Marvel’s mysterious martial artist Danny Rand — AKA The Immortal Iron Fist — premiered in Marvel Premiere #15 (May 1974)…
The cover was pencilled by Gil Kane and inked by Dick Giordano (with alterations by John Romita). It’s a great image and a fantastic way to introduce a new character.
Later that same year, this cover appeared on Marvel UK’s The Avengers #61 (16 Nov 1974)…
Eagle-eyed readers might spot some similarities between these two covers…
They are of course the same image, with the original cover rather expertly modified for The Avengers by Arvell Jones (according to the Grand Comics Database). Arvell Jones also pencilled the cover of The Avengers #52 (14 Sep 1974), the issue in which Iron Fist joined the comic — this was my first introduction to the character:
This wasn’t the first time that an American Marvel cover was significantly altered for the UK reprints (and we’ve already covered what Marvel UK did to Killraven in their Planet of the Apes reprint), but this one really was the metaphorical door-handle to the jacket pocket of my attention because I had issue #61 of The Avengers, plus I was very familiar with that Marvel Premiere #15 cover — I’ve always loved it — and yet I only recently noticed the similarities.
Marvel Premiere was a 61-issue series that ran from August 1972 to August 1981. Like its forerunners Marvel Feature and Marvel Spotlight it was designed to be a showcase in which new characters could be introduced and established but sidelined characters could pop up to remind everyone they were still around. Iron Fist was one of the new characters, created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. I absolutely loved him, although — embarrassing confession time — when he removed his mask for the first time (in issue #84 of The Avengers, 26 Apr 1975)…
… I had nightmares about that face. It’s not that he’s particularly ugly in that rendition (pencilled by Arvell Jones and inked by Aubrey Bradford), but the night after I read that issue I had a very frightening wake-up-crying nightmare that I can still recall forty-five years later.
To be fair, even though that image of Danny Rand featured prominently in my night-terrors, there’s a chance he wasn’t the actual cause: that same issue also featured The Avengers battling the evil robot Ultron (who made me very uncomfortable because he always found a way to come back from destruction bigger and badder than ever before), and Doctor Strange fighting Nightmare, who was — to be blunt — pants-wettingly scary to a nine-year-old:
Marvel UK reprinted five further Iron Fist covers from Marvel Premiere…
Note that Triple-Iron (Marvel Premiere #18) and Batroc (Marvel Premiere #20) have both had their costumes’ colours changed… could be that someone in Marvel UK figured that their readers wouldn’t be comfortable buying a comic that showed male characters wearing pink, which is of course a girly girls’ colour for girls.
Bonus: Because I know you’re curious, here’s the full line-up of Marvel Premiere:
The Power of Warlock (#1, #2)
Doctor Strange (#3 – #14)
Iron Fist (#15 – #25)
The Legion of Monsters (#28)
The Liberty Legion (#29, #30)
The Man-Brute Called Woodgod (#31)
Monark Starstalker (#32)
The Mark of Kane (#33, #34)
3D-Man (#35 – #37)
The Torpedo (#39, #40)
Seeker 3000 (#41)
The Jack of Hearts (#44)
Man-Wolf (#45, #46)
Ant-Man (#47, #48)
The Falcon (#49)
Alice Cooper (#50)
The Black Panther (#51 – #53)
The Coming of Caleb Hammer (#54)
Wonder Man (#55)
Dominic Fortune (#56)
Doctor Who (#57 – #60)