Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Star Trek, Hippies and Kung Fu Oh My...

The Essential Iron Fist came out not so long ago, it's a big chunky black and white volume packed full of classic Kung Fu madness. It contains the full Claremont & Byrne run from the original Iron Fist series which includes this little gem - Iron Fist #7.

Since the first issue Iron Fist has been hounded and tortured by a mysterious bad guy known as Master Khan. In this issue they finally come face to face for the first time.

I have to admit to being a little disappointed at first when Master Khan didn't turn out to be Ricardo Montalbán. There were no ear-crawling brain bugs, not a single cry of 'Khaaan!'or nothing. Instead we get an old dude with thinning hair and a snazzy dressing gown who can't decide if he wants to be the Mandarin or Doctor Strange!

Luckily Claremont makes up for ignoring the obvious Star Trek homage by giving Master Khan an awesome origin. Turning him from a typical, power-mongering Fu Manchu wannabee into a kind of tragic figure with understandable motivations who wants to solve his Iron Fist problem by non-violent means:
..and I would've got away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling kids!

Okay, so we do learn all this during a cheesy, hero-at-my-mercy, super-villain style soliloquy, the kind that Adam West villains loved so much. Still, you gotta love Claremont's ability to get you rooting for the bad guy.

Claremont likes to pack his issues to overflowing, decompression be damned. Not only is this issue the climax of the Khan story-arc, he also kicks a slow-burning sub-plot that he's been building since about issue 3 into high gear. This is the issue where Iron Fist learns for sure that his beloved K'un L'un (mystical Tibetan city full immortals where Iron Fist was taken in and trained after being orphaned) is not the happy pixieland of love and sparkles that he's been led to believe.

Khan reveals to him that the his uncle, mentor and ruler of K'un L'un, Yu-Ti is actually a foul betrayer and co-conspirator in the death of Iron Fist's parents. It's an excellent reveal that leaves us wanting answers. Claremont is the master of sub-plots:That Khan is such a stinker isn't he - of course I still would've preferred him to break out the brain bugs...oh well.

Those bits are great and all but there is another killer moment in this issue that tops them both. It doesn't actually feature Iron Fist at all, it features my favorite member of his supporting cast - ninja chica Colleen Wing.

She's been under the thrall of sonic bad guy Angar the Screamer for the past bunch of issues. He used his 'sonic mindstorm' to coerce her into fighting Iron Fist and God knows what else.

Last issue Iron Fist broke Angar's mental hold on Colleen. As you can imagine she's a little pissed off at the hippie douchebag who warped her brain. All the lovebeads and sit-ins in the world can't save Angar from her slinky, black, samurai-sword toting wrath now:Learn your lesson Angar - don't fuck with a sword-wielding ninja chick wearing her favorite little black number! That's six different flavors of awesome including Rocky Road and Cookie Dough!

That's all the hippie-slashing we have time for today I'm afraid but tune in tomorrow for Prince Namor versus the Mamas and the Papas - there's Atlantean head-cavings galore!
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