Fraction talks Iron Fist and "Green Mist of Death"

Mon, January 28th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

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Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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"Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death" one-shot on sale

It's been said, "The specters of the past continue to haunt the present." One resident of the Marvel Universe who's come to understand this is Danny Rand A.K.A. Iron Fist. In the first story arc of "The Immortal Iron Fist," Rand met his predecessor, Orson Randall, who served as the Iron Fist of the Golden Age. "The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven," the series' second arc, depicts Rand competing in a kung-fu tournament Randall ran out on years ago. At the end of the latest issue of "The Immortal Iron Fist," Danny Rand learned one of his rival Immortal Weapons, the Prince of Orphans A.K.A. John Aman, was actually his ally. In February's "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death" special, readers will learn more about the pasts of the mysterious Prince and Orson Randall. CBR News spoke with writer Matt Fraction about the special.

Unlike the "Immortal Iron Fist Annual" #1, the last time readers saw an episode from Orson Randall's past, Danny Rand does not play a role in "Green Mist." "This is all about what brought the Prince of Orphans around to the Army of Thunder," Matt Fraction told CBR News. "Namely, how the Prince's pursuit of Orson Randall over the years managed to evolve his allegiance, and the price both men had to pay as a result."

Exclusive pages from "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death"
The opening of "Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death" finds the title character at a peak point in his heroic career. "He's living high on the hog in the company of the Confederates of the Curious [his steadfast group of assistants that debuted in "Immortal Iron Fist Annual" #1]," Fraction said. "And by the end he's broken, bitter, paranoid, and on the run from 10,000 sinister forces, some real, some imagined."

In between these two time points, Randall and the Prince of Orphans have four genre spanning encounters. "There's an urban pulp style chapter, where we get to see the sanctum sanctorum of Shadu the Shady," Fraction explained. "There's a western chapter, with Russ Heath unleashing the Cowgirls From Hell. There's a horror chapter, where the Son of Frankenstein finds himself drawn into the cat and mouse game between Aman and Randall. Then, lastly, we have a kind of globetrotting adventure that sees action across several continents.

Exclusive pages from "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death"
"Orson has always been best at taking care of number one," Fraction continued. "He's a junkie and a hustler in his heart, even when he's draped in the clothing of a hero. And Aman is, like, the Boba Fett of the Immortal Weapons: an absolutely ruthless and unstoppable samurai bounty hunter that's dedicated himself to finding and killing Orson Randall. Orson's motivation is to stay alive. Aman's is to catch Orson. Unstoppable force, immovable object, etc."

The chapter illustrated by Russ Heath is of special significance to Fraction, who tailored his script especially for the artist. "The only artist I knew for a fact we were working with when I wrote it was Russ Heath, so I wrote the 'Cowgirls from Hell' sequence as a tribute to his legendary collaboration with Michael O'Donoghue from 'The National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor' called 'Cowgirls at War,'" said Fraction. "So to be able to just write Russ a love letter was pretty amazing."

Exclusive pages from "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death"
In addition to Heath, another three artists have brought the four chapters of "Green Mist" to life, each with their own distinct style "Subsequently, our artists-- Nick Dragotta, who I've wanted to work with since 'Dead Girl', Mitch Breitweiser, who draws like the bastard son of David Mazzucchelli and Steve Yeowell, and Lewis Larosa, who I think fell through a portal from some other art-dimension where he must be an A-List comicker on the top of everybody's Must Buy list-- are completely, totally, non-hyperbolically wonderful. I can't believe how great, and how different, the chapters are, and I can't believe that our editor Warren Simons was able to pull it all off."

John Aman is also the real name of a Timely Comics character from the Golden Age, Amazing Man, a hero Roy Thomas cites as the inspiration for the creation of Iron Fist. As readers of "Green Mist" will see, the connection was intentional. "After inspiring one of our favorite Marvel characters, it seemed only polite that we try and repay the favor and reinvent John Aman for a new era," Fraction stated.

Exclusive pages from "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death"
While learning more about the pasts of the Prince of Orphans and Orson Randall, readers of "Green Mist" will also be given peeks into the history of the Confederates of the Curious. "Young Wendell and Barko, Shadu, the Contessa, and even good old Chores MacGillicuddy all have some glory moments. And then they all die," Fraction said. "Okay, not really. But we do get to see how and why the Confederates are no longer a going concern."

You don't have to read the "Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death" special to keep up with the ongoing series, but if you're an Iron Fist fan who wants to experience the full tapestry of the current and future storylines, Fraction thinks this is a one-shot is for you. "The special is a narrative cul de sac, really," remarked Fraction. "If you'd like to know why the Prince is secretly allied with Lei Kung and the Army of Thunder--great! Come check it out. And if you're over it all, then 'The Immortal Iron Fist' #13 will be available soon enough. That said, there are some big explosions that will ring out after the arc is finished; the special shows how its fuse was lit."

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