The Immortal Iron Fist of K’un-Lun himself, Danny Rand, is back with a new limited series in this week’s Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1, and the stakes have never been higher. (But what else is new…)
Heart of the Dragon starts innocently enough. When Danny travels with his companion Fooh to test out a new gate that serves all seven of the Heavenly Cities, their plans are quickly thrown for a loop when an unexpected threat puts the fate of Heaven itself in grave danger. With the dragons and protectors of the other cities falling in quick succession, it’s up to Danny to save the day.
In many ways, Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 is exactly what you would expect from a modern Iron Fist comic. There’s lots of punching, lots of talk about dragons, lots of mysticism … so YMMV there on how that works for you. I’m personally not a huge fan of the character myself, but I think there’s enough to enjoy here that makes it worth your time either way.
Veteran creator Larry Hama, a legend in his own right (who actually penciled some of the earliest Iron Fist stories), obviously has great affection for Danny, wisely presenting him as a family man first and a fighter second. Before he leaves with Fooh, he entrusts his young ward Pei to the care of his longtime bestie Luke Cage, suggesting that this is a somewhat common occurrence for them. It’s a brief sequence, but it does just enough groundwork to establish that Danny is a responsible figure and is thus the person to assume the tough responsibility thrust on him later. It also gives us a glimpse into his personal life, which could’ve easily been ignored or forgotten for the purposes of the plot (but for those who this matters to, they come back later in the issue, and they do get to kick some butt).
Artist David Wachter has experience with this sort of material (his credits include TMNT, the foremost martial arts-based media), and I think his visuals really serve Hama’s story. A character like Iron Fist requires strong visual storytelling in their comics because their skillset is so based in physicality. When dealing with Iron Fist as well, however, you can’t go wrong with a little bit of whimsy. The world of Iron Fist is inherently silly, what with dragons and such floating about (case-in-point: Pei’s adorable dragon Gork, who behaves very much like a puppy). The action of Heart of the Dragon is clean and appealing, with the panel layouts themselves working in tandem with Wachter’s drawings to convey a sense of motion and dynamism through slanted windows and objects occasionally breaking into gutters. Similarly, letterer Travis Lanham adds some fun textual flourishes throughout, with artful noise effects and one particularly creative use of a word balloon dotted with hearts to convey Pei’s affection for Danny. It’s an overall impressive-looking package that makes this #1 worth giving a look.