Danny Rand trained in the mystical city of K’un L’un and punched through a dragon to become Iron Fist, so he’s none too fond of people questioning his worthiness in the role. However, with K’un L’un ruined and his powers not quite what they used to be, the hero feels the need to prove himself in the pages of Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins’ IRON FIST.
Launching in March 2017, the series brings Mr. Rand to a mysterious island called Liu-Shi where seven kung fu masters challenge not just his skills, but his title as Iron Fist.
We talk with Brisson and Perkins about Danny’s upcoming trials, developing new characters and locations for the Marvel Universe and digging into the history of Iron Fist.
Marvel.com: Ed, what was the process like for getting this gig? Was editorial looking for Iron Fist pitches or did you happen to have one ready to role?
Ed Brisson: Jake Thomas and Axel Alonso approached me to pitch them some ideas for a new Iron Fist series they were developing. When they initially called, I didn’t know what they were going to offer and was more than a little anxious. When they said Iron Fist, I nearly lost it. I’m on the phone, dancing like an idiot while trying to keep my voice level and cool. I’m a HUGE Iron Fist fan and it took a good while for it to sink in that I’d been given the chance to add to the Iron Fist mythology.
Marvel.com: What existing aspects of Danny Rand’s character are you looking to focus on and are there any new elements you’re looking to incorporate?
Ed Brisson: Right now, K’un-Lun is in ruins and since the city is the source of Danny’s powers, that’s going to affect him and his ability to be Iron Fist. Danny’s whole identity is wrapped up in being Iron Fist, so we’ll be following him as he fights to hold on to something that’s slipping away, desperately trying to figure out how to hold on to it.
Marvel.com: Part of the story focuses on Iron Fist traveling around, taking on fighters of all kinds. Will we be seeing any familiar faces in this group?
Ed Brisson: For the most part, Danny is going to be going up against fresh faces. A whole new set of challenges and opponents that will push him as he’s never been pushed before. While nearly everyone he faces will be new to the Marvel U, there will be a certain amount of…familiarity.
Marvel.com: Danny winds up on Liu-Shi, a place that both knows about the Iron First legacy. What can you tell us about the deadly masters he faces there in The Gauntlet?
Ed Brisson: Without spoiling too much, Danny is going to be going up against seven masters who all seem to have a personal vendetta against Danny. Even those who don’t, they’ve got their own reasons for wanting to see Danny fail. Each is a master of Kung Fu, though they’ve each brought in other influences. Some have dabbled in mystical enhancements or elemental powers. Danny has never faced off against so many skilled combatants.
Marvel.com: Mike, what was the process like for developing an all-new place like Liu-Shi that in the Marvel Universe?
Mike Perkins: Luckily, Liu-Shi seems to have wildly diverse environmental zones which provides an added heterogeneity to the action set pieces and the pursuit of Iron Fist’s goal. I’m eagerly looking forward to bringing this new location to life.
Marvel.com: Going back to IMMORTAL IRON FIST, the concept was opened up to include a variety of characters going back through time. Is that something you’re looking to play with and/or add to in your run?
Ed Brisson: Absolutely. THE TRIAL OF THE SEVEN MASTERS will build upon the mythology built in both IMMORTAL IRON FIST and IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON. K’un-Lun has always had issues with infighting and corruption and everything that happens in this arc is because of that. There are threads from both series’ that will be followed up on. So, while there’s a newness to everything that Danny is now up against, it also feels inevitable.
Marvel.com: What’s it been like working with Mike so far on the art and the designs of Liu-Shi and the Seven Masters?
Ed Brisson: Mike is great! Been a fan of his work since first noticing him on DEATHLOK. He’s been sending over designs for the Seven Masters and I’ve been drooling over them. They’re drool-worthy! He’s been able to hone in on what makes each unique and make each really unique. He’s got an incredible sense of design and I think that he’s created a look for the characters that will ensure they stick in people’s heads.
Marvel.com: Danny has had a few different looks in his time as Iron Fist. What were your thoughts on that going into the new series?
Ed Brisson: We’re going to be sticking with the tracksuit that Danny’s been rocking since LIVING WEAPON. It’s a kick-ass look for Iron Fist. I really love that look. Although, that said, we’re going to be seeing Danny out of costume for a good chunk of the story as well.
Mike Perkins: As much as I love the original costume I’ve always despised those little slippers! We’re going with the current design, although Danny himself will be seen in numerous outfits as well as beef-caking it up with his bare-chested battles.
Marvel.com: Mike, you’ve also got a new batch of characters in the Gauntlet fighters. How influential were their animal names in their design process?
Mike Perkins: Totally influential. The powers of each character are incredibly visual – Ed’s done a fantastic job of sparking my design sensibilities and the animal totems of these fighters definitely play into the look of the person as well as the dynamic power of each one. How could you not have fun with kung-fu exponents with names such as The Eel, The Snake, The Rat….?!
Marvel.com: Mike, you’ve done a lot of action-oriented comics in the past. What challenges does a book like IRON FIST offer you as an artist?
Mike Perkins: It’s a whole different dynamic of action, a difficult one which I’m ready to truly embrace. The problem with any fight scene – and particularly a martial arts one – is that it can look stiffly posed. To avoid this problem it all comes down to technique and effects, the flow of movement and how you utilize the tools that you have to emphasize that flow. To accentuate the power of the impact. Iron Fist’s chi and the design of the Gauntlet Fighters also help to provide that dynamism.
There’s also the challenge of Iron Fist being one of my favorite Marvel heroes and following in the footsteps of some truly wonderful runs on the character. I’ll have to try and awaken my own inner illustration chi!
IRON FIST #1 by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins punches its way into stores in March 2017.