Iron Fist #76
Story: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colors: Andy Troy
Cover: Jeff Dekal
In Iron Fist #76, Danny (Iron Fist) and Creed (Sabretooth) have made it to the gates of K’un- Lun to find that Choshin and his army (led by The Eel of Blessed Waters and The Rat of Twelve Plagues) has already infiltrated the city and are wreaking havoc. While Danny and Creed fight their way in, a familiar face takes Choshin head on to protect her city.
The team up of Iron Fist and Sabretooth shouldn’t work. These two have been fighting for as long as I’ve been reading Iron Fist (who else remember Creed’s “Slasher” days?), so how could it work? Well it does, it’s so much fun, and Ed Brisson shows us just how much Danny needed Creed to be in K’un-Lun with him. Danny realizes the Choshin isn’t 100% wrong when he tells him that he’s failed K’un-Lun. As Iron Fist, he should have been there to stop this, but he wasn’t and now, his people are paying with their lives, slowly and painfully.
He fights his way through the army, Creed alongside, trying to find someone who will point him in the direction of Choshin. While Danny hunts, Choshin is already in the city center, but he is met by K’un-Lun’s Yu-Ti, Sparrow! The fact that the leader of K’un-Lun is a woman (a blind one at that) is further proof to Choshin that the city is in a tailspin and needs him to save it. Sparrow quickly shows him why his old pig-headed views need some adjustment with a swift kick to the jaw and it’s on! Danny continues to look for someone who knows where Choshin is, but get blindsided by the Eel, who is ready for his rematch (see Iron Fist #2). Creed knows they don’t have time for this, so he just snaps Eels neck. This was a great moment that made me laugh really hard.
Big bad Eel is sour from his loss, hungry to redeem his self, Danny ready for another tough fight, tension is high…and then Sabretooth is just like, “Nope. Don’t have time for this. *Snap* We good? Cool. Let’s go.” It’s also a great way to remind us why Danny needs Creed there. Not to save his life, but to remind Danny of his responsibilities. It starts with a fun little back and forth where Creed reminds Danny that he never agreed not to kill (nor would he. I mean, he came to get payback on the guy that hurt his dead best friend’s kid. Why would he ever agree to no killing? Come on Danny.) Then he snaps Danny into the reality of the situation, which is people are going to die, and it is the Iron Fist’s duty to make sure it’s not his people dying. Sparrow does a pretty great job of holding off Choshin while Danny makes his way through the army, but more on that when I start talking about the art work (because holy awesome).
In a story that is already packed with excitement, the only thing you can do is keep escalating the chaos, and Brisson does that in a most terrifying way. Remember The Rat of Twelve Plagues? The one that can infect people with who-knows-what disease simply by touching them? The one Choshin kept starved in the bottom of his ship? Well he is now running through K’un-Lun like it’s his personal buffet, eating any and everybody trying to get to safety, and thanking them while he does it. (I’m sorry, but I can’t think of anything quite as terrifying as being thanked by the person eating you, while the rest of your body quickly rots.) Luckily, Danny finds reason #2 why he needs Creed there with him. Thanks to Creed’s healing ability, he is immune to most diseases (though, seeing what The Rat did to Constrictor, I think the word “most” is going to be pretty important).
When Danny finally catches up with Sparrow and Choshin, he is ordered to stand down and to take care of the rest of the army. Even after Choshin sucker kicks Sparrow in the face, she still orders Danny to stay out of this fight and focus on the rest of his mess. It’s obvious to Danny that while Sparrow fights Choshin, and Sabretooth fights the Rat, there is no way he stands a chance against that army alone. Danny gets his hands back on The Book of Iron Fist and opens up a portal (Like Choshin did in issue #75), but where to?
The artwork is what really brings this book together. It starts with the cover by Jeff Dekal. Since Iron Fist #1, this book has felt like the Kung Fu movies I would watch when I was younger, and this cover is the best poster for this movie. Playing with the iconic red’s and yellow’s that were used in pretty much every Kung Fu movie poster ever, we get a look at our big bad (Choshin) looming over all in a powerful stance, our heroes in yellow looking ready for battle, and a scene of silhouetted warriors fighting on roof tops. This cover screams, “Pick me up and read me right now!” Mike Perkins (pencils) and Andy Troy (colors) make a great team when it comes to the artwork in the book. At times, it doesn’t even read like a book, it plays out more like a movie as you go from panel to panel, especially during the fight scenes. The best fight scene in the book (really there isn’t a bad fight scene) is the fight between Choshin and Sparrow.
There is very little script in these panels (except to call out specific moves being used, or for Sparrow taunting Choshin that he is losing to a blind woman) which is great because it leaves it up to the art to tell this part of the story. Perkins and Troy highlight particularly exciting moments of the fight in the panels while showing the rest of the fight in silhouettes of red that run across the page. I felt like I was seeing these two highly skilled fighters go head to head in real time without missing any of the fight. It felt like one of those fights that is somewhere between fighting and dancing. They also up the creepy factor to 11 by showing The Rat chowing down on innocents (the first close up of The Rat eating someone is forever burned in my brain and will haunt my nightmares for a while). I also loved how Perkins and Troy depicted Sabretooth’s fight with The Rat compared to Sparrow’s fight with Choshin. The Rat is a feral animal, and with Sabretooth out to get revenge, he might as well be too. It’s not somewhere between fighting and dancing. It is two very fast and very strong animals out for blood and neither will stop until they get it. It’s very fun to watch.
From the opening pages, this book feels like a sneak peek clip from an awesome Iron Fist movie that Marvel would show at San Diego Comic-Con. The introduction of Sparrow is what put this book over the top for me. She was one of my favorite characters from both the Immortal Iron Fist and The Living Weapon lines, because every Kung Fu story needs a blind Kung Fu master and Sparrow fills that roll beautifully (thanks to Davos being the worst adoptive brother ever)! The whole creative team did an incredible job of delivering an exciting chapter to an already exciting arc and leaving us anxiously waiting for the conclusion of Sabretooth: Round Two in Iron Fist #77 (February 7th). Will Sabretooth get the pay back he wants so much? Can Sparrow end Choshin’s vision of a new K’un-Lun once and for all? Where did Danny go and who is he going to bring back to help fight? Can’t wait to find out!