Marvel Comics has been teasing the identity of the new Iron Fist that will take Danny Rand's place in the mantle come February, and this week's Death of Doctor Strange: White Fox by upcoming Iron Fist writer Alyssa Wong and artists Andie Tong, Luciano Vecchio, and Arif Prianto all but confirms that the new Iron Fist is a hero we already know, and exactly who Newsarama has been expecting it to be: Sword Master.
You can read up on Marvel's previous clues that Lin Lie, the Sword Master, will take over as Iron Fist below. But now, Marvel isn't even playing the events of the White Fox one-shot close to its chest, issuing a PR that shows a critical page of the issue (seen above) with the text "Sword Master no more!"
Spoilers ahead for Death of Doctor Strange: White Fox
In Death of Doctor Strange: White Fox, Sword Master and White Fox team up to fight a Kumiho, one of the same species of mythical fox demons White Fox herself is a part of, who has become possessed by Lin Lie's ancestral enemy Chiyou, the very enemy the Sword which Lin Lie carries was designed to fight.
Faced with the true power of his destined foe, Lin Lie strikes out - but the Sword of Fu Xi is shattered, as implied by the previous Iron Fist teasers. Lin Lie is thrown from a cliff, seemingly to his death, though no trace of him can be found, even through magical means.
If the shattered sword isn't enough to connect Lin Lie to the Iron Fist teasers, he and White Fox share a moment just before his death in which she tells him "Heroism isn't an identity - it's a process. And for what it's worth, I think you're doing a good job."
Seems like Wong directly foreshadows Lin Lie taking on the new heroic identity of Iron Fist when Iron Fist #1 arrives on February 16.
Original story follows...
There's a new Iron Fist coming to Marvel Comics, with the original bearer of the mantle, Danny Rand, retiring as a superhero (though he might just become the new Iron Fist's mentor). Marvel's making a big deal of the new Iron Fist, who debuts in a five-issue limited series starting in 2022 - including turning the new hero's still-unrevealed secret identity into a key aspect of their marketing for the series.
But Marvel's very first teaser for the new Iron Fist, the one which pays homage to the classic 'Spider-Man No More!' page from Amazing Spider-Man #50 featuring Danny Rand abandoning his costume, may actually contain a vital clue as to the identity of the new Iron Fist - and it's definitely a hero Marvel fans know, though not yet particularly intimately.
Looking closely at the teaser, along with the abandoned Iron Fist costume, the trash can and surrounding area are littered with the green shards of a shattered object - shards which bear a striking resemblance to the blade wielded by recently introduced Marvel hero Sword Master.
For the unfamiliar, Sword Master is a Chinese hero who debuted in Marvel's 2018 Chinese language title Warriors of the Three Sovereigns before branching into his own Sword Master title and eventually joining the revamped Agents of Atlas, and who has played a role in several Marvel crossovers, most notably 2020's King in Black event.
Real name Lin Lie, Sword Master is a skilled martial artist who studied under none other than Shang-Chi, and who wields the Sword of Fu Xi, a magical blade with dark power which is said to have been forged in a star - and which, in the right hands, may have the power to destroy the Earth.
Interestingly enough, Wong may be hinting at Lin Lie/Sword Master being the new Iron Fist herself, potentially referring to his training under Shang-Chi in a new interview.
"[The new Iron Fist] has also been trained by several different people, including some familiar faces," Wong tells IGN. "His fighting style is influenced by them."
If that is Sword Master's blade shattered on the ground alongside Danny's abandoned costume, that could be a strong indicator that Lin Lie will become the new Iron Fist. And what's more, the possible broken blade isn't the only clue that Lin Lie may take up the mantle. Marvel's announcement of the new Iron Fist states that there may be a larger mystery around the new Iron Fist beyond his secret identity - specifically the nature of his powers.
Traditionally, the bearer of the Iron Fist mantle gets their power by plunging their fists into the molten heart of the dragon known as Shu-Lao the Undying, creating a connection between the dragon's magic and the Iron Fist themself. But Marvel's announcement indicates that the new Iron Fist may get his powers from a different source - "something far more sinister," according to the text of the release.
The power of the Sword of Fu Xi would certainly qualify - its origins may be somewhat obscure, but its nature as a weapon of great destructive power with ties to the Chinese war god Chiyou, and even Knull, the former god of the Symbiotes aren't. If the sword is destroyed and Lin Lie absorbs its magic, that could easily qualify as a new source of power for the Iron Fist.
There are also a few demonic-looking creatures hiding in the 'Iron Fist No More!' image, with one of their faces in the window of the apartment building, and a claw reaching down over the can where Danny left his costume. Those creatures, in fact, appear to be the demon warriors of Sword Master's enemy Chiyou, as depicted in Sword Master's own title.
What's more, writer Alyssa Wong is already planning to include Sword Master in another title leading up to the new Iron Fist title, with a planned cameo for him in Death of Doctor Strange: White Fox. With Death of Doctor Strange changing the magical landscape of the Marvel Universe overall, it's entirely possible that the White Fox tie-in could establish the next step of Sword Master's journey, perhaps even showing how his sword could be shattered.
Establishing Lin Lie as the new Iron Fist would make sense for Marvel on a few levels. For one thing, it lets the publisher give one of its rising stars an upgrade and a higher profile by associating Lin Lie with the Iron Fist mantle.
And for another, it allows Marvel to address the scrutiny Iron Fist has been under in recent years as an example of the 'white savior' trope, in which a white hero supplants a non-white person as a leading cultural figure or as a representative of an exoticized culture, potentially by placing a character of Chinese heritage in the role.
In other words, making Sword Master the new Iron Fist would check a few boxes - making some sense both on and off the page - and Marvel may be about to do exactly that when Iron Fist #1 drops on February 16, 2022.
For the record, we asked Marvel straight out if the new Iron Fist is Lin Lie, but as of the publication of this article, we haven't heard back.
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