Orson Randall (Iron Fist)

The penultimate character from Iron Fist appears in episode 10, Black Tiger Steals Heart. A welcomed guest of Bakuto, Danny is shown a video the Chinese People’s Liberation Army shot in 1948, in which a bunch of Chinese soldiers uselessly try to pass the gate of K’un-Lun, only to be utterly destroyed by that time’s Iron Fist. Danny’s predecessor surely looks fiercer…and even more skilled in the use of his chi, since he’s able to channel his power in both his fists. In the comics, the Iron Fist in 1948 was a native of K’un-Lun, Orson Randall…and that’s quite ironic, considering that he’s not exactly an example of dedication to his cause, having left his place as well…thus saving his own life, by the way. Let’s see together.

Orson Randall’s father, Phineas Randall, was a renowned inventor, and he travelled the world aboard one of his latest discoveries, an experimental airship he flew on along with his wife. When the woman was eight-months pregnant, Phineas’ airship crashed…right in the middle of K’un-Lun, a mythical city that appeared in our dimension only every ten years. Both the inventor and his wife survived, and the woman gave birth to her son in K’un-Lun; they named him Orson, and the wounded woman died immediately after the delivery. Phineas soon abandoned his son to escape to the “normal” world, so the little Orson was adopted by the people of K’un-Lun. He was raised as a child of the city, so he was educated by Yu-Ti in the City of the Immortals‘ philosophy, and he was trained in martial arts by Lei-Kung the Thunderer. Upon coming of age, Orson was chosen to face the dragon Shou-Lao, and he defeated him, obtaining the power of the Iron Fist. As many others before him, Orson left K’un-Lun ten years after his arrival, when the portal was open again, to travel the world and gain experience. Earth, however, wasn’t a beautiful place anymore, as World War I was tearing Europe apart; feeling he had a responsibility to protect the ones who couldn’t do it by themselves, Orson joined the war effort, and fought many battles…but something broke inside him. All that blood and violence, those senseless deaths and that brutality, they made Orson rethink his entire life, making him question his training and the purpose of his combat skills. He turned to alcohol and eventually to heroine to survive his own memories. He never wanted to use violence ever again in his life, but K’un-Lun needed him, as the Tournament of Heavenly Cities was approaching: in this occasion, the champions of the immortal cities would have battled to ensure one of them the right to materialize on Earth every ten years instead of every eighty-eight. Iron Fist would have fought the other champions for their cities’ right…but he didn’t want to fight anymore.

When the Iron Fist’s decision became public, the other champions obviously didn’t take it well, and they decided to confront him directly, trying to convince him to participate to the tournament; soon, they started mocking him as a coward. The traumas of the war came back at once to Randall, and he snapped out at his would-be opponents, ending up killing the Crane Champion from the city of K’un-Zi. Horrified by what he had done, Iron Fist escaped from K’un-Lun, but he took along the History of the Iron Fists, the book in which there were written the lives of all his predecessors, as well as all the secrets of the martial arts performed by them (he wanted to interrupt the birth of the Living Weapons). Obviously, K’un-Lun couldn’t forgive something like that, so Lei-Kung was sent after him to execute the death penalty on him…but when his master and mentor found him, Orson was dulled by drugs and alcohol, a living wraith of a man. Not wanting to beat a dead horse, Lei-Kung decided to spare his broken student, and came back to K’un-Lun claiming he had killed Orson. From that moment, the former Iron Fist was free from every bond with the city that had nurtured him. He became an adventurer, and he was even followed by a personal biographer, Ernst Erskine, whom he started calling Lucky Pierre and who accompanied him in his many adventures. He still disliked violence, but he understood that sometimes it was simply necessary to use it: he came back to the ongoing war, and he joined forces with other masked heroes: Union Jack, Phantom Eagle, Crimson Cavalier and Sir Steel formed with him the Freedom’s Five, and together they even repelled an alien invasion. When the war was over, Orson Randall formed with Lucky Pierre the Confederates of the Curious, continuing to travel the world and to embark in desperate missions nobody else was able to accomplish. While in Nepal during one of these adventures, Orson was saved by some attackers by a young American orphan, Wendell, who started following him: Orson took him in, making him his ward and training him in martial arts. Even if he didn’t realise this yet, the cycle of the Iron Fist had just started again…

Orson Randall is a broken man: he trained all his life to be a human weapon, a perfect warrior, but war exacted quite a toll on him, and he’s now sickened by violence, even if his selfless and protective nature makes him resort to it over and over again. As the Iron Fist, he’s an incredibly accomplished martial artist, who masters all the techniques of his predecessors and who can channel his chi in his fist to make it an indestructible weapon; he can also augment his own physical condition and adapt to any environment, and he can temporarily fuse his mind with another person’s one to share memories, thoughts and feelings; he’s also an excellent marksman, and his father’s fortune puts at his disposal a variety of futuristic gadgets and vehicles. An Iron Fist erased from history, Orson Randall is a man who seeks a new path after forsaking his intended one, trying to make the hero within himself emerge from the clouds of opium he desperately tries to bury him in…

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3 Comments

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