The Immortal Iron Fist Volume 2: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, collecting The Immortal Iron Fist #8-14 & The Iron Fist Annual.
Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction,
Pencils by David Aja, Kano, Tonci Zonjic. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
Last time, Danny Rand made some poor business choices, based on gut instinct. Because of this, Iron Fist had to fight an unending army of HYDRA minions. He lost. Then, he met the mysterious Orson Randall, who it transpires was the Iron Fist directly before Danny. He gave Danny some homework to do, and now Danny is more powerful than ever... which is a good thing, because The Convergence is here, and now Danny has to travel to K'un-Lun and fight a bunch of other Immortal Weapons. Yup, strap in folks, it's time for a Tournament Arc!
Issue 8: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 1: Danny is home! He may not have been born here, but there's no city on Earth where Danny feels more at home, than K'un-Lun... And now, he must step up and fight for his home's honour, in a great tournament against the other Immortal Weapons! Then, many years ago, Wendell Rand leaves his adopted father's care, to begin his training in K'un-Lun. Man, they pack a lot into these issues.
Issue 9: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 2. The Iron Fist's first fight is here! Against the absolute UNIT, and clearly the best Immortal Weapon: Fat Cobra... But can Danny win this fight? And more important... does he WANT to? Because there's something going on in K'un-Lun, and something as simple as a celestial tournament between super powered Immortal Weapons may seem trivial, in comparison! Meanwhile, back in the day, Wendell Rand begins his training in K'un-Lun and makes a new friend: Davos, the Steel Serpent. Oh no...
Issue 10: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 3. It's clearly the season for tournaments! While Danny recovers from the absolute thrashing Fat Cobra gave him, his father fights for the honour of facing Shou-Lao! But to do so, he must face his best, and only, friend... Meanwhile, in the present day, Bride of Nine Spiders, who is just as creepy as she sounds, faces off against Dog Brother #1. But while everyone is distracted by their battle, revolution is brewing in the Celestial City, and HYDRA begin their evil HYDRA stuff. Seriously, why are they ALWAYS up to something?
Issue 11: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 4. Danny's attempts to return to K'un-Lun before anyone notices he's missing hit a very HYDRA shaped roadblock. Thankfully, he has some friends on hand that just might be able to lend a hand! In the Heart of Heaven, Davos fights Tiger's Beautiful Daughter, while thinking back on the time he got utterly ruined trying to fight Shou-Lao. What a punk that man is...
Issue 12: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 5. Wendell Rand gets his chance to claim the Iron Fist. But he realises that there is a more important enemy for him to confront first. Meanwhile, in the Heart of Heaven, The Prince of Orphans faces off against Davos, and Danny prepares for the greatest fight he's faced yet! In the K'un-Lun mountains, the Heroes for Hire find themselves in a tricky situation, as Xao's plan is revealed.
Issue 13: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 6. Everything explodes into utter, unmanageable, glorious chaos. The revolution begins, Yu-Ti makes his move and the Thunderer goes to see his son, meanwhile Danny moves his army into place and the Heroes for Hire try desperately not to get blown up. Wendell confronts Orson, but finds that the reality of revenge is often rather different, to what we picture in our heads.
Issue 14: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven - Round 7. The Immortal Weapons face off, against the armies of Xao and HYDRA. Danny tries to punch a train. Davos picks a side. The Heroes For Hire save the day! It's all really rather epic... And then, just to be a dick, Xao lets Danny in on a rather important secret. In both past and present, K'un-Lun is at peace and the Immortal Iron Fist's path is secured... but for how long?
Iron Fist Annual 1: taking place between issues 9 and 10, Danny Rand has done a runner from all his drama, and headed off to France. While there, he tracks down an old friend of Orson Randall, and learns all about the adventurous past of his sort of, but not quite, Grandfather.
Well, that was quite a ride, wasn't it? I mean, they really packed a LOT into those issues. Was quite the jump up, from Volume 1. We had a mystical tournament between 7 Immortal Masters of Martial Arts, we had some political intrigue, and then a super pulpy, slightly camp history lesson. That was a lot, right? It's not just me, that felt like a LOT.
ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE! Yup, it's that old faithful anime filler, with an interesting new twist! It's time for a Tournament Arc! Danny must fight for the honour of K'un-Lun, against a host of bizarre, but awesome fighters, all of whom have power levels similar to his own. But the real question here is: How do you fight for the honor of a city, when the city itself has no honour?
Going into this arc, I expected the standard fare: Lots of fights, VERY little story, some cool new characters with wacky powers, some evil villains, a stumble in the semi-finals, and then inevitable victory.
I was NOT expecting Danny to get the taste smacked out of his mouth by a turbo-charged Sumo Wrestler in the first round, and for the real story to be told behind the scene, with the occasional fight thrown in to break up the political machinations.
