IRON FIST/WOLVERINE: Jay Faerber (Mania.com)

By:Michael Patrick Sullivan
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Combining the best of the past, present and future has been a running theme in the work of writer Jay Faerber. Keeping true to form, that practice continues in the Iron Fist/Wolverine: The Return to K'un Lun four-issue mini-series. In the story, Faerber ties up some plot threads from his own recently cancelled New Warriors series, as well as several dangling Iron Fist plot threads.

As many long-time readers already know, Iron Fist is Danny Rand, a martial artist possessed of mystical energy from the legendary city of K'un Lun, which exists alternately in our dimension and another. In Iron Fist's recent Heroes for Hire series, which re-teamed him with Luke Cage, his old co-star from the 1980s series Power Man and Iron Fist, Rand arranged for K'un Lun to return to our dimension in the year 2000. But that series met an untimely end before the plotline could be played out. Now, it's the turn of the century and Faerber is picking up where other writers left off. That's the old.

The new is a storyline that was originally suggested by New Warriors assistant editor Brian 'Smitty' Smith. Rand guest-starred in the series, only to have his mystical power stolen by a young ninja named Junzo Moto, who became the new Iron Fist. New Warriors also met the axe a few issues later. However, the remainder of the story was always intended to run in a stand-alone mini-series.

'Last year, Marvel was planning a number of villain-themed minis,' says Faerber, referring to Magneto: Dark Seduction and Doom. 'When we started this 'evil Iron Fist' storyline, I asked [editor] Bobbie Chase if we could spin the teenage Fist into his own mini, and she said that was a great idea. I was surprised editorial went for it. They usually shy away from referencing old series, especially old series that never sold very well.'

As the current mini-series opens, Rand's plan for K'un Lun to return to Earth is coming to fruition. However, Moto is attempting to pervert that plan to his own ends by manifesting K'un Lun in Tokyo, where he can conquer the city and use its mystical resources to turn his ninja organization, the Hand, into a world power. Because the ancient city is directly tied to Rand's heartbeat, Rand must be in Tokyo for the event to occur. So, to draw him there, Moto directs the Hand to kidnap Rand's Girlfriend, Misty Knight, and bring her to Tokyo, knowing that the original Iron Fist will surely follow.

A Helping Hand

The depowered Iron Fist is neither the sole star of the series, nor alone in his battle against Moto. The X-Men's Wolverine also shares the spotlight. But what exactly does the feral mutant bring to this continuation of the Iron Fist legend? 'Readers, readers and readers!' exclaims Faerber.

'Wolvie wasn't part of my initial proposal, but the higher-ups at Marvel thought a solo Iron Fist mini wouldn't sell,' reveals Faerber, who says it was their suggestion to team Iron Fist with Wolverine. 'It began rather forced, but he ended up working pretty nicely. Wolverine enters the story quite naturally, as his history against the Hand also leads him to Tokyo to find out what kind of trouble they have planned. Wolverine and Iron Fist have a nice chemistry, one that's very different from Fist and Luke's.'

In fact, it was chemistry that first attracted Faerber to the Danny Rand character. 'Power Man and Iron Fist was one of my favorite books when I was a kid,' admits Faerber, who says Luke Cage will make an appearance in the mini-series. 'I just loved the whole buddy-aspect of it, and the duo was so rich in characterization and history.'

As for Iron Fist's future, Faerber hopes there may be more of the masked martial-artist yet to come. 'I've already pitched a sequel mini-series, in case this one does well,' says Faerber. 'Marvel is so gun-shy when it comes to launching new monthlies that I'm not being that ambitious. But if they ask for one, I'm their man!' Faerber also hopes to continue his creative relationship with Iron Fist/Wolverine artist and his long-time collaborator, Jamal Igle 'I'd love to have him aboard the sequel,' says Faerber. 'I think we make a great team. We have similar sensibilities, and complement each other's work really nicely.'

Titanic Assignment

The Marvel Universe isn't the only place Faerber enjoys combining old and new elements and characters. Starting this month, he'll also be doing the same for the competition, DC Comics, when he takes over monthly writing chores on The Titans from friend and writing colleague Devin Grayson. 'I'm a pretty big Titans fan,' confesses Faerber, who says it was Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans in the 1980s that hooked him on comics. 'They're probably my favorite super-team, all things considered. It was the one that captured my imagination and interest more than any other. I 'discovered' the book by just stumbling across it in the local drug store, and I was stunned to find out that Robin--who I knew from the Adam West Batman TV series and Super Friends--had his own super-team!'

