Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 by Marvel Comics hits your local comic book shop on January 20. Veteran writer Larry Hama works with artist David Wachter to showcase the scales Danny Rand faces. Colorist Neeraj Menon highlights the mystical elements of an underutilized part of the Marvel Universe. Finally, Travis Lantham gives a voice to every action.
The Iron Fist world has always been full of potential, with martial arts characters carving a niche within Marvel. While the likes of Shang-Chi occupy one corner and Daredevil touches upon another, they never seem to interact. That seems to be changing this time around.
Of Course, It Has Ninjas
Both Hama and Wachter have experience within the martial arts sub-genre, especially with ninjas. Hama throws the cast immediately into a conflict without warning, with a healthy dose of ironic humor. Iron Fist’s first impression of location is not with shock but with a mundane outlook. Because for a superhero universe, zombies are just another Wednesday.
Wachter demonstrates the scale of Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 through architecture. In just one of the settings, the building of the Under City, along with the burning smoke, look disorienting. For anyone other than Iron Fist, a sudden attack from a zombie calvary would kill them in an instant.
The fight scenes evoke the capabilities of the characters, often through panel work. The panels featuring Iron Fist, in particular, showcase the champion in both anticipation and split-second movements. In just one page, Iron Fist destroys a zombie ninja and its horse in the blink of an eye, which is why appearances from fighters who can keep up with Iron Fist like Taskmaster have fewer panels. These bigger panels emphasize the explosive blows they use to keep Iron Fist off balance.
Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 Mystic Colors
Menon provides Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 with a mystic undertone. Among all of the dangers that are highlighted with yellow and red, cooler colors exist in contrast. For example, a mystic doorway is purple, acting almost like a warning of danger ahead, unlike the safer Rand Tower. Then there comes a visitor near the end of the issue which is coated with a glow of blue whose very presence can cause some relief. Anything specific might be spoilers, so let’s just say that this entity is godly in every way.
VC’s Lantham keeps pace throughout the issue through efficient use of word balloons, captions, and SFX. In keeping pace with the action, no more than two sentences in carefully placed word balloons occupy a panel. The few uses of captions differ from highlighting locations to a monologue of a character off-panel. As for the SFX, each usage of action is unique, never repeating a usage for similar occurrences. This gives each blow by the characters a distinct identity. This all gives readers something to look forward to in later issues.
The most unique use of all the lettering in Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 comes from a surprise visitor. Her divine presence has her speak in a distinct light blue font that denotes her benevolence. This is why the plea she relays to Iron Fist feels so dire. There is a threat that a divine incarnation of compassion cannot face.
Psyche Yourself Up In Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1
Within this issue is a chance to see a part of the Marvel Universe between heroics and magic. With plenty of martial arts action to go around, a plot of intrigue is boiling to the surface. Could this new force have something to do with Marvel’s evil ninja clan The Hand, considering the zombie ninja? Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1 leaves readers begging for more.