close
HomeBlogsBill Williams's blogEd Brisson Is a Comic Writer Worth Reading

Ed Brisson Is a Comic Writer Worth Reading

December 14, 2017 192Views

Bill Williams and Michael Ossowski are back for another comic book discussion. Bill Williams is a comic book writer/penciller/inker/letterer/editor extraordinaire, who has been published by DC Comics, IDW, Ape Entertainment, and more. He’s currently working on the coming-of-age superhero series “Punchline” for ComiXology. Michael Ossowski is a media ecologist and comic book retailer, who runs a late night pirate TV station called “The Black Lodge.” Bill and Michael sat down and talked about Ed Brisson, his work on Iron Fist #75, and several of Brisson’s other comics. To hear the complete discussion, listen to the audio.

 

***

This is Bill Williams with Cheek to Geek talking with Michael Ossowski about all things "Iron Fist," including the new issue Iron Fist #75 written by Ed Brisson. Say howdy.

 

Michael says

Hello world.

 

Bill says

Good plan. So I was a kid in the mid-70s, and I read a lot of these first few “Iron Fist” comics when they came out. He first showed up at Marvel Premiere 15 in the mid-70s. I was reading other comics, and I saw these awesome Gil Kane drawings, and that Marvel Premiere run ran for a few issues. Then he had his own series for a while that saw guys like Roy Thomas and Gil Kane and Larry Hama, Dick Giordano, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne work on the character. Later on Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction did a series about a guy who was a street-level superhero more or less. He's a kid. His parents die, which is a familiar origin story, and then he finds a lost city, learns kung fu, and then leaves kung fu and beats the crap out of people. But the comics were entertaining. The character never really got his own arch enemy like so many other superheroes do. He ended up with Sabretooth almost being an arch enemy for a while before the X-Men steal him away. And that's mostly my understanding of the comics. So I was kind of surprised when he got picked to be one of the Netflix Marvel Universe superheroes. The Marvel Netflix show, you know, they all suffer from the same problem where they've got you know 10 or 13 episodes, and they've got maybe 8 episodes worth of story. So everything's just padded out, and it's pretty obvious in "Iron Fist." So that's where the character is overall. I'd like to put some of that out of mind, and go ahead and talk about the new comic book series. I have not read a lot of Brisson's comics before or if I did they didn't make a big impression on me.

 

Michael says

That's actually my entrance into this is through Ed Brisson. Ed Brisson is known for a book he was doing, I believe online, called "Murder Book" that Darkhorse ended up picking up and publishing. And then last year, he did a book for Image called "The Violent," which I absolutely loved and adored because it's steeped in realism. And you know real issues that that people face every day.

 

Bill says

I haven't seen a whole lot of this work. But you know reading through the first chunk of "Iron Fist" stuff that he did it struck me as very Tarantino-esque. I don't mean it's like "Reservoir Dogs" or like "Pulp Fiction." I mean it's like the bat guano crazy training sequences in "Kill Bill." You got these kinds of elaborate martial arts characters having this big adventures. When his run on “Iron Fist” starts, the character is at kind of a low point, he's losing his mojo, and he's fighting people in these back alley dives.

 

Michael says

I really love that opening issue and actually I kind of wish we would have stayed a little bit more there—a man lost looking for himself. He's coming from K'un-lun being destroyed and he lost all his powers and basically his life as Iron Fist is over. The job of Iron Fist is to be K'un-lun's protector, but that job is over since there's nothing left to protect, and he's lost the sheen that comes with that job. He's trying to figure out how to live life after that, and that to me is compelling and interesting.

 

Bill says

And that's when guys show up and dangle a carrot in front of him. They run this very exclusive martial arts tournament and want him to come out and compete in it. So you've got a bunch of comics where he just goes from little island to island fighting these crazy bad guys, which is awesome. The thing that I like about the “Iron fist” book is they're constantly making up hilarious sounding kung fu ability names.

 

Michael says

The kung fu ability names are great. The Masters himself I absolutely adored. The jumping, holy flaming rabbit guy and the one-armed swordsmen and probably a billion other. There's all sorts of kung fu crippled masters. It's a trope we see often in kung fu. I really like the characters and the characterization in that entire first story arc of most of the supporting cast.

 

Bill says

Yeah. So I'm going to go out and say, “OK, now we're going to start spoiling things.” The guy who's running the tournament has an ulterior motive and that is to steal what's left of Iron Fist's mojo so that he can go back and save K’un-lun because the group in the fight is kind of a lost tribe who had left K'un-lun at some point. So they want to go back and retake their homeland as it were. So the first story arc goes all right and then there's a couple issues where he hangs out with the Master of Kung Fu because the guys who took a beating in the kung fu tournament won't let it go, and they've put out a contract on Iron Fist's head. And that's a fun little couple of issues stretch, and then we get into the story arc that's running now.