Faerber's no stranger to writing The Titans, either. He used to write Titans fan fiction for the Amateur Press Association's Titans Talk, and has been co-writing the series for the last several months with Grayson, who he says helped make his transition to full-time scribe easier. 'By bringing me on as co-writer, Devin was sort of setting me up as her replacement, knowing that she was going to be leaving sooner than later,' says Faerber. 'So, while she was officially telling DC she was leaving with #20, I was cranking out a proposal detailing where I'd take the series.'

Eddie Berganza, editor of The Titans, already had his eye on Faerber, though that wasn't necessarily clear to Faerber at first. 'Eddie called and asked to see an outline for my first six months, which was all kinds of confusing,' admits Faerber. 'Did this mean I had the job?' After the bewildered writer turned in the outline, he and Berganza met over dinner. 'Eddie said something like, 'So did you tell Frank [Pittarese, a mutual friend and editor of Faerber's Generation X run at Marvel] you're the new Titans writer?' That's when I finally realized I had it.'

Faerber definitely intends to use the playground he's been afforded to his advantage. 'In my first five issues, I delve pretty seriously into a lot of continuity-heavy stuff,' says Faerber. Beginning in this month's issue #21, the bizarre relationship between Arsenal and his daughter Lian's mother--and international terrorist--Cheshire heats up when she's targeted by a new group of villains known as the Hangmen, as well as an old Titans' favorite, Deathstroke. At the same time, Green Lantern guest stars in issue #22 with Epsilon, a mysterious character first glimpsed in Titans Secret Files #2 who'll figure prominently in the Titans' future.

Then, beginning in November's issue #23, Faerber revisits the muddled past of Donna Troy in the 'Who's Troia?' trilogy, which features an unexpected new Titans team and the returning threat of Dark Angel from Wonder Woman, who's attempting to erase Troia from all of Hypertime. According to Faerber, the story will answer many lingering questions about Donna Troy's identity--for fans as well as the characters--and will culminate in a special double-sized extravaganza in issue #25 featuring tons of guest-stars. 'We've also got former Titans artists Nick Cardy, Terry Dodson, Tom Grummett and Phil Jimenez involved, each contributing a handful of pages,' explains Faerber, who says Wolfman and Perez will also contribute a short sequence.

Following the first five issues, Faerber promises that he and new editor Andy Helfer are 'going to steer away from continuity-laden stories, and concentrate on telling good stories involving the current cast that any reader can pick up. While the continuity stories are great for long-time Titans fans, it makes it pretty hard to attract new readers, so we're making a conscious decision to make the book a little more streamlined.' And those efforts won't ignore what his friend, Grayson, began with the Titans relaunch almost two years ago. 'I still bounce ideas off of her,' says Faerber, 'and she helps me work out any trouble spots.'

Super Crossover

Faerber's current expeditions in the DC universe don't end with The Titans. He's also penning Superboy #80-#82, before new writer Joe Kelly takes over. Faerber took the gig as a favor to Superboy editor Mike McAvennie. 'To sweeten the deal, he said I could have the Titans guest-star, and that the book would be shipping the same month as my debut issue of Titans, so I jumped at the chance to help plug my book.'

When Roxy, a member of Superboy's supporting cast, merges with a deadly alien life form in issues #80-#81, Superboy must stop the combined creature without harming his friend. However, when the Titans approach the situation differently, Faerber says, 'Superboy's going to come into conflict with the Titans.' Finally, in issue #83, Superboy will take on the villain Negative G while Faerber re-establishes a connection between two characters who were blood-relations before Crisis on Infinite Earths played havoc with continuity in the mid-1980s: Superboy's Cadmus colleague Jim Harper, a.k.a. Guardian, and Roy Harper, Arsenal of the Titans.

While Faerber has earned a reputation as DC's pinch hitter for this fill-in stint on the Boy of Steel, as well as a recent three-issue run on Green Lantern, he currently doesn't have any other fill-in work planned. But that's not to say that Iron Fist/Wolverine and The Titans are the only things on Faerber's plate for the foreseeable future. He's also got a Firestorm proposal brewing at DC, and an unnamed creator-owned project that he's teaming with former Mutant X artist Billy Dallas Patton to develop. 'It hasn't even been officially picked up by a publisher yet, so it's really premature to start talking about,' says Faerber. It does ensure, however, that there'll likely be a lot more Jay Faerber in the future.