Iron Fist #78
Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Damian Couceiro and Andy Troy
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Danny Rand experiences a blast from his weird and violent past in Iron Fist #78, a Damnation tie-in which finds the Living Weapon fighting through a Ghost Rider’s horrific Penance Stare. As far as tie-in plots go, writer Ed Brisson plays it pretty safe, but it’s his attention to detail when it comes to Danny’s past and the key players he chooses to bring back into the fold that gives #78 a real leg up. Given a Dave Johnson-like physicality by penciler Damian Couceiro and rich, heavy colors by colorist Andy Troy, Iron Fist #78 keeps Danny’s solo adventures, and his inexplicable involvement in this crossover, on the rails.
Instantly immersing us in Danny’s past, writer Ed Brisson takes us through a hellish walking tour of some of Iron Fist’s greatest losses. Right away we are knee-deep in the Himalayan snow as Danny watches his parents die helplessly, once again. From there we move to the more obscure highlights of Iron Fist’s career narrative: Harold Meachum and his secret sister Miranda. Brisson has done a great job throughout Iron Fist of getting to the core of Danny’s character, and this issue’s exploration of his greatest “defeats” allows him more quality time with Danny’s life and the formative moments in it.
As a reader, this attention to Danny’s past shows me that Brisson has really done his homework with the character, which is a welcome sight for a hero that has been around as long as Iron Fist has. But it also shows that Brisson is working to give Iron Fist a life all its own during and beyond the Damnation crossover, setting up the title overall to go some interesting places once this whole magic mess in Las Vegas gets wrapped up. (And that’s not even including the very special guest star at the end of the book.) It's the best of both worlds, for Iron Fist #78 and a fun read to boot.
Heavily aiding in that fun is the art team of Damian Couceiro and Andy Troy, both of whom give Iron Fist #78 a tactile and propulsive look with blocky pencils and stony, earth toned colors.
Though the issue’s script keeps bouncing from one setting to another, Couceiro’s angular, Mike Mignola-by-way-of-Phil Hester pencils keep pace with the script, using Danny and his ever-changing costume as a focal point along with Troy’s mercurial colors. By using Danny and his costume as a visual anchor, it allows the ever-shifting dreamy structure of the scenes to feel more solid - that is, until the real nightmare starts, and we are back in demonized Las Vegas.
It's here where Couceiro and Troy’s visuals really gel, giving us a stylishly punk and exaggerated hellscape that fits in nicely with Iron Fist’s Shaw Brothers-esque tone and the overall crossover’s hellish central concept.
In the throes of Damnation, Danny Rand faces old fears and even older friends, delivering a solid solo tie-in issue. Writer Ed Brisson and artists Damian Couceiro and Andy Troy really make this tie-in opportunity work for them and their take on Danny, successfully melding the weird kung-fu anachronism of Iron Fist to the magically and demonically inclined crossover. A weird fit, to be sure, but somehow it works. I know, I am just as surprised as you are. Here is hoping that Iron Fist can keep its winning streak alive once all the Vegas drama wraps up.