" Co-writing with Matt [Fraction] on [The Immortal Iron Fist] was pretty close to how Greg and I did it, at first. And Iron Fist was a book I had been really wanting to write. And Marvel wouldn’t let me write it because I had too much on my plate, so they said if I wanted to do it, I had to bring on a co-writer. And Matt was just getting in at Marvel, and I thought, “Well, I’ll do it with Matt, then.” Because he was doing Punisher, and I know he was looking to do more comic stuff, and we were already friends. It seemed like he would have the right sensibility, so I asked him if he wanted to do it, and he did. And I kind of had bits and pieces of the first Iron Fist arc already figured out, and Matt had a lot of ideas about these women who would turn into cranes, and these villains who wanted maglev trains, and all this stuff that ended up becoming a three-arc-long storyline. So we kind of integrated.
I wanted to do a story about the guy who was the Iron Fist before Danny Rand. That was the thing that always bugged me about Iron Fist. The thought that Danny Rand was the only one, somehow. Yet they had this costume, and this legend of this person who would be the Immortal Iron Fist. I’m like, “Well, these guys are all a thousand years old, and they have this Immortal Iron Fist costume sitting there. There had to have been previous Iron Fists.”
That was my main thought on that. “Okay, well, we need to do a story on the previous Iron Fist, who, it turns out, didn’t actually die.” And so Matt and I plotted out the first six issues pretty tightly together. And for the first issue, we divided it up pretty evenly. And then once it was done and lettered and everything, we did a pretty major polish over the lettering, because we had just written too much stuff. I think we were both trying too hard to make sure it was… You’d have to see the non-published version and compare it to the published version. We made some mistakes that you can make when you’re co-writing, where you each accidentally write some similar stuff.
But for the most part, it went pretty smoothly. And after the first arc, and even toward the end of the first arc, Marvel was really pushing me to step away, and Matt didn’t really need me so much. So I was co-plotting, and then I would pick certain seasons to write or rewrite. And all the way through issue 14, from that point on, Matt always wrote the first draft, and then I would go in and tweak stuff or rewrite a few scenes. Certain stuff, I would just take. And when Matt’s first kid was born, there was an issue where we divided up the scenes, and I wrote half and he wrote half, and then I sort of polished everything and made it all fit together perfectly. Because that’s the thing about co-writing: When you do break up the scenes, when you put them all together… Like with Greg and I, we’d plop a thing out, and then we’d have the beat-by-beat outline, and we’d kind of race to see who could finish their half first. And if you finished your half last, you had to be the one to make all the scene transitions look good. [Laughs.] So whoever finished last got to do the cleanup.
"I think the issue of Iron Fist I’m the most proud of is the one I didn’t have anything to do with at all. It was Matt’s last issue and [David] Aja’s last issue. It was the epilogue issue. The one that ends with Danny’s birthday. I just love that issue so much. It was everything I always wanted the Iron Fistcomic to be, and I didn’t have anything to do with it other than reading the script and going, “Hey, great job!”
That was an odd thing, because I always worried that Matt felt like people were giving me too much credit, but at the same time, I felt like, “Well, I want some credit.” Because I did work on stuff. That can be a problem with co-writing. I was a much bigger name than Matt at the time. And reviewers would credit me with something he’d written. What was weird was, working with someone like Matt, who has a really good sense of humor, and would write really oddball dialogue sometimes, that will bring out that part in you when you’re working with him. So there were specific lines of dialogue where I remember reading reviews where someone was like, “That’s such a Fraction line of dialogue,” and I’m like, “I wrote that.” [Laughs.] So it’s kind of funny. Yeah, co-writing is a really mixed bag. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun. And sometimes working with another writer, like someone like Matt, especially… I had a couple of ideas of what I wanted the Iron Fist comics to be when we first started, but I think it became a much more exciting, kinetic kind of thing, because Matt’s energy brought that to it.
And Matt was still really learning—I think at that point he had written two or three issues ofPunisher—but he was still really learning the constraints of the 22-pages-a-month Marvel comic, and how much you could or couldn’t do. So he was trying to do so much within it, and a lot of what I was doing was cutting this or cutting that, but because of that, it gave us comics that I think had a different kind of energy than a lot of stuff that was on the stands. And he and I both really loved the idea of this previous Iron Fist, who then allowed us to bring in new pulp-universe kinds of characters.
So our sensibilities are really lined up on a lot of that stuff. It’s like being in a writing room, sometimes. When you’re co-writing with someone, it can feel like a hassle, and sometimes it totally just makes the story better. Same as having a good editor. Sometimes you’re stuck on something and you call your editor up and you tell him what you’re stuck on, and you kick some ideas around. Even if they don’t give you the idea, the kicking-the-ideas-around-with-them part sort of gives you the idea somehow. It’s like House and Wilson. Wilson always helps House whether he means to or not. "