More Past Then Present
Iron Fist has been a character that is often shrouded in obscurity; he's not a terribly popular figure to begin with, but there also isn't much that we know about him, beyond some of his past and his partnership with Luke Cage. Even his powers are a little uncertain, as there hasn't been a chance to clarify them in their entirety. This series strives to fix that, but does so at the expense of development in the present day in favor of the past.
This book is very much focused on explaining not only Danny Rand's past, but the past of the Iron Fist legacy. Most of the issues start with a brief look into one of the Fist's past lives, spanning the centuries. As the series goes on, there is one particular Iron Fist, the one immediately prior to Danny, that is explored in depth, as we learn how Danny's past allowed him to reach his ultimate fate. Yet, in doing so, we sometimes see very little of Danny, to the point of me being unsure as to how much more we learned about him over the course of this story. And, the price of characterizing the past so much is that a lot of it won't carry over into future installments, making the narrative feel a little more scattered than not. Not only that, but a lot of the present day scenarios that Rand faces feel more like symbolism sometimes than anything else.
We are shown a world in which Danny is faced with enemies at every turn, but the enemies aren't very interesting. We're forced to put up with Hydra, one of the go-to organizations for easy plot development, and an enemy of Danny's past returns, but he's not a very interesting. He's honestly too much like Iron Fist in general, visually and fighting wise. And I get that this is done intentionally, as if Danny had done something different in his past, but it's such an overdone cliche, what with Venom and Doctor Doom being versions of the heroes that chose to live their lives in the opposite manner as the heroes, and it takes away from the narrative as a whole. Again, this focuses so much on symbolism that it takes away from much of the story, for me anyway.
The support characters vary, but tend to be on the monotone side. Luke Cage was the only figure I was earnestly intrigued by, but perhaps that's because of other stories of his I've read.
The art here is great, and really reflects the themes and ideas that surround Iron Fist and martial arts in general. There are some instances when it looks a little wonky, specifically in the past, as if another artist took on those two or three pages of an issue, but it's not anything terrible. However, the city can get a little monotonous after a while because of the color palette used or the setting just isn't that intriguing.
As a whole, this is a pretty solid story. It can get a bit confusing at times, as some characters could be mistaken for others and there's a lot of background info to wrap your mind around, but it's a fun tale none-the-less. The story doesn't really end here though; don't think that you can just pick up this volume and be done with the story arch it presents. For those willing to look past the weaker aspects of this book, it can be a rather fun and enjoyable series.