Oct 23, 2012

Top Iron Man Story Arcs featuring The Mandarin

With all the buzz generated from the first look of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, I have decided to list the best Mandarin focused story lines from the 50 years of Iron Man Comics! Let's dive right in!

Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in the upcoming Iron Man 3
 The first and foremost bit of knowledge needed is why exactly the Mandarin is considered to be Iron Man's quintessential villain. First up, he is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, so war is in his blood. He is also a martial arts expert, matched only by the Iron Fist. But that is only where his tenacity comes from. His real power comes from ten alien forged mystical rings. As long as Mandarin is wearing these rings, his powers are near limitless. It has also been recently revealed that each ring is its own separate alien consciousness. Yikes! Let's dive into the stories though!

Tales of Suspense #50: First Appearance
Tales of Suspense #50
I miss the Golden Age some times. You don't get crazy convoluted arcs that require a wealth of canon, and often retcons, to understand. Granted because of this most of these issues feel like simple one shots and don't really offer anything as far as character depth, but I digress. This issue shows the first appearance of the Mandarin, a clever kung fu master mind who has trapped Iron Man in a castle like labyrinth. Pretty basic and to the point, but a fun adventure none the less, focusing more on Iron Man's whit and problem solving skills rather than how he utilizes his suit to defeat his enemies.

Tales of Suspense #55: The Search for Stark
Not to be outdone, the Mandarin captures Tony Stark, only to find him vanish while Iron Man wrecks havoc to foil his plans to steal a missile. Remember, Iron Man being publicly outed as Tony Stark didn't happen until the early career of Brian Micheal Bendis. Once again, the Golden Age doesn't disappoint. But what can you expect? It was Stan Lee at his greatest!
Tales of Suspense #55

Iron Man - Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #21 - #26: Prometheus
Iron Man Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #26
The Mandarin is a CEO of a company called Prometheus developing new technology and eliminating key political officials and anyone else who gets into the Mandarin's way. Because the loss of his hands during a previous battle with Iron Man, the Mandarin decides to pierce his spine and graft his magical ten rings into his spinal cord. Iron Man discovers the plot to little to late though, as not only has the Mandarin grafted all of his rings into his body, but he has also injected himself with a strain of Extremis as well! Not content to stop there, Mandarin has weaponized Extremis into aerosol form and is planning to release it among the world.

Invincible Iron Man #500
Invincible Iron Man #500
Another look back to Golden Age style story telling with a story contained in one single over sized issue. This issue takes place in an alternate future in which Tony Stark has become a slave to the Mandarin, the dictator of the world. Tony isn't to be outdone though with his off spring leading a small resistance against the tyrant with the hopes of an aging Tony Stark being able to break free of the Mandarin's control one last time to save the day.

Invincible Iron Man #521 - #526: The Future
Invincible Iron Man #525
The harrowing future presented in Invincible Iron Man #500 is close to becoming a reality and Tony Stark must ally himself with his most fearsome foes, like Ezekiel Stane (son of Obadiah Stane), Blizzard, and the Living Laser. The Mandarin places a bomb in Tony's chest and forces him to make machines of mass destruction, but Tony leads an uprising using all of Mandarin's allies against him, simply because once Mandarin is done achieving his goals of world domination, he would just detonate the bombs in the chests of everyone who could stop him. Then the truth is revealed, Tony Stark was building bodies for Mandarin's Ten Rings and must face off against all ten behemoths and the Mandarin himself!