ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon,’ Issue #5

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Iron Fist Heart of the Dragon #5 - But Why Tho?Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5 is published by Marvel. Written by Larry Hama with art by Dave Wachter. The colour artist is Neeraj Menon. Letters are by Travis Lanham. This is the penultimate issue. 

The Hierophant and his zombie army of the Eighth City have been raging war on the other Heavenly Cities. His forces have been attacking and killing the dragons of each city, absorbing their chi into one person. Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and the surviving Immortal Weapons brought the hidden cities to Earth so that the heroes of the planet could protect the dragons. One said warrior is Okoye, one of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje. But when Danny and his allies reach Okoye, they find her holding a dragon’s heart in her hand, and watch her slaughter another before their eyes.

Within this issue, Iron Fist and the other chosen fighters deal with the ramifications of Okoye’s actions. Danny is shocked and incensed, launching himself into attacking the royal guardswoman. Okoye is now the vessel for the Heart of Heaven Chi, making her as strong as Iron Fist. As their own fight unravels, the Hierophant and his undead forces reach the Heart of Heaven, attacking its powerful protector and subsequently the heroes that have gathered in the city. With two more dragons down, the cosmic balance is in grave danger.

Each issue in this series has moved at an exceptionally quick pace and Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5. Whilst there are a lot of moving parts within the story, the plot is progressed through action, the fights moving things forward. The fast pace may confuse some readers, and it may be helpful to slow down more in some instances so the broader concepts of the comic can be absorbed and processed properly. A lot has happened in a short amount of time, with plot points that were started in the first issue still confusing in regards to how they affect the wider story. 

The comic is still satisfying to read as the combat is incredible in how it is used for storytelling, and the fantastical elements continue to be expanded upon. There have been huge, important ramifications in previous issues and they continue inside this chapter. They are incredibly surprising to read and the cliffhanger on the last page leads into what looks to be a heart-pounding final issue.

If you are looking for deep character development then perhaps this comic isn’t for you. The gigantic cast means that it isn’t possible for true exploration of what each character is going through. That does not mean it isn’t there, however, particularly in regards to the most crucial figures of the story. Iron Fist is an interesting voice in this chapter as he loses much of his restraint, enraged towards the Dora Milaje murdering the dragons she had been enlisted to defend. Rarely does he lose himself like this, so it is a shock to see. Likewise, Okoye has been a terrific character, now blessed with deified powers of her own. The fight between her and Rand is entertaining, even if they are still holding back against each other. 

It would be nice if there were more occasional small character moments, as this would ground the story full of large concepts and plot points. The Hierophant launches attacks against the various Heavenly cities and comments on what their defenders would think if they saw the devastation that is being unleashed on their homes. But we don’t actually see Fat Cobra or any other of the cities’ delegates responses, something that is missed.

The art is terrific again as Wachter uses the fighting to tell the story just as much as Hama’s dialogue and characters. The choreography is superb, much of it implied instead of actually seen. The demonstration of the figures moving is awesome and has been epic throughout the issues. All of the characters involved are highly trained warriors or superheroes, but each of them moves in their own way. The one-on-one battle between Okoye and Danny is brilliantly designed. Wachter uses thick lines, but there is still intricate muscle definition when they both dodge attacks and counter each others’ moves. The environments of the beautiful, ancient cities are rich in detail.

The colours are amazing. The mixture of superheroes interacting with martial artists creates a contrast in colour. Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Okoye have their iconic costumes that exude signature colours, whilst the others use duller greys and browns. Menon is wise to use faded tones for the colours so as not to make these normally bright shades overpowering on the panel. Okoye now glows after absorbing the dragons’ chi, resulting in her looking even more powerful. 

The letters are great for the most part. The normal word balloons and text is easy to read. The SFX often matches the colour of the object it is against. This makes them wonderfully understated, the reader sometimes noticing them much later. However, the font and colour used for the goddess Quan Yin result in it being difficult and occasionally frustrating to process.

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5 is an investing martial arts comic that has the hallmarks of an event. The reader may find themselves losing much of the story at times, but there are lasting consequences within this series. The fight scenes are where the issue truly shines as it allows for the characters to express themselves through more than just dialogue. The art is astonishing and captures the combat expertly. But it may just require the pace to slow down just slightly so that the impact of what is at stake can truly be assessed. 

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5 is available where comics are sold from May 5th.

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5
3.5

TL;DR

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #5 is an investing martial arts comic that has the hallmarks of an event. The reader may find themselves losing much of the story at times, but there are lasting consequences within this series. The fight scenes are where the issue truly shines as it allows for the characters to express themselves through more than just dialogue. The art is astonishing and captures the combat expertly. But it may just require the pace to slow down just slightly so that the impact of what is at stake can truly be assessed.