 

Michael says

The supernatural elements mixed in with that during the Master of Kung Fu guest appearance, I really liked that. I also liked it because it has an efficiency in storytelling. There was a decent amount of story in only, I believe, two issues.

 

Bill says

There's really that kind of maxim at play there where you get into your scenes late and you leave early so that the only thing that's on the page is the entertaining stuff. Anyway, the current story has Iron Fist and Sabretooth in kind of a buddy cop role. Comic books have been rebooted so many times that Sabretooth can go from being a cannibalistic murdering SOB to "Hey, it's my drinking buddy. It's slightly irritating Sabretooth." And that's kind of what we find now.

 

Michael says

Because we've gotten that Howard Chaykin Avengers back story where there was an Avengers in the 50s that Sabertooth was part of ever so briefly, but that's the beginning of that road where it first got introduced, "Oh maybe Sabretooth's not that bad of a guy."

 

Bill says

Yeah I didn't read any of those things. Actually the sheer volume of stuff that I read is actually pretty small these days. But you know I've got a soft spot in my heart for all the stuff that I've read when I was a kid. I'm reading “Iron Fist” and “Moon Knight” and a few other things. The current story has interesting human stakes in it. Iron Fist comes back from fighting in the tournament and found that somebody stole his “Iron Fist instruction manual” that he can't seem to keep a grip on, and Sabretooth shows up saying that somebody is wearing the Constrictor's old outfit, and Iron Fist was Sabretooth’s buddy and Sabretooth wants to find Constrictor and kill him. And the story takes off from there. it's the two of them wandering around dive bars in Manhattan looking for bad guys and thumping people while they're looking for this missing magic book, which is pretty entertaining. You've got stakes in it, and you've got personality stuff going on right away.

 

Michael says

This seems to me to be a very straight up book, a work for hire book, which is absolutely nothing wrong with it, and to be honest, I'm surprised by how good it is and how much I like it. I don't feel like Ed Bisson really got into what he does best until this arc as he sort of has a background of great crime noir style stuff.

 

Bill says

Yeah there's a pretty strong noir streak through this. You've got a MacGuffin that everybody's chasing. You've got a team of bad guys, and you've got bumbling bad guys stuck in the middle.

 

Michael says

When Ed Brisson started off “Iron Fist,” the very first story arc has almost no humor in it. It's played very close to the vest. It's very dark. And it seems like now there's a buddy element. There can be some humor and some fun and some silliness. He's done a ton of work for Marvel. He's done a slew of work. A lot of guest issues here and there. He seems to do a lot of work for hire, fill in work for Marvel. I know from reading his blog in his newsletter that he really wants to work on "The Violent" again. It only got the first story arc and then got put on hiatus. I guess didn't come back. I believe he tried a kickstarter to recreate that book, because that's the stuff that, of course, he really wants to be doing.

 

Bill says

This is my first real batch of his stuff that I read where I thought, “This is pretty cool.” You know I can see the noir aspects of his work now, and it kind of makes me want to hunt down his earlier stuff because I can't take reading more all the time but I do like a good story from time to time.

 

Michael says

Well, “The Murder Book” is available from Dark Horse, and “The Violent” is a story of people set in gentrifying Vancouver who are struggling to basically hold onto their lives. And in an area that's filled with a tremendous heroin epidemic and a terrible gentrification problem.

 

Bill says

That totally nails Vancouver. I've been there been through there are a few times, and yeah, depending on where you park your car on your way down to the port to get some dinner you may be stop by two or three guys offered you a little something.

 

Michael says

And that's pretty much the plot of the book. It’s a couple. One of them is trying to stay out of jail. One of them is trying to stay off drugs, and they're trying to raise a baby and then that baby girl disappears one night. And how do you make sure to keep your life or you keep child protective services from breathing down your neck? It's an incredibly heartbreaking and real book, yet it's filled with tons of action and intense violence, of course, since it is "The Violent" and a book well worth reading.

 

 

Bill Williams

Bill Williams

Bill Williams has done it all in the comic book industry. Writer, penciller, inker, letterer, editor… you name the job, he’s done it. Bill has been published by DC Comics, IDW, Ape Entertainment, and more. He is currently working on the coming-of-age super-hero series Punchline for comiXology.

Add a comment