Monday, October 1, 2007

1970's Flashback: Iron Fist

Iron Fist (Daniel "Danny" Thomas Rand-Kai) was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, he first appeared in Marvel Premiere #15 (May 1974) to cash in on the popularity of martial arts in the early 1970s. The character originally appeared in nine issues of Marvel Premiere (#15–25) before moving on to this own title. Thomas acknowledged that a 1940's character, Amazing Man, created by Bill Everett served as inspiration for Iron Fist. Iron Fist also ran in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu starting with issue #10 of that series, but as the martial arts craze died down, sales lagged and both titles ended. However with the cancellation of his solo series Iron Fist soon reappeared in Power Man #48–50, where he was partnered with Luke Cage. Power Man was then renamed Power Man and Iron Fist with issue #50, and ran until issue #125 in September 1986.

Daniel Rand was born in New York City, the son of American businessman Wendell Rand, a wealthy entrepreneur who discovered the mystical city of K'un-L'un as a young boy. During his time in K'un L'un, Wendell saved the life of the city's ruler, Lord Tuan, and was adopted as Tuan's son. However, Wendell eventually left K'un L'un and became a wealthy entrepreneur in the United States. He married socialite Heather Duncan and had a child, Daniel. When Daniel was nine, Wendell organized an expedition to again seek out K'un L'un, taking his wife Heather, his business partner Harold Meachum, and Daniel. During the journey up the mountain, Daniel slipped off the path, his tie-rope taking his mother and father with him. Meachum, who also loved Heather, forced Wendell to plunge to his death but offered to rescue Heather and Daniel. She rejected his help, preferring to journey on their own or die.
As explained in Marvel Premiere #15, Heather and Daniel come across a makeshift bridge that appears out of nowhere and are attacked by a pack of wolves. Heather throws herself on the wolves to save Daniel and is killed even as archers from K'un L'un attempt to save her. The archers take the grieving Daniel to see Yü-Ti, the hooded ruler of K'un L'un. When Daniel expresses his desire for vengeance, Yü-Ti apprentices him to Lei Kung, the Thunderer, who teaches him the martial arts.
Daniel proves to be the most gifted of Lei Kung's students. Rand conditions his fists by plunging them into buckets of sand, gravel and rock to toughen them. At 19, Daniel is given the chance to attain the power of the Iron Fist by fighting and defeating the dragon known as Shou-Lao the Undying, which guarded the molten heart that had been torn from its body. During the battle, Daniel throws himself against the scar of Shou-Lao, which burns a dragon tattoo into his chest. Having killed Shou-Lao, he enters its cave and plunges his fists into a brazier containing the creature's molten heart, emerging with the power of the Iron Fist.When K'un L'un reappears after 10 years, Daniel decides to leave and find his father's killer. Returning to New York, Daniel Rand, dressed in the ceremonial garb of the Iron Fist, seeks out Harold Meachum, now head of Meachum Industries. Before Iron Fist can decide whether or not to kill him, Meachum is murdered by a mysterious ninja, and Iron Fist is blamed for the death. Eventually, Iron Fist clears his name and begins a career as a superhero, aided by his friends Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, falling in love with the latter. Danny Rand, as Iron Fist, is a master martial artist. He also has a healing ability and by concentrating his chi in his fist manifests the Iron Fist power.

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