OK, so I already copped to my delayed understanding of what Rahne wasn't telling Madrox when she left last week. This week I have to admit a comprehension breach with regards to Immortal Iron Fist. It's not as old, but it's probably more embarrassing.
Immortal Iron Fist just concluded the 8th City of Hell arc. Smack in the middle of it, just after Danny has learned there's another Iron Fist trapped in the city, we have an issue devoted to Li Park, the pacifist Iron Fist. Even though his name was Li Park, and the imprisoned Iron Fist had introduced himself as Quan Yaozu, for some reason I kept thinking Li's story was Quan's.
Never mind that Quan is described as the first Iron Fist, and when Li fights the dragon there are comments that describe how the dragon had been fighting challengers for years, and that Li was the first victor to pass out after the fight. With the former, I think I convinced myself that though people had been challenging the dragon for centuries, nobody had won*. As for the latter, I'm guessing I just glossed over that. Really, what this did was remind me of something I learned with the Brubaker/Fraction run on the title. Namely, that I can make a lot more sense of it when I can read an entire story all at once, rather than one issue a month.
I think there's a couple of reasons I didn't pick up on it until last week, one within the story, one not. The one that's not is that up to this point in the run, Immortal Iron Fist hasn't done one-shots about past Iron Fists in the middle of an arc. The Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay story came in between the conclusion of the "Immortal Iron Fist", and "The Tournament of the Heavens" arcs. The story of Bei Bang-Wen came after "The Tournament of the Heavens" had concluded, before the final Fraction/Aja issue which was kind of a capstone. The story of the Iron Fist of 3099 ran between "The Mortal Iron Fist" and "The 8th City of Hell" stories. The Orson Randall stories all took place in separate one-shots or Annuals. So maybe I figured this was just part of the overall arc.
In story, I think I felt like a pacifist Iron Fist would fit with the story, though the exact arc shifted as the story took surprise turns. A guy who never wanted the title or the power sacrifices himself to save his city, condemning himself to a lifetime of torture at the hands of the beings he's locking up. He bears this, suffers it, because he thinks fighting it would be pointless. Then I thought it could be a story about how after so many years trapped in that miserable place, he'd been driven mad, and would destroy the same city he'd gone into Hell to preserve. Given how K'un-Lun seems to regard Iron Fists as transitory and replacable**, it would be fitting that they'd be bitten in the arse by one of their weapons they'd discarded so carelessly. Especially since his sacrifice, being trapped there with true monsters, was tainted when the Yu-Ti started throwing anyone into Hell he pleased.
Actually, it still seems like the stories fit together. Li Park saved many Chinese peasants by bringing them to K'un-Lun, which in turn helped the Heavenly City whose populace had been ravaged by disease. Now here was an Iron Fist, also returning to the city, and also bringing many people with him, but this time they were people who'd been betrayed by their city, tossed away and forgotten, and so this influx could destroy the city.
* Which ignored the fact that the Shou Lao the Undying was one of the monsters the first Iron Fist had to vanquish to protect K'un-Lun, so obviously at least one Iron Fist had to have beaten it before Li.
** You fight the dragon, inherit the power, use it for awhile, then die and someone else takes the title, on and on, and the citizens probably don't care too much who it is, as long as they have an Iron Fist.