chris Claremont and John Byrne will begin, and in part thanks to a creative merger of this character and series with Luke Cage when their individual books get into sales trouble.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm allowing a little space between this arc and the next one, with the assumption that Iron Fist doesn't go directly to Meachum's building from here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Iron Fist vol. 1
Roy and Gil intended Iron Fist's origin to be an homage to Bill Everett's late-1930s character Amazing-Man.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 10, 2011 4:10 AM
Larry Hama had previously worked in some underground comix, but otherwise this is his first mainstream comic art.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 18, 2011 12:02 PM
FOOM#6(6/74) announced a b&w Iron Fist magazine featuring IF by Wein/Kane and a backup feature called "Dragons Two". It never happened and I'm guessing any completed stories showed up in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 10, 2013 5:43 PM
These early Iron Fist stories have such a rotating cast of creators. Basically every issue until #23 has a new writer or a new artist jumping on board. It's a shame that when they finally get a fixed creative team it's Chris Claremont who sticks as writer.
Is there any story behind why Roy never saw it past the first issue? Presumably all the others were offered better assignments but since Roy created it, you'd think he'd stick with it longer than one issue. Or at least see the origin through to the end.
Posted by: AF | February 4, 2016 9:22 PM
Iron Fist is the one true mix of the realm of Magic and a Chi related manifestation through.a Martial Arts discipline Danny carries as his Cross. Though he Needs a more functional costume upgrade, Iron Fist is a stroke of genius Marvel Studios needs to exploit.
Posted by: rocknrollguitarplayer | June 18, 2016 12:02 AM
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