Review: The Immortal Iron Fist Vol.3

The book marks the end of one of the best collaborations in the history of Marvel comics.  Together Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja have managed to take a b-list 70’s character and elevate him to greatness.

Volume 3, collects a series of stand alone tales under the title, the Book of the Iron Fist.  These stories are focused on the history of the Immortal Iron Fist, so named because the title is transfered to a new inheritor upon each Iron Fist’s death.  The first story tells the history of Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, who was the only woman to have been the Iron Fist.  Next up is Bei Bang-Wen, who used his skills to defend China from the British in 1860.

But the real highlight of this book is Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death, which is worth the cover price alone.  Orson Randall, the previous Iron Fist to Danny Rand, has appeared throughout the series as the last of the pulp adventurers, which gives the creative team tons to play with.  The issue contains four chapters from throughout Orson’s career, with the presence of the John Aman (a recently revived character that can be traced back to 1939) as the connecting thread.  But really the book is just a chance to tell a bunch of stories the likes of which are rarely seen nowadays.  Nick Dragotta & Mike Allread illustrate the first portion dealing with a stage magician, followed by legendary artist Russ Heath for a western tale, then it’s Lewis LaRosa for a brief battle with Frankenstein, and finally Mitch Breitweiser for the redemption of the Prince of Orphans.  This issue was my favorite story to be published last year and it’s an enormous shame that Matt Fraction will not be writing another like it anytime soon.

Which brings me to the final story here, which wraps up the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja run on the series and serves to hand it off to the next creative team.  It’s a great touch that Marvel decided to collect the series in such a way that the stories about the character’s history are bookended by one dealing with his future.  It’s a nice story, but a very odd note for the creative team to end on.  One which only makes sense when you read the follow-up by Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman, which thankfully has maintained both the high standard for this series so far and its pulp leanings.

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