Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 – Friday Flash Review

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Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk take a look at the first issue of a new Iron Fist series, featuring one of Marvel’s most well-known street heroes.

A promising start to what is hopefully a long running series.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

“Not recommended.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

Bane of Kings:

Story and Art: Kaare Kyle Andrews

High above the city, in a multi-million dollar penthouse, Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, “The Living Weapon,” is haunted by the consequences of choosing death over life. A message from Iron Fist’s mystical homeland of K’un-Lun brings Danny back to his blood soaked origin of betrayal and vengeance! Revenge is a weapon that cuts both ways . . . . Will Danny survive the bloodletting? A one-of-a-kind kung fu action epic directed by the inimitable Kaare Andrews!

Iron Fist is one of my personal favourite Marvel characters. Even though he may not receive the same exposure as the likes of Iron Man and the rest of the mainstream Avengers, Danny Rand is a great superhero and I have loved Fraction’s Immortal Iron Fist saga, so it really was a no brainer that I was going to pick this one up, even though I was unfamiliar with Kaare Andrews having not experienced his work before. It would certainly be an interesting experiment, especially as he was handling both artistic and writing duties.

Like the most successful All New Marvel Now titles, Iron Fist: Living Weapon is a book that readers who are entirely unfamiliar with the character can pick up and understand what’s going on.  It’s not a continuation of past events and neither is it a complete reboot – Kaare Andrews is a strong talented writer and is able to weave a compelling book that will keep readers coming back over and over again. As of right now based on this issue I can easily see it making my Top 5 All New Marvel Now titles, with Ms. Marvel, The Punisher, Daredevil and Moon Knight, because Iron Fist: Living Weapon is a book that is just that good.

Opening with an interview, Andrews provides the reader with a quick rundown of Danny Rand’s history. The book explores flashbacks and a present day storyline, with a mostly dark tone to good effect, capturing the narrative and helping create a interesting storyline with a good hook.

The fact that Kaare Andrews is doing both art and narrative, and succeeding – is something to be applauded. Very few creators can handle both duties and have them both be of equal high quality, but Andrews has certainly done that. The artwork reminds me of Francesco Francavilla and that is by no means a bad thing – because Francavilla is among my favourite comic artists. However at the same time, Andrews’ artwork is distinctively his own, and will be very interesting to watch unfold as the issues go by.

The action in this book is great, with a massive fight against ninjas being one of the highlight of the books. It stacks up on the same level as The Punisher and Moon Knight as being among the most intense All New Marvel Now books on shelves, and certainly has a high level of violence unleashed in this book, with the layouts used by Andrews really help adding to the depth of the book, a darker atmosphere enhanced by the artwork.

On the whole, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 is a success, with Kaare Andrews delivering a great issue that will have readers looking forward to more. It’s action packed, engrossing and potentially has the chance to end up as Marvel’s best series. This is one ride you’ll want to stay on board for.

Rating: 9/10

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Shadowhawk:

Iron Fist is another one of those Marvel characters that I’m not really familiar with. I read an Iron Fist graphic novel last year, but can’t really remember much about it, except that the action was pretty good and the art was fairly decent. Something written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction I think. Decent stuff, but hardly something that made me want to read more. With the launch of the new series, I thought it was a good time to try out the character, same as I did for most of my other All-New Marvel NOW! reads, such as Black Widow, All-New X-Factor, Fantastic Four, and others that I’m reading these days.

However, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 turned out to be a very dull read. It was, literally, a comic that put me to sleep. It started off interestingly enough, but then it devolved into boring cliches, with a narration and monologue that put me completely off the character rather than the opposite. I just didn’t get a good sense for who Danny Rand is, compared to that graphic novel which was much better right out of the gate, and the art didn’t help either. It was often tough to make out any details and the colour palette didn’t help either.

One word that comes to mind with this issue is that it is “bold”. Written and drawn by Kaare Kyle Andrews, this is a one-man effort all the way, excepting for the lettering which is handled by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The issue is written as if it is being told by Danny Rand himself, as a story to someone else. We start off in the past, as his parents and a business friend trek through snow-capped mountains, looking for the fabled K’un L’un monastery where they expect to find… something. But things go horribly wrong and Danny ends up having daddy issues for the rest of his life. The start is quite good in certain places and I definitely understood what Andrews was trying to do here.

But once we get back into the present, it all becomes a blur. It is like when someone is talking but you don’t want to hear what the person is saying so you just tune it all out while pretending to listen. That’s how I was when reading this issue. On my first read-through, I fell asleep after every other page and was thoroughly confused by the whole ending. Then I forced myself to be awake and read through everything, trying to actually understand what was going through. And I still had trouble.

Part of the blame I lay on the art. Everything is filtered through a red palette, perhaps echoing Danny Rand’s bloody history and bloody present, but it was not a good choice as far as I was concerned because it made things too static and too predictable even. Given all of Danny’s pontifcating about how terrible his life has been, and the overwhelming red palette, it is no stretch to imagine how the issue ends. This is, I think, definitely one of the weakest All-New Marvel NOW! #1s that I’ve read so far in the last three and a half months. I certainly would not recommend this title, not at all.

Rating: 2/10

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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