Marvel celebrates Iron Fist 50th anniversary with new collection of early stories

Marvel will publish a massive collection of early Iron Fist stories next January, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the character’s debut in the US in May 1974, and his Marvel UK debut just a few months later, in weekly The Avengers comic.

Iron Fist: Danny Rand – The Early Years Omnibus - Retail Edition

Iron Fist: Danny Rand – The Early Years Omnibus, scheduled for release on 30th January 2024, a 952-page hardcover collection, features both Danny Rand’s early colour stories, and the black and white adventures that appeared in The Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu! magazine – plus, a three-part story in which Iron Fist’s fellow detectives Colleen Wing and Misty Knight have their own solo adventure.

The 952-page hardcover omnibus is being offered with a retail cover utilising art by Gil Kane, and a direct market-only variant cover by Dave Cockrum.

Iron Fist: Danny Rand – The Early Years Omnibus - direct market-only variant cover by Dave Cockrum
Iron Fist: Danny Rand – The Early Years Omnibus – direct market-only variant cover by Dave Cockrum

Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, the early Iron Fist stories were written by Chris Claremont, Doug Moench, and Tony Isabella with Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Bill Mantlo, and David Anthony Kraft; and penciled by John Byrne, Rudy Nebres, and Larry Hama with Gil Kane, Arvell Jones, Pat Broderick, Marshall Rogers, Frank Mclaughlin, Don Perlin, and Joe Staton.

The original Iron Fist comic was distributed in the UK as a “Pence” copy, price variously at 9p or 10p. Needless to say, back issues are a bit pricier today!

With interest in kung fu taking Britain by storm in the mid-1970s, it should come as no surprise to learn that the character also featured in a Marvel UK weekly, The Avengers, making his debut in Issue 52, cover dated 14th September 1974, his adventures interchanged with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu from the title, although he would eventually make way for reprints of Conan the Barbarian.

Reading between the lines of editorial comments, it seems Iron Fist was included so the weekly comic could stay ahead of the US publication of new Master of Kung Fu stories, their often British setting perhaps more popular on this side of the Atlantic.

The weekly superhero titles chewed through Marvel’s US output at a prestigious rate, meaning there was a need to not use new stories too close to their original release. This did, of course, occasionally make for some strange line-ups and dropped in one-off strips!

Author Rob Kirby, a Marvel UK expert, confirms that because Marvel UK had started running Master of Kung Fu so soon after its US launch, they were using material far quicker than the US publication rate.

“To counter this, the US Bullpen had to get extra material generated to satiate our needs, but even that wasn’t enough,” he tells us, “so a decision was obviously taken to insert runs of Iron Fist every few months to help out. The Iron Fist reprints would then pause whenever the cover-dated month of the UK edition caught up with that of the US edition.

“This wouldn’t be the last time that decisions were made to produce more material to keep the UK books with strips in hand,” Tob notes, “Star Wars being the most well-known example, although I’ve uncovered some others.”

We are very much looking forward to his long awaited book on the history of Marvel UK, to find out more.

Iron Fist also starred in an eponymous but short-lived Netflix series starring Finn Jones, that ran for two seasons between 2017 and 2018.

In 2021, Marvel announced that Danny Rand would no longer be Iron Fist, replaced by Lin Lie, formerly Sword Master, in a five-part limited series, Iron Fist: The Shattered Sword, collected in late 2022, written by Alyssa Wong with art by Michael Yg and Sean Chen.

Pre-order Iron Fist: Danny Rand – The Early Years Omnibus from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) or your Local Comic Shop | ISBN: 978-1302954857 | 952 Pages

Collects: Marvel Premiere #15-25, Iron Fist (1975) #1-15, and Marvel Team-Up (1972) #63-64 as well as material from Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #10, #18-24, #29, and #31-33, Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu Special #1 and Bizarre Adventures #25

Check out the Near Mint Condition preview

Categories: British Comics, Comic Previews, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, US Comics

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