The Mandarin continues to move his pieces into place in the newest issue of The Invincible Iron Man.
Invincible Iron Man #522
The Mandarin’s army of suped up Iron Man rogues are sent out to different places around the world to gather items for Tony Stark to finish the Titanomechs. When the rogues attack Vancouver, Iron Man comes to defend, but quickly finds himself wrapped up by Sasha Hammer and her Detroit Steel Corps. Soon, Pepper arrives as Rescue and before she’s able to apprehend the new Iron Man, Rhodey is able to escape. Back in Mandarin City, Tony finishes an operation on Ezekiel Stane to free the former adversary from Mandarin’s bombs and control and allows them to get back to work on the Titanomechs that will be their vessels of war against Tony’s greatest foe ever.
What I’ve enjoyed so much more in this arc compared to the last is how evenly weighed it is among all its story threads. The last arc started to degrade into a bit of a mess when so many stories that really did mean something to the whole of Stark’s heroic legacy just fell flat as a whole. That one might work better as an arc you read in tread or all at once, but in the monthly format, it lacked big time.
This arc seemed much more focused. Sure there are some other things going on. The new Iron Man is still out there trying to clean up some of the attacks by the Mandarin’s army. Sasha Hammer seems to no longer mind looking like some insane-o freak in purple (typically a color associated with villains) armor. However, Matt Fraction has brought the back to being more about Mandarin and Stark. In this issue in particular, more focus is drawn to the scene in which Mandarin explains what his rings are to Stark. While I’m not entirely certain if we are to believe the story the Mandarin told, as it would go against some fairly well established canon dating back nearly a half century, it does play to how far gone he may be in his quest to finally topple Stark and his legacy, or it might just be what Tony quips after Mandarin leaves the room – that it’s just him messing with our hero. Either it was what it was, or just another ruse, that conversation happens right in the middle of the issue and sucks us in.
Not only that, but the ending of the issue was particularly effect – almost as much as that conversation between two old enemies. Not that long ago, Ezekiel Stane was willing to go to quite a far way to kill Stark, now, the two seem to be heading toward a pretty solid partnership to get free from the Mandarin. What’s been interesting about Stane ever since this longer, overreaching arc with the Mandarin began is that he’s really transformed into something different than what we knew him to be before. He knows that Mandarin is on a level of evil that he just can’t hang with. He’s actually attempted to end all this with the Mandarin only for the big bad to make Stane a brain damaged vegetable. Now we’re seeing him working closely with Stark in a way that seems way more friendly than two adversaries trying to work together for a common goal. I like where this partnership is seeming to lead.
Overall, this arc is so much stronger than the last and we’re only two issues in. There’s still a lot more to see, but I’m definitely on board to see what happens next!
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Nice focus on the whole Stark in Mandarin City story. Like what’s going on with the Ezekiel Stane arc. Great art as usual from Salvador Larroca.||Not sure what to think of Mandarin’s explanation of what the rings are, but I’m leaving an open mind to that just being a ruse.|
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