Orson Randall was the last Iron Fist before Danny Rand and long thought dead. He fought against the Germans during the first world war and is considered a 'hero' and 'veteran' by some though he thinks of himself as just a survivor of that nightmare. He considers the mantle of the Iron Fist as a curse rather than a gift because of the violence and death that goes with it. He has experience with focusing his Chi into pistols which has sometimes been called Gun-Fu. This feat was pioneered by Wu Ao-Shi the only woman to ever earn the title Iron Fist, Immortal Weapon of K'un-Lun.
Orson Randall was created by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja and first appeared in The Immortal Iron Fist issue 1 (2006).
Mayor Story Arcs
The story of Orson Randall begins in the late 19th century with a mechanical genius named Phineas Randall who created technology right out of the stories of Jules Verne. With a massive airship Phineas traveled the world but crashed into the mythical city of K'un-Lun the one day that it appeared on Earth each decade. One of the people injured in the crash was Phineas' wife who was eight months pregnant, the healers did what they could to save her but she died giving birth to a son they named Orson. Phineas believed that with his science he could pierce the dimensional walls between K'un-Lun and Earth so that its citizens could come and go as they pleased. It was possible to travel to Earth through mystic means but it would never go unnoticed by Yu-Ti, the Dragon Kings and the Gods of K'un-Lun. Nu-An, the son of Yu-Ti the ruler of K'un-Lun was intrigued by this idea and paid Phineas to build his gateway and keep it secret. With the gold he was paid to create the gateway between Earth and K'un-Lun Phineas created his Empire of Theoretical Science.
All the while Orson was left in K'un-Lun to train with Lei Kung the Thunderer an immortal who was the greatest martial artist in a city of martial artists. When Orson came of age he defeated the Shou-Lao the Undying to become Iron Fist, the immortal weapon of K'un-Lun. Like many other Iron Fists Orson went to Earth but while he was there he witnessed so many atrocities and so much death during the first World War that he would only fight when necessary. Returning to K'un-Lun after ten years on Earth it was obvious that Orson had changed he had begun drinking heavily and smoking opium to forget the horrors of war. He took the book of the Iron Fists from K'un-Lun in the hopes that without it there wouldn't be another Iron Fist to follow him. Eventually he was called to fight in the 'Tournament of the Heavenly Cities' but refused so the six other immortal weapons were sent to make him join the tournament or relinquish the golden Chi of Shou-Lao. Orson instinctively lashed out and accidentally killed the immortal weapon of the city of K'un-Zi. Lei Kung was next sent to kill his former student but when he saw the state Orson was in from alcohol and opium he returned to K'un-Lun saying it was done.
Orson would soon find himself in Nepal where his life would be saved by an orphaned American child named Wendell. He took the boy in as his ward and raised him like a son teaching him how to fight and telling him stories of K'un-Lun where he had grown up. Along with their allies; the Confederates of the Curious, they traveled the world finding adventure using Orson's father's money and technology. Wendell wanted to be the next Iron Fist like his mentor but Orson got angry whenever Wendell brought it up and told him that Shou-Lao would kill him if he ever tried. After a mission Orson left an injured Wendell behind after he had been shot. Finding his mentor abandoned him Wendell decided to find K'un-Lun and become the Iron Fist to spite his former mentor. Orson dove more into the world of opium which effectively cloaked his Chi from Ch'i-Lin the demon that killed most of the previous Iron Fists at the age of 33.
Wendell spent 10 years in K'un-Lun and earned the right to face Shou-Lao but turned away from K'un-Lun before facing the dragon uncertain that it was his destiny. Angry at his mentor for putting doubts in his mind Wendell planned on killing Orson but seeing him drugged out of his mind on opium turned his anger to pity. Orson explained that he didn't want Wendell to have the life of violence of the Iron Fist, he sensed it wasn't his destiny, it would however be his destiny to father a great Iron Fist. The world believed Orson to be dead and he had willed everything to Wendell who used that money to build Rand-Meachum Inc and meet Heather Duncan who would give birth to Danny Rand. Living in an opium induced haze Orson was unheard of until the 'Tournament of the Heavenly Cities' was scheduled to occur again. Davos, the Steel Serpent had become the new immortal weapon of K'un-Zi at the behest of the Crane Mother who wanted revenge against Orson for killing her last immortal weapon.
A New Legacy
Crane mother sent her female servants to Thailand to find Orson Randall but he was able to beat them despite the opium haze he was under. Deciding he needed to speak with Danny he traveled to New York but was attacked by servants of Davos and Crane Mother. To defend himself Orson had to use the Iron Fist technique against his attackers which Danny sensed and felt was an attack against him. Danny tried to track down this person who was also using the Chi of Shou-Lao but Orson tracked Danny down first and faced him. Knowing that this man was using his Chi Danny attacked but Orson surprised him by holding him off and telling him about Danny's father. Together Orson brought Danny to one of Phineas Randall's pneumatic subway stations and showed him the book of the Iron Fist but they were immediately attacked by soldiers of Hydra. Hydra was working with Davos, Crane Mother and a man named Xao to destroy Danny Rand, and usurp his company. After dealing with Hydra Orson told Danny a bit about his life including why Crane Mother wished to destroy him, killing her immortal weapon, and refusing to fight in the last 'Tournament of the Heavenly Cities'.
Death of a Legend
On their way back to Rand Corporate Headquarters they found it swarming with Hydra agents, Crane Mother's servants and Davos. Using the life-force from Crane Mother's servants Davos was able to gain the advantage against both Danny and Orson. Orson fought Davos knowing he couldn't win but Luke Cage arrived in time to give them some relief. Sacrificed himself Orson was critically injured and told Danny to take his Chi because it would be the only way to beat Davos. Danny plunged his hands into Orson's chest absorbing his Chi like he had from the molten heart of Shou-Lao to become the Iron Fist in the first place. It was a surprise to Davos that Danny was able to hold his own and seeing that he couldn't win Davos fled. Immediately thereafter Danny was summoned by Lei-Kung and Yu-Ti to take part in the 'Tournament of the Heavenly Cities'. Danny did not even have the chance to bury the man who could be considered his grandfather.