Marvel's Netflix shows have been a tremendous success, and as a result the House of Ideas figured that now was a good time to launch a Defenders comic. That's why we've got two of Marvel's biggest talents — Brian Bendis and David Marquez — working together on a phenomenal new series.
The third issue has just seen a homage nobody saw coming, as the mysteriously powerful Diamondback has just shown Iron Fist who's boss:
It's a scene that will give any comic book fan pause. Visually, Marquez has deliberately paid homage to Batman #397, a classic scene in the iconic "Knightfall" arc. That story saw Batman pushed to his limits when a ruthless new enemy, Bane, orchestrated a mass prison break from Arkham. The exhausted Batman was ultimately confronted by Bane and paralyzed.
It's an unforgettable moment in comic book history, brought to life in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.
But this time around, in Defenders, the homage is so powerful precisely because we don't see it coming. Diamondback has been dead for years, but now he's mysteriously returned — and he's tougher than ever before. He's already left Luke Cage for dead, and now he gets into a quick tussle with Iron Fist.
Incredibly, Diamondback literally catches Danny Rand's punch — a blow with the full power of his Chi behind him — and soon Rand is helpless before him. You can see how that goes for poor Iron Fist.
Remember, this isn't the amateurish Iron Fist of the Netflix show. This is a seasoned warrior, one of the greatest martial artists in the Marvel Universe, and he's just been taken down with horrific ease. In a comic book industry often dominated by world-changing events, such as the ongoing Secret Empire, it's easy to overlook the street-level books. With this breathtaking scene, Bendis and Marquez have just caught our attention.
What's Next For Iron Fist And The Defenders?
This isn't the kind of injury you walk away from. Unless the Defenders can find a superhuman with a gift of healing, Danny Rand's career as Iron Fist is over. He may not be dead, but his time as a superhero has seemingly come to an end. Meanwhile, Diamond is making a bid to become the new Kingpin of New York, and taking down Iron Fist — in a crowded street, no less — will earn him a lot of street cred. I suspect he'll simply walk away now, leaving Iron Fist crippled but alive, a statement to the whole world not to mess with Diamondback.
Diamondback has been looking to make a statement, and Black Cat saved Luke Cage's life because she believed killing Luke would bring too much heat. Now he's found another way, and it's through poor Danny Rand.
So far, we have no idea how Diamondback's become so powerful; we don't even know how he's alive again (although my money's on the Hand, given this series is loosely inspired by the upcoming #Defenders show). Rather than just take him on, the surviving heroes have only one real way to defeat him — learn where his powers come from, and strip him of them.
Will we get another Iron Fist? "Knightfall" led to Jean-Paul Valley briefly taking over as the Dark Knight, after all, and this homage raises the intriguing possibility that Marvel will be launching a similar legacy-inspired arc. What's more, Marvel's been teasing that the ancient Iron Fist heritage — passed on through the generations — will be a major part of the #MarvelLegacy relaunch. It really does look as though K'un L'un will need to find Danny Rand's replacement.
Iron Fist has been broken, a shocking twist that nobody saw coming. By paying homage to "Knightfall," Bendis and Marquez have deliberately signalled that Defenders #3 will have real, long-term consequences for the wider Marvel Universe. Meanwhile, the threat of Diamondback has just become more noteworthy than ever before. I can't wait to see what happens next...