Editor's Note: Immortal Weapons #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 22.
"The Book of the Cobra"
With their revival of the Iron Fist series, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction managed to set up a pretty fascinating history and cosmology in a short period of time, deepening the world of the character and building up a rich supporting cast around him. Some of the more interesting of those layers are the other immortal champions of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, who have joined Danny Rand on Earth to fight evil. So while the main Iron Fist title is taking a hiatus, this miniseries will focus on those characters, detailing their histories and backgrounds, at least if this first issue is any indication. It's a good idea, and while Brubaker and Fraction are no longer writing the series, and Duane Swierczynski is apparently getting ahead on Iron Fist scripts, Jason Aaron is a great choice to jump in and present some adventures of these crazy, mystical characters.
The approach here is perfect, walking the line between larger than life and over the top, which works for new characters that are already established heroes rather than the more down-to-earth Danny Rand, who often seems to be in over his head with all this mystical craziness. Fat Cobra, on the other hand, is a jolly force of nature that is right at home in the world of legend, and we learn his history here along with him in a series of pretty unbelievable anecdotes. The conceit is that he has forgotten much of the events of his life, so he hired a historian to track down the truth for him. Unfortunately, he learns that he's not the great warrior that he thought he was, but a sort of oaf who stumbled his way through the twentieth century getting involved in wars, fights, and adventures (watch for cameos from the likes of Ulysses Bloodstone, Union Jack, and Hercules) while leaving a string of broken hearts behind him. It's great fun to read, and Aaron gives it some real poignancy and tragedy with the final reveal, which shows not only how Cobra managed to finally become the great warrior he is now, but also why he refuses to remember the transition. It's reminiscent of the movie Memento, and it's very well done.
With the various stories unfolding, several different artists contribute to the history of the character, with Mico Suayan drawing the present-day framing story in brushed, supple detail. It's an interesting transition between styles, although not all of them stand out completely. Michael Lark has a short especially effective bit in which Cobra spars with a paramour, giving a calligraphic look to a scene that sees a list of martial arts moves like "Flying Monkey Flip-Kick" and "Elbow of a Thousand Agonies" devolve into similar-sounding sexual techniques. Khari Evans and Victor Olazaba's pages depicting Cobra's adventures are also quite nice, using a clean-lined style that gives them a more comic-booky feel than the rest of the issue, which leans toward mystical legend.
It's a very good issue, adding to the universe of Iron Fist in a way that makes everything seem more rich and exciting while still fitting in with the rest of the Marvel universe. And if that wasn't enough, there's even a serialized backup story by Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman about Danny Rand helping one of his students recover her kidnapped brother. It's a good way to tide fans over while they're waiting for the return of the main series, and it makes the book a great value overall, with almost 40 pages of comics actually justifying the $3.99 price tag. If the rest of the miniseries is this good, maybe the regular creative team should take a break more often.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!