It's quite refreshing, actually. I was honestly expecting Danny to struggle a bit, and then find some way to keep winning, to show off the powers that he gained from his training with Orson. I figured this would be a story light arc, with some cool action and MAYBE some hints of a greater plot going on, that would be delved into in more detail at a later date.
Instead, Immortal Iron Fist's second arc is a deep, complex, and overall emotional tale of revolution; both personal and political.
I love the way the present day story of K'un-Lun and the tournament, and the flashback story of Wendell Rand, both mirror each other. Each one is a story of a child, desperate to move out of the legacy of their forefathers and become who they think they need to be... but each is held back in some way they must overcome. And then in the middle of it all is Danny Rand, central in so many ways, but simultaneously and forever the outsider.
As we see Wendell Rand struggle to overcome his doubts, fueled in his mind by the words of Orson Randall, we see his son in the present day attempting to fend off an attack from Xao, who seems to destroy K'un-Lun, using technology from Rand Corp, and a secret passage developed by Orson Randall's father.
Reading through this whole grand clusterfuck of an arc, it feels like everyone is struggling to live up to what they think their elders wish them to be. Meanwhile, we take a trip back to see those Elders, and see that they are still struggling with what they think THEIR Elder's wish.
And then Danny punches a train, and everything blows up.
Everyone in this whole volume is fighting a pitched way between who they want to be, and what they think their elders want for them. And then there's Danny. Orson Randall is The Iron Fist, but doesn't want to be. Wendell Rand wants to be, but can't shake the fact that Orson says he's can't be. Davos the Steel buttwipe thinks it's OWED to him, but when he tries, he fails, because he just doesn't have what it takes. And then, there's Danny. It's funny, everyone in this whole book won't shut up about what they want and what others want for them, and how those two things are invariably different. And then, there's Danny. At no point during this arc, does Danny say what he wants. He enters the tournament because he feels duty bound to do so. He loses the tournament because that's the price for the information he needs. He uncovers and foils a plot to destroy K'un-Lun because that's his duty.
At no point, in this entire run, does Danny do what he wants to do.
And THAT, you wonderful people, is why Danny is the only person worthy of The Iron Fist. Because he's not doing this because he wants to, he's doing this because he feels like he HAS too, because it's the right thing to do. Everyone is fighting their own selfish battles, and Danny is just trying to keep everyone safe. And then, he punches a train. It's AWESOME.
But, of course, there's always a sting in the tail. Trains are punched, lives are saved... but the villain always has to get the last word. And this time, those last words are "There is an eighth city, Daniel Rand.".
Yyyuuuuppppp. We just met the SEVEN Capital Cities, and their Immortal Weapons, but Xao lets us know that there is, in fact, an EIGHTH City. I'm sure it's a totally chill place, just like Asgard's 11th Realm. No way this ends badly for everyone...
Speaking of ending badly, the final tale of this volume is Iron Fist Annual 1. Set between rounds of the tournament, this issue is split between a present day tale of Danny going to see Orson's old friend and autobiographer Lucky Pierre, real name Ernst Erskine, who tells him a selection of grand tales from Orson's wild youth as The Iron Fist.
It's quite bizarre. It took a moment for me to place exactly why it felt so strange, but then it hit me. Places squarely in the middle of this very esoteric, eastern influenced tale of the misuse of power and family legacy, Iron Fist Annual feels like one of those trashy '50s pulp detective serials. It was like someone dropped a forgotten Dick Tracy series into the middle of an Iron Fist book. It's a really fun, light jaunt through some retro slightly camp adventure, and the art in the flashback tales is great, but I just can't help but feel like it's all slightly out of place. I'd have loved a whole volume of these insane pulp flashbacks, really dig into Orson's history, give us some rip roaring adventures with men in hats and women in cocktail dresses saving the day... just not now. Not here.
Overall, The Immortal Iron Fist Volume 2 is a HUGE step up from Volume 1. Delivering a complex, weighty tale that is far more than you expect it to be, going in. Brubaker and Fraction really take everything they did last time and dial it up to 11, giving us more action, more adventure, and more Heroes for Hire, crafting a tale of rebellion and the weight of legacy, and how we can't let those that came before us decide the path that lies ahead. Also, HYDRA suck. But we knew that already. Combine this grand tale with Aja's continually fantastic art, blending steampunk technology with Asian inspired architecture and increasingly more and more fantastical elements, and you end up with a volume that is a feast for the eyes, while it melts your brain right out of your ears. And it's only going to get bigger and more crazy from here on out!
If you want to see how crazy it gets, come back next time for The Immortal Iron Fist Volume 3: The Book of Iron Fist! Collecting The Immortal Iron Fist #15-16, Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death & The Origin of Danny Rand. Danny Rand is The Iron Fist, but Danny Rand is not the only Iron Fist! It is the story of The Immortal Iron Fists and the timeless chain that binds them together in honor.
If you want to read along, you can find this volume on Comixology, collected volumes on Amazon, or from your Local Comic Shop! Enjoy!
Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.