Marvel Premiere 19, 20, 21, and 22 (1974-1975)
Welcome back to Iron Fist 101, when we concluded Part 3 Iron Fist had refused to kill Harold Meachum only to have him killed by a mysterious ninja. Issue 19 picks up with Danny leaving the Meachum building and reflecting on how he feels bad for Joy Meachum since he knows what it is like to have your father murdered. As he leaves the building he finds a woman waiting for him. She quickly gives him hat and coat to throw on over his costume and they jump into a taxi.
That woman is Colleen Wing and this is her Marvel Comic Debut. Colleen will be very, very important to the Iron Fist series. She’ll later appear with Misty Knight in other books as the Knightwing Restorations Detective agency or their better known name, the Daughters of the Dragon. While Iron Fist and Colleen are in the taxi Joy Meachum calls her uncle. Ward Meachum seems unsurprised that his brother is dead and tells Joy that her father had left instructions on what to do if he was killed.
Colleen explains to Danny that her father, Lee Wing, is a Professor of Oriental studies at Columbia University. She says he knew Iron Fist would be leaving the Meachum building and that he is in need of help. As they exit the taxi Iron Fist knock out two assailants that were watching the apartment. Inside Professor Wing explains those men were assassins from the Cult of Kara-Kai. The cult has been trying to kill him since on an expedition he found an ancient book that was supposed to have a secret that would destroy the land of K’un-Lin. He goes on to tell Danny that he heard about him from a dying traveling monk.
Iron Fist still trying to prove his innocence uses Wing’s phone to call Joy Meachum. She tells him to meet her at an arcade. After that she quickly calls her uncle who dispatches a group of assassins who jump Iron Fist. The ninja shows up in the middle of the fight to help Iron Fist again. In the end he leaves Danny a newspaper that shows the headline, “Iron Fist sought in Meachum murder.”
Issue 20 opens with Iron Fist fighting more Kara-Kai cultists. He urges the Professor to go into hiding and then reveals he has to leave so he can prove his innocence to Joy Meachum. Colleen is very upset to have Danny leaving them already. Iron Fist sneaks into the Meachum building and into Joy’s office. She flies into a rage when she sees him but quickly switches to keep him in her office until help arrive. Uncle Ward has hired more help to take out Iron Fist. In fact this time he hired Batroc the Leaper!
They have an amazing fight before Danny uses the power of the Iron Fist and sends him flying. Batroc isn’t alone though and an army of mercenaries appears to take down Iron Fist. I mean an army too, this isn't a handful of people. Again the ninja shows up and helps fight off the horde. They make sure to point out that the ninja is straight up killing people here. Once they are victorious Danny tries to question the Ninja but he disappears in a puff of smoke, because you know, ninja. The issue ends with the ninja holding a book and slowly he turns into Professor Wing!
Issue 21 starts with Ward Meachum stiffing Batroc and his men for not killing Iron Fist. Even back then Batroc got no respect. Iron Fist returns to Professor Wing’s home to find it completely trashed. As he looking for Colleen and the Professor he’s stopped by Misty Knight. Because this is a comic book Misty immediately thinks Iron Fist is the cause of her missing friend and attacks him. They fight briefly before Iron Fist uses a neck pinch to knock her unconscious. Suddenly an astral version of the ninja appears and begins leading Danny down a hidden area of the subway that houses the Temple of Kali.
Colleen and the Professor are chained to a giant statue of Kali. We are introduced to the “Living Goddess” Ushas the Shade and Shaya favored of the Sun. We find out the book the cult is trying to get is called the Sacred Volume of Kali. Of course a fight breaks out where we learn that Ushas has a cloak that creates darkness and Shaya has nunchaku that glow like the sun. The Professor and Colleen are freed during the fight and the ninja appears to help Iron Fist. One of the cultists is running away with the book when he is hit with a ninja star. The book falls into a fire pit and is destroyed. Suddenly the ninja and Professor Wing split. The ninja reveals that the Dragon Kings imprisoned him in the book. Now that he was free he could have his revenge on the city of K’un-Lun and he was going to start by killing Iron Fist.
Issue 22 opens in a giant free for all. Iron Fist and the ninja are still fighting each other and the Cult of Kara-Kai. It becomes even crazier when the police appear. The ninja confesses to the murder of Meachum, saying he revels in murder. He then uses his ninja powers to teleport him and Iron Fist into another dimension. The two begin to fight and the ninja drops his back story.
Ninja was a master samurai who was cast out because of his cruelty. He trained to become a ninja under Master Khan. Ninja was introduced to the Book of Many Things, now known as the Sacred Volume of Kali. It talked about the warriors or K’un-Lun, brave warriors who would pose a threat to Master Khan’s plans. Ninja used the book to travel to K’un-Lun and attack. Ninja cut through the surprised people of K’un-Lun until he was defeated by Lei-Kung the Thunderer. Ninja’s soul was ripped from his body and imprisoned in the Book of Many Things. The book passed many hands through the ages until Professor Wing found it. Ninja possessed the Professor and kept Iron Fist alive because he believed Iron Fist would somehow free him of his prison.
Danny uses the power of the Iron Fist to hit Ninja’s glowing sword and the explosion knocks him back into the Temple. The Professor tells Danny the police handled the rest of the cultist and that Iron Fist is being cleared of Meachum’s murder. Iron Fist laments that so much of his life has been focused on revenge and now he doesn’t know what to do. The Wings advise him to stop worrying about Iron Fist and learn who Danny Rand is.
A lot happens in those four issues, but I felt they were all part of the same story. Issue 22 really wraps up that arc. What I find interesting is that it seemed like the writers were moving towards a Danny and Colleen relationship. Not only will that not happen, their friendship will be taking some pretty strange twists and turns. Speaking of Colleen, it should be noted that she is of Japanese descent. A lot of current artists seem to forget that and she ends up looking Caucasian. There is lots more Iron Fist 101 to come, we haven’t even gotten to his first solo series yet!
19: Writer Doug Moench, Penciler Larry Hama, Inker Dick Giordano, Colorist Jan Brunner, Letterer Ray Holloway.
20: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Dan Green, Colorist John Drake, Letterer Ray Holloway.
21: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Vince Colletta, Colorist Stan Goldberg, Letterer Joe Rosen
22: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Aubrey Bradford, Colorist George Roussos, Letterer Karen Mantlo.