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Danny Rand is lost — and in order for him to find himself again, it’s going to take an epic adventure that make will make him question what he knows about himself, and whether he deserves to be the Iron Fist at all.
This March, Marvel Entertainment will launch a new Iron Fist comic book series written by Ed Brisson (Image’s The Violent, Marvel’s Secret Avengers) with art from Captain America and Deathlok‘s Mike Perkins.
The series will pick up from events in the 2014-2015 Iron Fist: The Living Weapon series and sees Danny travel the world to find new meaning after the near-destruction of K’un Lun, the mythical city where he first got his powers — only to discover a mysterious island whose inhabitants seem to know all about the history of the Iron Fist, and those who’ve used it in the past.
Heat Vision spoke to Brisson about his plans for Marvel’s living weapon, and living up to the creators who have worked on the character before.
You’re inheriting Iron Fist in this strange place: K’un Lun is, essentially, no more and — given everything that he’s been through from the 2006 immortal Iron Fist series onwards — Danny’s sense of identity as Iron Fist is kind of a mess. As a writer, that’s got to be exciting, but as someone in charge of Danny, do you want to help clarify things for him, or make them even more complex and upsetting to him?
Brisson: It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been accused of being a sadist to my characters. I tend to have a habit of putting them through the wringer. As for where K’un-Lun is and how that affects Danny … That’s going to be a large part of what this first arc is about. K’un-Lun is the source of his powers and now that the city lays in ruins, Danny’s connection is severed. This affects his ability to actually be Iron Fist. His whole identity seems to be slipping away from him and he doesn’t know how to hold onto it.
Tying into that, somewhat, the portrayal of Danny has gone through significant shifts throughout his existence — he’s the naive martial arts master of Jo Duffy in the 1980s, or he’s the well-meaning, amiable almost stoner of Matt Fraction’s Defenders or David Walker’s current Power Man & Iron Fist series, or the harder edged Kaare Andrews take from the last Iron Fist: The Living Weapon series. Who is Danny to you? Is there a core Danny?
Brisson: Danny’s in a weird place. He’s questioning who he is and he’s pushing himself. He’s a person filled with self-doubt, but he’s always going to have his sense of humor about him — even if he’s using it to cover his own pain. He’s an outsider who’s always trying to fit in, trying to find a place where he belongs.
One of the things I loved about Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Immortal Iron Fist was the way in which it expanded the mythology of the Iron Fist in a way that took in the context of, for want of a better way to put it, martial arts media outside of the U.S. It feels like you’re building on that some, with the Gauntlet and the island of Liu-Shi — am I misreading your intent?
Brisson: Nope! You’re not misreading at all. What I really wanted to do was to go in and expand upon the established mythology. There’s a lot covered — or rather uncovered — in the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja run, and Kaare’s run, that provided opportunities to build upon. K’un-Lun has always had issues with infighting and corruption and everything that happens in this arc is because of that. There are threads from both series that will be followed up on. So, while there’s a newness to everything that Danny is now up against, it also feels inevitable.
You have Mike Perkins on the book, which feels like a gift: you certainly don’t have to worry about him not being able to draw whatever you write, because Perkins can do anything. What does he bring to the series in your eyes?
Brisson: I’ve been following Mike’s work since he illustrated Deathlok. He does great character work and has some serious storytelling chops. Aside from being an incredible artist, Mike is just as excited as I am to be working on Iron Fist. He’s been doing designs for the Seven Masters, who’ll feature prominently in this series, and they’re simply jaw dropping. I think that people are going to be amazed.
Iron Fist is a character with a long past in comics, and, obviously, is going to become a bigger player in mainstream pop culture with the upcoming Netflix series. Are you conscious of that legacy when writing the book? How do you deal with it?
Brisson: I’m conscious of it [but] don’t let it get into my head. Iron Fist is one of my favorite characters and the last two series have been incredible. They’ve set an intimidatingly high bar. I think about that more than I think about the show, to be honest. There’s such a legacy behind the character and I want to be sure that I do that proud. That’s not to discount the show, though. I’m very excited for it and have already blocked off a weekend to binge it when it launches.
Iron Fist launches in March.
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Tracee Ellis Ross