AVENGERS #7 gave us our first in-depth look into one of the prehistoric Avengers. We got to learn a thing or a few about the first Ghost Rider, who epically rode into battle on a freaking woolly mammoth. In AVENGERS #13, writer Jason Aaron takes us back once again to learn the origins of the very first Iron Fist.

Aaron’s prehistoric Ghost Rider tale was highly enjoyable, balancing a unique origin story with impactful storytelling. AVENGERS #13 is much the same. In fact, it’s probably better. Aaron takes a much more tragic route with the first Iron Fist’s story to great effect.

Renowned artist Andrea Sorrentino joins Aaron for AVENGERS #13, and he completely nails this tale. His pages, coupled with colors from Justin Ponsor and Erick Arciniega, are truly a sight to behold.

Fan Fei: The First Iron Fist

Immediately, AVENGERS #13 introduces us to the familiar ancient city of K’un-Lun. We’re also introduced to Fan Fei, a woman on trial for teaching martial arts to cavemen. She, and those she taught, are sentenced to death, and are sent into the cave where the dragon Shou-Lao (not yet known as the Undying) dwells. And though her cavemen companions meet gruesome ends, Fan Fei dares to fight against her impending death. Of course, she kills the dragon, taking on the curse of the Iron Fist.

Exiled, Fan Fei roams the Earth, defending weak cavemen tribes from savage beasts and gorilla men. Her power is seemingly unrivaled. And, much like Ghost Rider, she is eventually accosted by a slithery figure. Mephisto tries to make Iron Fist’s acquaintance, but Fan Fei easily recognizes the serpent as a demon. She rejects his companionship, and so he finds himself a new friend.

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AVENGERS #13 page 6. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Iron Fist faces and defeats the Gorgilla Clan (no, that’s not a typo for gorilla). Mephisto takes their leader, an ape wielding a club made of diamond, to the Power Stone. Iron Fist fights this empowered king ape, and essentially loses.

After some time, though, K’un-Lun reemerges on Earth. Fan Fei is offered a chance to return home, but only if she acts as the city’s defender. She declines, choosing to remain on Earth, as she believes there is still more good to be done there. Little does she know what adventures are yet to come.

AVENGERS #13 Tells a Tragic Tale

I honestly can’t believe Jason Aaron hooked me on not one, but two of these prehistoric Avengers stories. But whereas AVENGERS #7 was a bit more aloof and free-spirited, AVENGERS #13 is far more tragic. This is an appropriately dark story.

Fan Fei is a tragic hero. Aaron portrays the Iron Fist not as a gift, but as a curse. Fan Fei is cast out for trying to do the right thing. We are reminded over and over again that this time period is not an age of heroes, but of suffering and “hell on Earth.” Bloody battles and deaths litter the pages of AVENGERS #13.

The Iron Fist is a beacon of hope amongst all that pain and despair. She was one of the first heroes the world would ever know. Soft-spoken as she is, she’s somewhat cocky and unafraid of dying in defense of the weak. Between her and Ghost Rider, Fan Fei definitely has my vote as the best prehistoric Avenger. Though, of course, we still have yet to learn of the others, the Iron Fist makes a good case to stay at the top of my list.

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AVENGERS #13 page 11. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I’m also now very curious as to why the hell (no pun intended) Mephisto is creeping around the prehistoric Marvel Universe. Might we be seeing him sometime in the present-day story, I wonder.

I’m also now patiently awaiting Danny Rand’s induction into the present-day team of Avengers. Unless Iron Man is meant to take the place of Iron Fist? Which is okay, I guess. Eh, I still say get Danny back into the Avengers fold.

The Perfect Guest Artist

I’ve always gone back and forth between enjoying and feeling underwhelmed by Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork. He has such a great way of accentuating specific pieces on his pages, and depicting broad, beautiful scenes. But his character work always leaves something to be desired. I mean, come on, all his male characters look exactly the same, structurally speaking.

Luckily, AVENGERS #13 focuses on a female protagonist. Thus, Sorrentino was clearly able to have a bit more fun working with Fan Fei’s character design. She looks awesome! Although, I have to wonder why she thought a lack of clothing would be appropriate in a frigid, snowbound environment.

Disregarding that silly gripe, Fan Fei is an absolute badass. She kicks some major ass as she paints Sorrentino’s pages with blood and teeth. The colors from Ponsor and Arciniega only help to highlight these expertly-crafted fight sequences. The battle between Iron Fist and the Power-Stone-fueled Gorgilla King is truly epic. Makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing more of those pesky stones down the line.

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AVENGERS #13 page 24. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Although… Hey, wait, if this is prehistoric Marvel, shouldn’t the Power Gem have been red? It became purple as part of the Marvel Legacy. What manner of trickery is this, hmm?

I kid, of course. Anyway, Mephisto looks equally impressive; his simple snake design demands your attention at all times. Him, Shou-Lao, and the Gorgilla King all look great. But Iron Fist is still definitely the best-looking of the bunch. AVENGERS #13 is a testament to Andrea Sorrentino’s impressive artistic talent. This is easily some of his best work to date.

Which Prehistoric Hero is Next?

AVENGERS #13 ends on a high note, with Fan Fei looking to the future as one of Earth’s protectors. She has no clue what kind of trouble she’ll be getting into down the line with the other heroes, but I’m sure we’ll get to learn a thing or two about that later on. All I know is that I’m giddy just thinking about which prehistoric Avenger we’ll see next.

Jason Aaron totally knocked AVENGERS #13 out of the park. It’s a completely different story than the one he told in AVENGERS #7, yet remains just as powerful, if not more so. Though I’m typically cautious of flashback issues like these, Aaron’s pitch-perfect storytelling has me 100% hooked at this point. We need more stories like this.

And Sorrentino, Ponsor, and Arciniega were the perfect team to bring this story to life. In this tragically dark world, you need an equally dark artistic style to capture everything. This was undoubtedly the right team for the job.

With yet another prehistoric adventure in the books, we’ve now got some vampire shenanigans to look forward to. That’s got me pretty excited, too. Here’s hoping Aaron keeps delivering the goods!

AVENGERS #13 by Jason Aaron, Andrea Sorrentino, Justin Ponsor, and Erick Arciniega
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
AVENGERS #13 succeeds in its depiction of a uniquely tragic origin story. Aaron's storytelling is masterful, and I'm absolutely hooked now on these prehistoric Avenger stories. And Andrea Sorrentino completely nails the artistic side of things. Don't miss this issue.
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A Masterfully Tragic Origin

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