Unlike a group review, in a “Dual Review” two writers (in this case Nick and Dustin) will take a look at the issue and give a numeric score for the issue. First here’s a blurb about the issue from Marvel Comics: 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?
Iron Fist has always been a sleeper Marvel favorite of mine. A kung fu superhero who had to fight a dragon and now has cosmically-awesome fists? Sign me up yesterday.
The new Kaare Andrews series is a lot more personal than the Immortal Iron Fist series from a few years ago. This is a comic about the internal life of the Iron Fist rather than the expanding mythology of it, and that’s an excellent decision. Andrews manages to make Danny Rand’s life blasé and unfulfilling, while putting it alongside Iron Fist’s life of attacking ninjas and kung fu fighting. It’s mostly a comic book about a rich billionaire who’s a little dead inside, who only gets to come alive when he gets to turn on his super fists and kick some asses. Where I would normally write that off as white people problems, here, it works in spades.
The cliffhanger at the end of this issue isn’t really that, so much, since it’s the impetus for basically every Iron Fist story, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing by any means. It isn’t predictable in the way the story is told, so it sits just fine with me.
The one thing I will say is that I was nervous about Kaare Andrews taking this project over. He’s as close as I can come up with to a Steranko-style comic book auteur, doing the writing and the art and basically everything in the direction of the project. I also was largely unfamiliar with him except for his work on Spider-Man: Reign, which I was very “meh” on.
I can tell you without ruining anything that Andrews is set to knock Iron Fist: The Living Weapon out of the fucking park. His panel layouts are inventive and add to the narrative, his art is top-notch, and he’s playing with so many collages and effects to convey the passage of time, it’s... I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’re not reading this series, you’re missing what could well shape up to be one of the all-time great Iron Fist stories.
Long before most I was a fan of Iron Fist. Not because there was a riveting story attached to the character, but because he just looked like a bad ass dude with an awesome chest tat. Since then Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction have given me a storyline that was riveting and entertaining so that I had another reason to enjoy this character.
The problem may be the fact that they did too good of a job. They made the history too complete and explained everything so thoroughly that it didn’t leave any wiggle room for other writers. Such is the case of The Living Weapon #1 in which the artistically talented Kaare Andrews takes a stab at the character. The issue being that while the story plays nice with Brubaker/Fractions run and then the follow-up solo run from Fraction, it also doesn’t play nice with it.
Gone is the humanity of Danny Rand and left in his place is just a weapon. Rand’s personality is that of a man who goes through the motions whether it be dinner, brushing his teeth or the casual fuck with a beautiful reporter.
Where has the Danny Rand that smiled in the face of death and could be funny and serious at the drop of a hat? Why are we left with this hollowed character that only comes alive when he’s inflicting or receiving pain? Because it’s not interesting. I don’t see myself following this story in the long run and that’s a shame considering I’ve liked this character even before having a practical reason to do so.
If this was a different or even a new Immortal Weapon then this story could have been great or even better. Instead it was a completely new take on the character. Which isn’t always a bad thing, but when it rips out the heart of the character… well that’s not good. It’s like if Batman began having long-winded conversations with his villains.
Score: Nick – 5/5, Dustin 3/5 (Art)
Writer/Artist: Kaare Andrews Publisher: Marvel Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/9/14