THE 7 CAPITAL CITIES OF HEAVEN:
First of all, an introduction to Iron Fist. As per Marvel: Orphaned billionaire Daniel Rand was raised in the mystical city of K'un-Lun and grew to become it's champion. After defeating the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying, Danny was granted extraordinary powers, enhancing his mastery of the martial arts and allowing him to achieve a superhuman level of strength, speed and fighting prowess. Now Danny - a captain of industry a hero on the run and a member of the underground New Avengers - stands between the innocent and the unstoppable hordes of evil and wicked men as THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST.
Now I'm sure a lot of you don't know who this guy is, as until recently, Iron Fist was never a mainstream superhero. He was created during the 70's in the wake of blaxploitation and kung-fu films. He was Luke Cage's partner in Heroes For Hire, and just recently joined the Avengers as part of the superhumans against Super Hero Registration. And he's the star of one of the most hailed Marvel series, The Immortal Iron Fist.
While the entire run of Ed Brubaker (Captain America) and Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man) is critically acclaimed, I wanted the maiden entry for my comic book reviews to be about their second story arc titled The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven (issues 8-14).
Danny Rand, the Iron Fist of this generation finds himself a weapon of his city K'un-Lun in a tournament between 6 other mystical cities vying for passage to Earth. The game... a kick-ass kung-fu tournament that makes Jackie Chan and Jet Li films look like amateur circus acts.
What's really interesting is that the entire tournament is less than half of the entire story, we also are thrown in the middle of a brewing war against corruption in Rand's home turf. Oh yeah, and a terrorist cell called Hydra is targeting the invisible city to turn into rubble and dust.
If I were to nominate a title that will get people to read comics, The Immortal Iron Fist will definitely be on top of that list. I believe that these characters will be myths in the future, just like the Greek, Norse and whatever gods we're so into these days. Brubaker and Fraction are weaving a great mythology for the character that makes him so interesting, and this title so hard to put down.
Where else can you find characters whose names are so cool, you'd hate your parents for naming you Michael or Jason? Fat Cobra? Bride of Nine Spiders? Dog Brother #1? Tiger's Beautiful Daughter? Steel Serpent and Prince of Orphans? If you could only see their looks and their moves, your jaw would drop to the floor just like mine did. Sumo Thunder Stomp, Whirlwind of Impending Doom, Burning Chi Thunderfoot, The Black Milk of Hell, Jawsnapper in Twilight and The Stabbing Newlywed are just some of the cool moves each player made throughout the entire run. If I wrote all of it here, I'd have no more room for the review.
This series is peppered with coolness, that each issue you're going to say 'wow' several times. Every character had a moment and the writers effectively wrote them that you'd care if something bad happens to them. Just like this line by Misty Knight (she's Danny's on-again-off-again girlfriend):
"You're all cold. You're all tired. And you've got to protect Momma Hogarth while trying not to get yourselves killed. My partner has a way with the blade. And clearly I'm unafraid of a tussle or two. Now, you might manage to bring down one of us, or maybe even both of us. But I promise you that--before we die--we will blind one of you. We will kill two of you. And three of you will never have children. Ever."
The comic book is mostly perfect, but there's only one thing that kept me from truly enjoying the entirety of this book. David Aja was not able to complete this story. I'm pretty sure not all people would appreciate the art, I know some prefer a manga style of drawing when reading comic books. But I really loved Aja's style. I don't know how you call it, but I've really warmed up to it. It has this European style which is detailed and conveys emotion effectively. And his action sequences are the bomb!!! I was wondering how he would've interpreted the scene where Iron Fist punches a train (yes, you read that right!!! That's how cool Iron Fist is). Anyway, his replacements Tonci Zonjic, Clay Mann and Kano did the best that they can, and were able to keep the art competent in Aja's absence.
There's a lot to love about this book and I'm not ashamed to profess all of it. I've got a man-crush on Iron Fist!!! There, I said it. This is the best and only kung-fu comic book in the market. I am not afraid to recommend it to non-comic book readers out there. This book won't let me down, mind you. This has got everything you need, action, suspense, great dialogue, great characterization, and a whole lot of kung-fu fighting. Definitely a classic!