Title: Invincible Iron Man Annual #1
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: June 30, 2010
Ever since this book launched with the release of the first Iron Man film in 2008, Invincible Iron Man has been one of Marvel’s absolute best titles which comes out on a monthly basis. The creative team of Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca haven’t missed a single issue, and the story telling is leagues beyond what several books call the norm. This week saw the release of this amazing series’ first, in what I hope will be a long line of Annual issues, and also marks the first time that another penciler will have his name on an issue of Invincible Iron Man. Carmine Di Giandomenico joins the fold, and Matt Fraction uses this special opportunity to finally reintroduce one of Iron Man/Tony Stark’s grandest foes, none other than the fiendish Mandarin.
What this issue really postulates is what if Kim Jong Il, the crazy evil dictator of North Korea, somehow kidnapped Oliver Stone (or the Chinese equivalent) and forced him to write and direct a film depicting Kim’s life as seen by Kim and not history? That’s what this issue is. It’s the Mandarin’s story of his own life. The real story of “The Mandarin” is what Mr. Di Giandomenico shows us in the actual pictures. According to The Mandarin, he is a direct descendent of Genghis Khan and was born to a British noble woman and a powerful Chinese man, but the reality is more humble, to say the least. His mother was a drug addled whore while his unknown father was probably just her pimp. The Mandarin sees himself as some kind of noble Robin Hood, but all he really is, is just some murdering street thug who just so happened to find an alien “gauntlet” of power that let him take control of Mandarin city’s underworld.
What this issue did well, in a “tongue-in-cheek” kind of way, was deal with The Mandarin’s convoluted history. Just as the story of Tony Stark’s original creation of his first Iron Man suit has changed over the years to fit the era in which the story is being told, so too has that of the Mandarin. Matt Fraction has used this Annual issue as the new origin story for the Mandarin in the modern comic setting. This couldn’t have come at a better time, as Tony Stark needs someone like the Mandarin, an arch nemesis if you will, to further along the already amazing Invincible Iron Man series, now that Norman Osborn has been dealt with. Also, with a subtle little scene where we see the Mandarin retelling the story of when he visited the camp where Tony Stark was being held captive by terrorists, it kind of ties the comic series into the Iron Man movie series with a possible unknown early meeting between the two characters. Jon Favreau, the director of both Iron Man & Iron Man 2 has stated that if he comes back and does Iron Man 3, he would really like to see the Mandarin as the main villain. This scene ties in perfectly. I really love it when a plan works out for the best J .
Overall, I would say that I really enjoyed this issue. Even though Tony Stark/Iron Man was not a character in this particular story, I applaud Matt Fraction for taking this special issue and using it to further along the grand story that he is attempting to tell with Tony Stark. Universe building is very important, and can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Bravo Mr. Fraction. Now I can’t wait for July’s issue. What did you guys think? Let us know in our comments section below J .