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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
After locating her in a nearby town, the redheaded girl is taken by Yu-Ti to the Temple of the Dragon in K’un Lun where he taunts her into attacking him. She does so but she is clearly untrained and unable to lay a finger on him. However, he can see it in her that she is the new Iron Fist and he asks Lei Kung to hurry her training along. Leonardo da Vinci is brought to K’un Lun and told about the coming of the strange firebird. He enlists Lei Kung’s students in building a huge contraption to monitor the firebird’s approach to Earth. He is then taken to the cave, along with Lei Kung and the girl, to where the dragon Shao Lao resides. Yu-Ti informs him that she will go inside, battle the dragon and, if victorious, emerge as the new Iron Fist. It takes two days of waiting, but sure enough she exits the cave with a glowing hand. She has defeated the dragon.
(Temple of the Dragon of K’un Lun, many years ago)Yu-Ti has taken the redheaded girl back to the temple to begin her training. She stands before Yu-Ti and Lei Kung whilst the other trainees kneel down, their heads bowed. Lei Kung asks her why she does not speak, but she simply looks back at him with her piercing green eyes. “Attack me,” says Yu-Ti. Again, she doesn’t respond, so Yu-Ti says she will not speak so therefore she should act. If she’s angry, then she should be angry. He gives her permission, just this once. The girls stands there looking at him and Yu-Ti taunts her into action, calling her a half-breed runt, ruined by her whore of a mother before she ever took a breath. “She bedded a stranger from the western world then sold you to me for dinner.”
The insults work and the girl lunges at him. Yu-Ti simply moves sideways to evade her and watches her land face first in the ground. The other students laugh but Lei Kung silences them and asks someone to escort ‘this mop’ out of the temple. The girl reaches for the dagger held in his boot and stands, kicking him in the chin before he can react. She lunges at Yu-Ti but once again he moves sideways gracefully. She tries again but he grabs her wrist, forcing her to drop the weapon. He tells her that she is not an animal. She is a noble warrior. She will learn to fight like a warrior and to control her emotions. She will learn to express other parts of herself. It’s up to her whether she does it with a broken hand or not. The girl relaxes and Yu-Ti lets go. He tells Lei Kung that he has his work cut out for him. “May the dragon lord guide your spirit.” He walks away, asking him to hurry as she is the new Iron Fist.
(later)Chan and two companions escort the great Leonardo da Vinci to the immortal city of K’un Lun. Upon his arrival, he is clearly impressed. Inside the compound, Lei Kung is training the girl. She leaps at him athletically, but he tells her it isn’t fast enough. She must go again. Leonardo and Yu-Ti watch from the temple. Leonardo asks her name. “Fonji,” replies Yu-Ti, explaining that they are training her. Leonardo asks to speak with her, but Yu-Ti informs him that she doesn’t speak. He asks if she is a mute, but Yu-Ti admits that he doesn’t know. Lei Kung asks her to get to her feet and get into the tiger claw position. She looks up at her fearsome tutor and kicks out at him. He blocks her attack with his arm. She raises her fist but he reminds her that he said to assume the tiger claw position. She kicks him, and he asks her to show him the position and stop wasting his time. He puts her on her back as Yu-Ti asks Leonardo if he’s hungry after his journey. He pulls out a device and replies that he’d like to watch this and then he’d like to sit with her. He will need some of her blood and urine.
Lei Kung continues to push the girl and she once again ends up face first in the dirt. He repeats that she needs to be faster but, when she looks up, he sees her eyes glowing red. With little thought, she screams and blasts him, sending him tumbling across the compound floor. Leonardo asks if that’s ever happened before. Yu-Ti says it hasn’t. Chan asks what it is. “A warning,” says Leonardo. Yu-Ti says he doesn’t believe so. He believes it may have been a ‘tremor.’ The girl looks up and then faints as her body smolders. Leonardo feels her pulse to make sure she’s okay and tells them to never doubt a prophecy. Leonardo asks what the rest of the men are doing there. Yu-Ti informs him that they are training. Leonardo says that he needs them. Yu-Ti asks to do what. “Build,” replies Leonardo.
(soon)A gigantic machine has been built in the compound. Sitting on a circular platform is a long barrel, perhaps seventy feet long. Leonardo informs Yu-Ti that it would be in their best interests to try and locate the firebird before it lands on them. Maybe they can track it and plot its course. His machine will hopefully give them more than a few moments notice of the great bird’s arrival. There is no doubt in his mind that it is coming to Earth and that they are about to witness a cosmic event. He finds it very exciting, if not for the chance that extinction may be at hand. But, he adds, he feels the master’s prophecy is correct. He thinks that if the girl readies herself, they are about to be visited… not destroyed. It would be a momentous occasion to understand how the creature came to be and what its cosmic connection to their planet might be.
Yu-Ti takes the girl to the scrying pool and tells her that all that is required is that she sit, empty her mind and the water will tell them whether she is worthy. The girl looks into the pool at her reflection, sits back and empties her mind. Before long a sphere of water rises from the pool and they both look into it. An image of space comes into view and then the Phoenix Force fills the picture. The girl’s eyes open wide in shock as she sees the dragon rise to meet the Phoenix. “It is time,” says Yu-Ti.
Yu-Ti, Lei Kung and Leonardo go with the girl to a valley where Yu-Ti tells the girl to go and to be bold. As she walks away towards a cave, Leonardo asks what’s happening. Yu-Ti informs him that this is the ritual of the Iron Fist. She is about to meet the dragon Shao Lao. She will battle the dragon and, if successful, she will be bequeathed the power of the dragon fire; the weapon of the immortal Iron Fist. “And if she doesn’t?” asks Leonardo. “Then maybe you will give it a try,” replies Yu-Ti. “I’m sorry?” asks Leonardo, surprised. Lei Kung tells him that his master is joking. He would die before he even made it inside. He is confident that the girl will come through. It has been foretold. Leonardo thinks about this situation for a moment before asking if there actually is a real dragon in there. Yu-Ti asks if he means as opposed to make believe one.
(two days later)Leonardo and Lei Kung are asleep when Yu-Ti announces that it is done. He stands before the entrance to the cave and watches the girl emerge. Without a word, she smiles and holds out her glowing hand. Her three colleagues are impressed. “Thank you master,” she says. “Thank you.”
(many years ago)FongjiYu-TiLei King and his students
Lenardo da Vinci
(in the scrying pool)The Phoenix Force and the dragon
This is part of the AvX crossover.
Leonardo da Vinci first appeared in Tales of Suspense (1st series) #49 way back in 1964 in ‘The Story of the Sneepers.’ He has been a major character in the recent two SHIELD mini-series.