Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Eric Canete
Published by: Marvel Comics
Iím putting a great deal of faith into the forthcoming Iron Man film. The reason behind this is because I know what Marvel Studios is capable of, where they want to go and how they want to go about it. I also feel like Iron Man will be the first comic book movie since Batman Begins and, in my opinion, only the second movie after that one to stay true to a comic book incarnation of a superhero. A lot of this comes from the fact that Marvel Studios is independently producing this film. There is no studio influence, there are no Hollywood executives explaining how they feel the project should go and there is no parent company that wants to cash in on beloved characters deserving of their own individual films. Iron Man and later, The Incredible Hulk, could possibly change the way superhero movies are done with Warner and DCís only defense being The Dark Knight.. Regardless of that discussion, thereís an Iron Man mini-series that definitely feels cinematic, it definitely holds a lot of the qualities of a film and it hit shelves this past week. I am referring to Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin.
To briefly recap my feelings about this series, the first issue seemed very stock. There wasnít much new that was presented and it felt like it was going to play out like a classic good guy vs. bad guy fight. Seeing as how it was supposed to be the first time Iron Man goes toe-to-toe with the Mandarin only made it seem like a stock story because one could surmise how it ends. However, the second issue changed this perception as the Mandarin beats down Iron Man and what follows is the beginning of a fantastic tale involving technology vs. mysticism complete with industrial espionage. This is perfect as an early Iron Man story, especially since Joe Casey has set this story in a time frame that fits anywhere in the past ten years.
I really want to try and avoid regurgitating how great this series is in terms of adding a deeper element to the Iron Man/Mandarin initial encounter. However, this issue does expand a bit further on the way that the Mandarin feels about Iron Man and Tony Stark. But Joe Casey also does a fantastic job grabbing the readerís attention, or mine at least, by opening the third issue with a great action sequence between Iron Man and the Mandarinís spy, Scarecrow. This is the second issue in a row that Casey has opened with an action sequence and I really think more writers should try this approach to grab the readerís attention.
The key story element that really works out well for this series is the way that the Mandarin/Tony Stark rivalry is being built. The Mandarin has only encountered Starkís ďbodyguardĒ thus far, but Tony Stark represents everything the Mandarin is against. The Mandarin possesses mystical energies and is hell-bent on dominating China and the world in an ancient sort of way. However, Tony Stark represents the modern world, globalization, industrialization and technological advancement. Starkís war machines seem to frighten the Mandarin, but only enough to motivate the Mandarin to find out everything he can about them, even using his own son to infiltrate Stark Industries.
The chess match the Mandarin is playing with Stark is truly a highlight of this series. The Mandarin is methodically making his moves while Tony seems completely oblivious. One aspect of this issue that really baffled me what the angle with the Crimson Dynamo. I understand that Vanko wanted to test a weapon in battlefield conditions, and I get that the Crimson Dynamo attacks Stark Industries, but there is some confusion in regards to what actually takes place. I was under the assumption that Vanko and Tony set up the Crimson Dynamo attack, it seemed staged, they spoke about it, but the one thing that really confuses me is why Vanko dies. Itís very strange and thereís little explanation behind it, but itís mostly because I am confused. Either way it acts as a decent plot device to get the Mandarinís son into Tonyís office.
Overall this is shaping up to be a pretty good mini-series. Joe Casey has done an excellent job modernizing and expanding on the first meeting between Iron Man and the Mandarin. Also, Eric Caneteís artwork continues to be a great fit for this title. His style is very unique and it fits very well with Caseyís action and story. Canete seems like he would be a great artist for a war-centric title along the lines of Sgt. Rock.
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