Editor's Note: The Immortal Iron Fist #15 arrives in stores Thursday, May 29.
It has made me very sad thinking about The Immortal Iron Fist in recent months. With Fraction, Brubaker, and Aja leaving this Kung-Fu Billionaire epic behind, I can only pray the insanely high standard set by this threesome is matched by the new creative team. With last month's issue ending the sixteen part (counting two specials) epic, encompassing the first and second story arcs, issue #15 instead forces on Bei Bang-Wen, Iron Fist from 1827-1860.
The Iron Fist with the "Perfect Strategy Mind," Bei Bang-Wen has orchestrated an attack on British Forces to help free the Chinese Shipping Ports during what will be called the "Second Opium War." However, Bang-Wen also has another agenda: obtaining the perfect death, one free of fear that stands as a tribute to a life well-lived. Of course, if Bang-Wen succeeded in both missions, this comic would've been over in three pages. Instead Bang-Wen is captured due solely to his own failure at strategizing, and is held as a prisoner of war by British forces in India. There he meets a warrior with a story that mirrors his own, and they plan a rebellion within the prison to escape and rediscover their lost paths.
Similar to the previous Iron Fist Legend story from issue #7, issue #15 uses narration boxes to tell its story instead of dialogue between characters. While characters do talk, they say very little. I tend to dislike this approach to comic storytelling because it makes a lot of the pictures pointless. Instead, panels are used just to accompany the text and become rather stiff depictions of the narration. So while Matt Fraction did a great job scripting, using rather intricate descriptions producing compelling sentences, it still falls flat to me because it doesn't utilize the comic medium to its fullest; letting the art assist in storytelling. It's a real shame because Khari Evans is a great artist and could have really knocked the book out of the park if given more opportunities for fluid panel progressions instead of snapshots.
While issue #15 is still a good comic, worth the three dollar price tag, it isn't as strong as the previous sixteen issues that have preceded it. A part of me wishes Brubaker and Fraction ended their tenure on the book with last month's issue #14 because that was a kick-ass finale to everything they built upon from issue #1. Instead we get two more issues from the duo and if issue #15 is any indication, they seem to be spinning wheels to give lead way to the new creative team taking over at issue #17.
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