March is shaping up to be a one-two punch of Iron Fist, with the live-action series debuting March 17 on Netflix and then a sister comic book title March 22.
Following the events of last year's Iron Fist: The Living Weapon maxiseries, K'Un-L'Un has been shut off from the world and its would-be protector Danny Rand is marooned in the Earthly plane with his powers waning. As he continues to look for a way back to his adopted home, the discover of another fabled land of martial arts gets the attention of Rand - and the attention of that land's seven deadly kung fu masters on Iron Fist.
Newsarama spoke with Ed Brisson about the new series he and artist Mike Perkins are launching later this month, and delve into the kung fu movie roots that he is bringing back for this latest ongoing.
Newsarama: Ed, so, what’s your connection to Iron Fist in general, as a fan?
Ed Brisson: Growing up, I’d read Power Man & Iron Fist, but wouldn’t say I was a regular reader. It wasn’t until he appeared in Daredevil, donning Daredevil’s costume while Matt Murdock was on trial, that the character fully clicked for me. I liked him before that, but loved him after that.
The Matt Fraction/Ed Brubaker/Duane Swierczynski-penned run that followed ranks up there in probably my top ten runs on a comic ever. Possibly (probably) even top five.
Nrama: In this first issue, you're inheriting a K'un-Lun that's in ruins from Kaare Andrews' run. What does that offer you as a writer?
Brisson: I think that it puts Danny in an interesting position. He’s an outsider who came into K’un-Lun and became its champion, their Iron Fist. Then he left, choosing to return to his childhood home in New York, leaving K’un-Lun behind. Even though he’s been back on occasion, he’s never been back for a long stretch of time. It’s implied that he’s the savior of K’un-Lun, but he’s chosen to live in NY and now K’un-Lun lies in ruins. What does that say about Danny? How much of that is his responsibility? His cross to bear?
When we join him, his powers seem to be waning and he’s scrambling to reconnect without knowing how to reconnect. He can’t go back to K’un-Lun because they destroyed the only route back in Iron Fist Living Weapon. Is this because K’un-Lun has been destroyed? Or, is it something else? Is there a way to reignite it?
We really get into Danny’s own sense of identity. What happens when the one thing he was sure of about himself is being stripped away? How far will he go and what potentially dangerous situations will he put himself into just for a sliver of hope that it’ll allow him to hang on to the one thing that defines him?
Nrama: So while K’un-Lun is unreachable, there is a new land – Liu-Shi. What is it?
Brisson: Liu-Shi is a cluster of islands where kung fu is king. They’ve dedicated themselves to the perfection of it, drawing on other, more mystical influences. If that sounds a little familiar, that’s not coincidence.
The people of Liu-Shi are out to prove themselves. They’ve operated in near secrecy for roughly a century and are now looking for legitimacy on a larger scale. And who better to prove themselves against than kung fu master and current reigning Champion of K’un-Lun?
Liu-Shi is more than it presents itself as and we’re going to spend a large part of the first arc peeling that back to discover who and what they really are and what their agenda really is.
Nrama: Danny Rand is known to have a good circle of friends and allies, from Luke Cage to the Daughters of the Dragon and even the Immortal Weapons. Who else is in this series with Iron Fist?
Brisson: This first arc is primarily all fresh faces. Some who will become and remain enemies and some who will become lifelong allies.
Nrama: So who is he up against?
Brisson: Liu-Shi has divided itself into seven segments, each with its own school of kung fu that is represented by a chosen Master. The Seven Masters of Liu-Shi are: The Eel of Blessed Waters, The Rat of Twelve Plagues, The Resourceful Snake, The Rabbit of Holy Flame, The Long-Armed Bull, The Mountain Slaying Bear and The Divine Wolf. Why seven? Well…there’s a reason for that, but you’re going to have to read to find out.
Some of the Seven have very personal vendettas against Danny and/or K’un-Lun. What those are, well that’s something that will be revealed over the series.
I will say that the timing of Liu-Shi suddenly inserting themselves into Danny’s life is not coincidental.
Mike Perkins did an amazing job in designing these characters - there are a lot of nods to both Iron Fist history and 70s kung fu flicks (of which I’m a huge fan). I think that readers are going to get a kick out of the new characters.
Nrama: Will this tie into the final issues of Power Man & Iron Fist or the Iron Fists title announced last year?
Brisson: All three are separate titles that will operate in their own space. There were some things that were off the table for me because they’re going to be dealt with in Iron Fists, but it was fairly easy to navigate around that.
Nrama: And what’s it like working in the shadow of the Netflix TV show, which will be out before Iron Fist #1?
Brisson: Interestingly, I haven’t really thought too much about it. I’m obviously acutely aware the show is coming and am excited for it myself. That said, I see the comic and the show being two very different things and it hasn’t impacted how I approach the comic in any way. There haven’t been any notes from Marvel that I have to or can’t do things in the book because of what’s happening in the show.
Nrama: Okay then, big picture: what are your goals for Iron Fist?
Brisson: I want to delve in and explore his mythology more. I think that in both Iron Fist: Living Weapon and The Immortal Iron Fist, there were a lot of threads that can be followed up on and explored. I’m looking to explore those without isolating new readers. It’s a fine line to walk, but I think that we’re doing a pretty good job of it so far (if I can be so bold!).
Beyond that, I think that we need to explore what’s going to happen with K’un-Lun. Will they rebuild? Are they done for? How will Danny play a role in that future?
Moving on from there, I really want to bring in a lot of the supporting cast in future issues. I love the Immortal Weapons and want to see them play a part in the future of the series. There are a lot of past Iron Fist baddies who I’m itching to bring in as well.
The big hope is that Mike Perkins and I can keep at this for a good, long run. Aside from being talented as hell, he’s an enthusiastic collaborator who is a lot of fun to work with.