For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Ever since Martin Goodman entered the pulp field, the publisher had a good sense to find fads and capitalize on them, flooding the market with titles until it was time for the next big thing. By the 1970s, those lessons had become ingrained in Marvel Comics’ operations so as martial arts rose in popularity it was time to jump on the bandwagon.

The more traditional Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu arrived first, but there was room for more. Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas was watching one film in particular where an iron fist ceremony was being performed and realized it was the ideal name for a new character. He teamed with his regular collaborator Gil Kane to create Iron Fist, with the character debuting in Marvel Premiere #15, released early in 1974.

Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist

Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist


With Iron Fist’s second season coming to Netflix later this year, Marvel is offering us Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist, collecting Marvel Premiere #15-25, Iron Fist #1-15, and Marvel Team-Up #63-64.

Thomas decided this new hero would be a Caucasian to set him apart from Shang-Chi and that meant he needed a way to train him in the martial arts. Thomas told Frank Martini in Back Issue! “Well, Lost Horizon (which I’ve never read—I’ve only seen movie versions) is an indirect inspiration… [as is] Bill Everett’s Amazing-Man #5 (really the first issue), which Gil liked. Since I had only a vague idea of a Westerner who goes to the East and gains the ‘iron fist,’ [Kane] said he’d like to adapt a lot of elements of Amazing-Man, and that sounded good to me. I’d read that comic, and was always, like Gil, a big Bill Everett fan… but I didn’t remember it as well as Gil did. We didn’t look up a copy of the book…we were just going by what Gil remembered, and, of course, just taking the broad outline of that.”

Marvel Premiere #15

Marvel Premiere #15


They gave us Daniel Rand, sole survivor of his parents’ tragic trip abroad and he was rescued by the monks of hidden K’Un L’un in the Himalayas. Rand grew up a master of the fighting arts, channeling his chi to make his right fist a thing like iron, capable of shattering solid objects. As Thomas wrote: “Your hand starts to smolder and glow until it becomes like unto a thing of iron! And you strike!” The second person narration lasted throughout the stories collected here.

When he returned to civilization, he sought Ward Meachum, his father’s deceitful business partner. Meachum was hiking the mountains with Wendell, Heather, and Daniel Rand, all seeking K’Un L’un, said to appear once a decade. Meachum pushed Wendell to his death and abandoned Heather and Daniel, leaving Rand-Meachum all his. Danny watched in horror as his mother was killed by wolves, leaving him with a thirst for vengeance.

Thomas and Kane kicked things off then left the remainder of the story to Len Wein and Larry Hama to continue, with inker Dick Giordano bridging the teams. From Marvel Premiere #15 through 22, the story is revealed in flashback as Danny, now an adult, has returned to civilization, ready to confront Meachum.

One reason the story is prolonged was the new series was a typical victim of Marvel’s hectic production schedule of the era. Wein was gone, replaced by Doug Moench for three issues. By the third issue, you can see him laying down threads for the future, including the noteworthy introduction of Colleen Wing and her father Professor Lee Wing. Then, Thomas offered him Master of Kung-Fu and when Moench didn’t want to write both martial arts books, was given a choice and the rest is history.

Marvel Premiere #20

Marvel Premiere #20


Moench was replaced by Tony Isabella, before Chris Claremont settled in. In the case of Moench, Isabella, and Claremont, Danny Rand remained a man unaccustomed to civilization, Claremont told Martini, “Danny was established as a fish out of water in K’Un L’un, but because of his growing and acculturation into the philosophy of K’Un L’un, when he returns to New York, he is equally at odds because the world he’s returning to is nothing like the world he inhabited. So, he’s a fish out of water no matter where you look at it. […] And that’s the reason why Power Man and Iron Fist is such a great team-up—you couldn’t have a more yin-yang association than Danny Rand and Luke Cage.”

Isabella had agreed to initially write three issues, cleaning things up for whoever followed. He was partnered with newcomer Arvell Jones, who had martial arts training. Their first issue cemented Iron Fist in the Marvel Universe as he fought Batroc. Together, they tidied up the various plot lines even making time to introduce Misty Knight. And for the first time in the series, Iron Fist’s unmasked face is revealed.

Iron Fist #1

Iron Fist #1


Claremont stepped in and made the series his own. He got comfortable with the inherited characters and toyed with the status quo, working with artist Pat Broderick. Then came MP #25 and the arrival of Canadian artist John Byrne, in time for Colleen Wing to be kidnapped, kicking off the next major serial. By this point, it was becoming clear the character could carry his own series so the creative team leapt to Iron Fist #1 and the story ran through issue #7. Here we see the inevitable Iron Fist vs. Iron Man fight and the introduction of Fist’s first main opponent, the Steel Serpent.

“This was our first mutual big shot. It was wonderful. With John, you had a talent that is so prodigious and with a concentrated work ethics, he was so relentless—you could watch him grow from issue to issue, if not from beginning to end of an issue! If you look at Iron Fist #1 […] and then cut ahead to #14—his sense of how to stage scenes, how to present characters, how to execute actions… it was great,” Claremont recalled.

Iron Fist #8, Byrne's only cover for the series.

Iron Fist #8, Byrne’s only cover for the series.


After their story wound down, Meachum’s daughter Joy reappeared, seeking her own revenge, thinking Danny was responsible for her father’s death. Here, we see Joy sending Boomerang and the Wrecking Crew against the hero but also there are appearances of the X-Men, foreshadowing the creative team’s future. Additionally, Sabretooth debuts in issue #14, which proved to be the series’ penultimate issue. Clearly, the kung fu craze was passing and sales were dropping.

Claremont had a story to wrap up so moved the action of Marvel Team-Up where Spider-Man partnered with Iron Fist and the Daughters of the Dragon (Colleen and Misty, of course). As you know, the character was folded into the Luke Cage series and one of comics’ great partnerships developed, leading both to Netflix.

For now, you can sit back and read the development of some of the most interesting and beloved characters from Marvel’s second decade.

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  1. Tony Isabella Says:

    As I have often said when being interviewed about Misty, Chris did all the heavy lifting.