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Old March 1st, 2007   The Iron Fist is offline   #1
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The Iron Fist

joined: Aug 2006
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Default NEWSARAMA: Brubaker and Fraction talk Immortal Iron Fist!

From newsarama:

We’ve been slowly catching up with Ed Brubaker, talking to him about Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men, and Criminal. For his next book, however, we faced a quandary. Obviously, that next book would be Immortal Iron Fist, which he co-writes with Matt Fraction. Should we just interview Ed and leave Matt feeling slighted? Interview both, and then have Matt wonder why we didn’t immediately want to talk to him about his other books? Skip Iron Fist?

Well, with confidence we can say, that when we were presented with this baby, we sliced the sucker clean through, right in the middle. We stepped back, and let Ed and Matt interview each other.

Newsarama Note: Images are from last week’s Immortal Iron Fist #3.

Ed Brubaker: Were you surprised when I asked you to work on Iron Fist with me? Because when they told me I needed a co-writer to fit it in, I immediately thought of you, but I wasn't sure why. I guess I just assumed that you had a love of Hong Kong Fooey and that even if you hadn't read the old series, that angle would intrigue you. But, were you surprised to get that call?

Matt Fraction: I was, only in that-- while we'd talked a good bit, it was just... I mean, it's a flattering thing, you know? Incredibly gratifying. Being asked to co-write with a guy whose work I've really loved for a long time did wonderful things for my already unmanageable ego. It's
funny, too, because I'd never considered pitching or writing an Iron First book until you asked me-- and then it made almost immediate sense. Like, by the time I got off that first phone call with you, I just knew in my gut the kind of book we were gonna do.

Didn't you ask Kirkman first?

EB: Oh... Awkward.... Um.

No, no I sure didn't.

MF: That's okay. He doesn't love you like I love you.

So, what about you? You always loved Iron Fist, right? Like, Cap, the X-Men... all of these were just stepping stones for you on the road to Danny Rand, right?

EB: Not Cap, but yeah, the X-Men were definitely a stepping stone to Iron Fist.

In all seriousness, though, Iron Fist was always a favorite, just as Cap was, when I was a kid. I don't know exactly why, but I know they were each among the first characters I ever bought and latched onto. A lot of my ideas for Iron Fist come from things I thought I remembered in the old Iron Fist and Marvel Premiere issues that isn't actually there now that I've gone back and reread them a few times. Still, I always planned on getting my hands on Iron Fist and trying to do something cool with him. I guess I just dug the mystic Kung Fu hero in the city. It feels so ‘70s now, but when I think about what I want us to do on Iron Fist, I often think of the ‘70s era blaxploitation and kung fu movies.

MF: There should be a name for that-- when you remember something as being cooler than it actually is. Oh! Wait. I think that's just 'nostalgia.' It's an easy book to be nostalgic for, I think. There's tons of great stuff in there, tons of awesome mythology just lying around with the golden booties and the broccoli monsters and all that not so great stuff... like, the core of the character, the core of what you remember and cling on to is precisely as awesome as you remember. We selectively edit out the dumb stuff; it gets scraped off like a cluster of barnacles or something. Barnacles of stupid.

And yeah, when you first talked to me, the book was just... like, I got it, right away, I got the book we needed to do. The vibe was just there-- the best of that grindhouse era with a modern sensibility, and all of it wrapped around KUNG FU BILLIONAIRE which is just, like, the perfect comics character.

EB: Milan Kundera said "*nostalgia* does not heighten memory's activity, it does not awaken recollections; it suffices unto itself," and it's something that shrinks will always tell you, too. That when you miss someone you used to love, you're not missing them as much as you're missing the way you felt then. That's a form of nostalgia, too. And rereading old comics from when you're a kid has that same feeling. You're wrapped in the warmth of those simpler times. I think that's why I wanted to do Iron Fist in the first place, because it reminded me of living in Gitmo as a kid, before it was a detention center, when it was just the smallest town in the world. A few hundred kids and a PX full of comics.

Okay, so I guess there was no question in your last question, so I'll go again. You mentioned our selectively editing out the dumber stuff, which is what I like to call "streamlining continuity." You take all the contradicting parts of the history - like the three different versions of how Danny's dad is related to Yu-Ti - and figure out which one makes the most sense, and go with that. But with Iron Fist, and the various legends of Kun Lun there's so many weird things that have been explained over the years that seem to make almost no sense. Or at least be the kind of reveals that take away any investment you had in the character. Do you have any problem jettisoning stuff like that? This is your first time pulling that trigger after all.

MF: Wow, you're right, there wasn’t a question there...! I come from the Basement Tapes tradition of back-and-forth, where questions were are privilege and not a right... Also, I think you should get half a prop for bringing Milan Kundera up in a conversation about Iron Fist.

I guess the easy answer is no, to tell you the truth, I don't have any trouble streamlining continuity as long as it's in service to the character's core, and not to serve my own, uh, story or character fetish or whatever. Like jettisoning 10 years of established stories because I want to do it my way-- that whole Spider-Man Chapter One thing, where you're retconning really recent work because you think you know best-- that strikes me as... I dunno, uncool? Unethical, almost? Un-polite, surely. I want to build on top of what's come before and not necessarily demolish it to make way for my ideas. What's important to me is remaining true to the heart and soul of the character, of the property, of the idea. I think Morrison called it "superconsistency"? I'm sure somewhere someone is infuriated that, four issues in, we haven't shown the Deadly Broccoli People of K'un L'un or whomever, but I feel like it's our job to write the best Iron Fist book we can, period. That means celebrating the character's legacy but understanding that the nature of sequential serial fiction is malleable and shifting... just like time itself in comics... and that means not each and every single panel stands the test of time. And understanding that what was awesome (?) in 1982 isn't maybe quite so awesome at all now. It means critically analyzing your nostalgia and honing the thing into a sharpened piece of steel.

