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5 Comics You Should Read Before Watching Iron Fist

The first trailer for the upcoming Netflix/Marvel series Iron Fist is here. Let’s take a look:

Nothing too shocking here. Danny Rand, a successful New York businessman, suffers a traumatic incident in his childhood. (Don’t all superheroes?) Rand trains in martial arts and gains the power of the Iron Fist, which can raise his techniques to superhuman levels.

Like the Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage series before it, Netflix’s Iron Fist will likely focus on a less-powerful-than-the-Avengers superhero who cleans up a New York City neighborhood by taking on a minor supervillain.

Iron Fist will debut March 17, 2017, which gives viewers plenty of time to prep themselves. Marvel’s Netflix shows have drawn upon comic book lore in a big way, including obscure characters, visual gags and even climactic story points. You don’t need to read every single Iron Fist comic book, but a little light reading could mean the difference between enjoying a well-made show and seeing a beloved story come to life.

When the Iron Fist trailer debuted at New York Comic Con, we learned two more interesting things. First, the Punisher, introduced in Daredevil Season 2, will get his own show. Second: Sigourney Weaver will play an as-yet-unidentified villain in The Defenders, an upcoming Netflix show that will see Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up. Read on for a few comic book recommendations to get you ready for those shows, too.

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Marvel Premiere (1972) #15 – 25

Back in the ‘70s, Marvel Premiere was sort of a catch-all series, which sometimes wrapped up second-string character arcs, and other times introduced entirely new heroes. In Marvel Premiere (1972) #15, Iron Fist made an action-packed debut. The early stories introduced the world to Danny Rand, to the mystical city of K’un-Lun where he got his training, and to a handful of supervillains who helped Iron Fist get his crime-fighting sea legs. Iron Fist’s early adventures were mostly self-contained stories, although they did slowly weave in more famous characters, like Captain America’s nemesis Batroc the Leaper. While these are not the most ambitious Iron Fist stories, this is where it all started.

Power Man and Iron Fist (1978) #50 – 70

Luke Cage and Iron Fist are like peanut butter and jelly: each is great on his own, but combine the two, and you’ve got something special. As best friends, sparring partners and talented superheroes, Luke Cage (AKA Power Man) and Iron Fist tackle a variety of villains, from Harlem gangsters to mystical ninjas to cosmic conquerors — and even take a few cracks at each other! The stories are worthwhile just for the gorgeous late ‘70s artwork and colors, but they’re also an endearing look at how two very different heroes can still become boon companions and an unstoppable team.

Immortal Iron Fist (2006) #1 – 27

For a more modern take on the character, look no further than Immortal Iron Fist from fan-favorite writer Matt Fraction. As Captain America and Iron Man prepare for the events of Civil War, Iron Fist must evaluate his own place in the world and learn about the previous wielders of his mystic superpowers. What follows is part martial-arts action, part criminal investigation, part historical mystery and part globetrotting adventure. Luke Cage, Misty Knight and many other important Marvel characters play supporting roles, helping flesh out Iron Fist’s place in the Marvel superhero pantheon. You’ll probably want to read Civil War, too.

The Punisher (2000) #1 – 12

While we don’t know what the story of the Punisher TV series will be yet, this 2000 comic book series pits him against the mob, the cops and Daredevil — all at the same time — which seems to happen to the Punisher an awful lot. In this 12-issue series, the Punisher takes center stage, and readers get to learn not only how he deals with his opponents, but also how he sees himself and his bloody quest to kill every violent criminal in New York City. This story even helps show off the Punisher’s human side, as he seeks to defend innocent victims from his pursuers.

New Avengers (2010) #16 – 30

Although the Defenders TV show will include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, they have never been part of that particular team in the comics. In fact, the four characters have officially shared a team only once: the New Avengers, after the events of Fear Itself. After saving Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s baby, Daredevil reluctantly agrees to join the team, of which Iron Fist is already a member. The four heroes must then aid the New Avengers in battle against some of their fiercest foes to date: the Uncanny X-Men. It’s a superhero brawl for the ages.