First Published: October 2004
Contents: Marvel Premiere #15 (May 1974) to #25 (October 1975); Iron Fist #1 (November 1975) to #15 (September 1977); Marvel Team-Up #63 (November 1977) and #64 (December 1977); Power Man #48 (December 1977) and #49 (February 1978); Power Man & Iron Fist #50 (April 1978)
Key Creator Credits: Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Doug Moench, Larry Hama, Tony Isabella, Arvell Jones
Key First Appearances: Danny Rand/Iron Fist, Yu-Ti, K’un-Lun, Shou-Lao, Thunderer, Joy Meachum, Colleen Wing, Rafael Scarfe, Steel Serpent, Jeryn Hogarth, Victor Creed/Sabretooth
Story Continues In: Essential Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1
Overview: After the death of his parents, young Danny Rand takes refuge in K’un-Lun, a hidden city that appears in our world once every 10 years. While there, he trains in the martial arts, making his body a living weapon. When he focuses his chi into his fist, letting it build until it becomes like unto a thing of iron, Danny Rand can unleash the Iron Fist.
Returning to the real world, Rand is a stranger in a strange land, having to relearn how to function in modern society. Rand finds out that he is the heir to half of the fortunes of the Rand-Meachum Corporation, which allows Rand to live the life he wants to, helping out people as best as he can. He often teams up with Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, the female private detectives from Knightwing Restorations.
Eventually, Iron Fist’s path crosses with that of Luke Cage, the hero for hire known as Power Man. The two form a tight friendship and join together as partners in a Heroes for Hire business.
What makes this Essential?: I believe you have two reasons for wanting to pick up this Essential. The first, and most obvious, is that you are a fan of the Iron Fist character. This is a great way to read about the early years of the character. Iron Fist was clearly a product of the 1970s, fueling the interest in martial arts via a comic book. But he has managed to survive (despite his death in Power Man & Iron Fist #125) for forty years.
The other reason is for the run of issues by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Primarily remembered for their run on Uncanny X-Men, their 15-issue run on the Iron Fist jumps off the page with energy. With cameos by Iron Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men, and with the key first appearance of Sabretooth, the Claremont-Byrne run on Iron Fist is a hidden gem of the Marvel Universe.
Footnotes: Marvel Team-Up #63 and #64 are also reprinted in Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 3.
Power Man #48 and #49 are also reprinted in Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 2.
Power Man & Iron Fist #50 is also reprinted in Essential Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: The Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Travel Foreman, and Duane Swierczynski from 2007. This series helped bring Danny Rand back into the popular spotlight. Early stories focused on the Iron Fist prior to Danny Rand, as the title and role has been passed down multiple times before it reached our hero. Danny Rand would later buy back the Heroes for Hire headquarters and redirect his company into a non-profit organization, becoming a resource for the needy. The series ran for just over two years and is available in multiple editions.