So let me reframe the question to you, being the guy that brought back Bucky: having a great fondness for this book on the one hand, and a complete willingness to topple the status quo on the other-- how do you feel about what we've honoring or omitting or revising? Do you feel that nagging fan's loyalty to concepts that maybe don't work so well anymore?

EB: No. I think basically the same way you do about that. I have a tendency to just not discuss aspects of continuity or conflicted history in my books, though. If there's some bit that doesn't make sense, or that just feels false to me -- as much of the K’un L’un stuff from Power Man and Iron Fist does -- I try to write around it, so it's not as if I'm saying it's not continuity, I'm just saying it's not important to the story at hand. Of course, there are huge things in Iron Fist that we're sort of revamping, such as exploring the previous Iron Fists. But even in that, I think we're trying to stay true to the heart of the character and the history that has been established. I think they got a little too complicated with explaining all the minutia of K’un L’un at some point, and tied it down to some pretty goofy ideas of who the dragon is, and why the city was there, though, and we're just ignoring or retconning that stuff. And I feel nothing but good about it, because the worst thing a writer can do is tie themselves down to a bad idea when they can fix it, instead.

So, Iron Fist -- what's coming up next? Are we gonna see Danny and Misty knocking boots?

MF: I've been trying to get those two into bed since the second issue! The Immortal Iron Fist #7 is wall-to-wall ballin'. BIG ballin'! DEEEEP! You heard it here FIRST, true believers!

Wait, what?

I can't wait to get to Misty and Danny trying to evaluate their relationship in the wake of Civil War. I think they're such a crazy, fun couple and that they're on opposite sides of this big ideological debate seems the kind of thing that lets you explore your characters in a kind of different way than what most superhero comics tend to do... like, I wouldn't mind taking their relationship through a dark, kind of ugly place where they stay together even though they kind of hate what the other has become. Psychologically that's a lot more interesting to me than to have them be just lovey-dovey or that kind of dumbass Ross and Rachel thing.

More history. There's the one-off stand alone issue that focuses on the Pirate Queen that everybody went bonkers over. The second storyline, which is like the first, only bigger, better, more interesting, more dangerous, and 718% more awesome.

What are you most looking forward to on the horizon?

EB: The next arc, and the detailing of Orson Randall's history with Danny's family. That stuff really came together nicely, and I think fits with the pulp-adventure style that we're going for. And the second arc is going to kick so much ***, yeah. Globetrotting kung fu ridiculousness mixed with corporate espionage and cataclysmic evil bad guys. It's a dream.

So, let's talk about David Aja a bit. Is it just me, or is he getting way better with each issue?

MF: I love Kung Fu Shadow. Between my bits, your bits, Travel's bits, Matt's bits, and--to get to your question-- David's bits, I can read every issue and feel a kind of other-ness to it that I don't feel about anything else I work on... I think everybody's bringing so much that I have a kind of disconnect, emotionally, and I can read the issue with brand new eyes when it comes out... the thing reads to me like a team effort, and I'm such fans of all you guys that every issue is a joy.

And David is a big, big part of that. I've never worked with someone so willfully experimental, so studious, and so... he's so good he makes me up my game, you know? He's so good I want to write harder, write better. I want to break him, I want to crack him in half, I want to know I can outsmart him, just once. I love what he brings to the page. He's like David Mazzuchelli reborn in the pulp tradition. He's actually fun to write for. Every time I get to plan a big David scene, I grin from ear to ear.

To say nothing of Travel's enormous contributions so far, or our phenomenal guest artists (Mr. John Severin, Mr. Russ Heath, et al). So check out my cool segway: we've got these amazing talents handling the flashback stuff which, if you'll think back to our first conversations, kind of the narrative key to our attack. Tell me about what you remember as a kid about this, about where the idea came from, and about how you set out planning the kinds of scenes and set-pieces for our glorious guest artists to handle.

EB: You know, I never really thought about it too much until we started working. I just always remembered that scene where young Davos or Danny (I can't recall which it was) is shown the costume of the Iron Fist behind glass and told, "this is the garb of the Immortal Iron Fist." And in my imagination, I saw an Iron Fist fighting off invading hordes, and fighting dragons, long long ago. And of course, the Golden Age Iron Fist, as we've dubbed Orson - even though he's way pre-Golden Age, really -- in my mind, I just saw these tragic scenes of death and depression and this guy just wasting away. Like a Hemingway character who doesn't die, but just gets further and further lost in memory and drug haze. To get John Severin and Russ Heath to draw these scenes so far blew my mind, and it taught me something great about our editor -- he'll call anyone and ask them to work on this book.

MF: Let's see if we can convince him to call Steve Ditko.

That was awesome. #3 was just a great issue and I can't wait for #4. Both are doing a great job with the book, keep up the great work!

What do you guys think?
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Old March 2nd, 2007   Holiday is offline   #2
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White Pawn

joined: Feb 2005
Location: Illinois
Posts: 1,983


I just picked this up (Issue 1 and 2) and it actually isn't that bad. I have always liked Brubaker's writing so I thought I would give this a shot. I would recommend this book to others. I had to order number 3 since my LCS was out.
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Old March 3rd, 2007   Esco is offline   #3
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Advanced Geoffan

joined: May 2003
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 1,063


This book is great and I'm buying everything these two do except Xmen. I hate the XMen, but I was tempted to buy Bru's run, but my Brother buys it so I read his.
de omnibus dubitandum
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Old March 3rd, 2007   The Punisher is offline   #4
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The Punisher

joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 35


Loving this book so far.
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