On March 17th, a new world is coming to the Netflix corner of the Marvel Universe: The magical city of K’un Lun. Yes, the middle of March will see the release of all 13 episode of The House of Ideas’ newest Netflix offering, Marvel’s Iron Fist. This is the “Final Defender” we’ve been waiting for. The wait’s almost over but we still have a few weeks to prepare. “Prepare for what?”, you might ask. Out of every hero we’ve seen come to the streaming service thus far, Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist) is probably the most convoluted when it comes to back story. So consider this your crash course on the martial arts master from a magical city that only appears once every ten years. From his revenge filled origins to his current status in the Marvel Universe, all will be covered. We probably won’t dwell on his “resurrection” in the pages of Namor, but we’ll fill you in on all the good stuff. Come along for the ride to find out more about the man named Danny Rand who can make his fist like that of iron.
When Iron Fist first debuted in Marvel Premiere, he spent several issues being handled by various creative teams. Out of the 11 issues that featured Iron Fist, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Doug Moench, and Tony Isabella each got a shot at writing about Danny Rand and his quest for revenge. It wouldn’t be until Chris Claremont came to the book that we would see a writer stay with the character for a substantial amount of time. 2 issues after that, Claremont would be joined by artist John Byrne. The two would work a lot together during the 70s, most notably on Marvel’s Merry Mutants, the X-Men. But it was this team that would take Iron Fist from a strange exploitation character in his separate corner of New York to a superhero firmly planted in the Marvel Universe.
After 1 issue together on Premiere, Claremont and Byrne spun Iron Fist out into his own series. Iron Fist #1 had excitement and intrigue turned up to 11 with Danny Rand’s close friend Colleen Wing kidnapped, her father in a coma and the immortal weapon being tricked into a fight against Iron Man. This Iron vs. Iron showdown (caused by a series of misunderstandings) was a strong kickoff to the series. Issue 1 also began the fleshing out of the Misty Knight character.
With only one appearance and a few mentions in the Marvel Premiere issues, not much was known about Misty with the exception that she was the partner of Colleen Wing as the co-runner of Knightwing Restorations Inc., a private investigation firm. In this series, we learned more about her past, her bionic arm and her connections to the Bushmaster, a crime lord that would end up playing a big part of Iron Fist’s eventual meeting with a certain man with unbreakable skin (Hey, I’m talking about Luke Cage…..we can dig it!). The series also developed the long standing romantic relationship between Danny and Misty that would remain a part of the Iron Fist mythos for decades.
Another great part of the Claremont/Byrne run on Iron Fist was the introduction of one of Danny’s greatest adversaries: The Steel Serpent. Seeking revenge for a gripe against Danny’s father, Wendell Rand, The Steel Serpent allied himself with Joy and Ward Meachum, the daughter and brother of the deceased Harold Meachum (a.k.a. the guy who killed Danny’s dad), to gain information on Iron Fist. During this time he acted as the bodyguard and confidant of Joy Meachum. What made him so compelling was that not only were his powers similar to the Iron Fist’s, but he also had extensive knowledge of K’un Lun, the mystical city where Danny was raised. These factors made him the perfect antagonist for Iron Fist because it was questionable from the start as to whether Danny could actually beat this guy. In fact, he didn’t beat him at all on their first few interactions. In fact, the Steel Serpent almost drained Danny of the power of Shou Lao, stealing a portion of his chi from him. He was a worthy adversary, something that was lacking in an Iron Fist story until that point.
But the Steel Serpent wasn’t the only villain created during this run that would have a lasting impression. Another famous bad guy was introduced in Iron Fist #14 that would go onto to fame….but not as an Iron Fist adversary. Future Wolverine dance partner Sabretooth would make his first appearance in the pages of Iron Fist as a mercenary hired to kidnap Danny Rand’s lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth. This would lead to an altercation between Iron Fist and Sabretooth where Danny would be blinded and have to use his other senses to beat his larger foe. Decades before Danny would have to impersonate Daredevil, he would steal a page from his playbook to win a fight.
The lasting effect of this 15 issue series for Iron Fist is that it put him right in the thick of the Marvel universe. Aside from the initial altercation with Iron Man, Danny would end up facing off against the likes Boomerang, The Wrecking Crew, and even the X-Men. The Wrecking Crew altercation is the stand out story here as they would capture Misty Knight and force Danny to break into Avengers’ Mansion. Once inside, Iron Fist would come face to face with Captain America. Of course, as these stories go, there would be a misunderstanding and the two heroes would duke it out. It would take Danny putting himself in danger from falling debris to finally get Cap to stop fighting him and save him instead. This would give Danny the opening to explain the situation to Cap and the two would end up working together to take down the Wrecking Crew as a team.
The series only went to 15 issues and ended with a goofy “misunderstanding” fight between Danny and the X-Men. During the run of the series, Misty Knight was sharing an apartment with Jean Grey. At this time, Jean was a little unstable due to being the host for the Phoenix force….possessing a god-like power will do that to you, I hear. Jean and Misty also had a problem with their landlord, who was trying to evict them for the ruckus a few X-Men battles had previously caused.
In the final issue, Danny would be over for a house party happening later that evening. Mistaking him for an intruder, Wolverine would start a brawl that would get nearly the entire All New, All Different X-Men involved. It would take Jean stepping in to calm everyone down…..again, having god-like powers will do that. Danny would end up talking to the landlord and Jean and Misty would keep the apartment.
While the series came to an end, it wouldn’t be the last time that Chris Claremont and John Byrne would work on Iron Fist. Find out more about their further involvement with the character next week with the next installment of our Countdown to Marvel’s Iron Fist.
Marvel’s Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17th.
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