The Mandarin to be Revealed

The Mandarin to be Revealed

The Mandarin has plagued Iron Man’s career almost since its very beginning. But in all that time, the villain has maintained a veil of secrecy over his true origins.

But now, writer Matt Fraction and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico get to the truth of the matter in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1, hitting comic shops and the iTunes app store simultaneously on June 30.

Fraction, who has plans for the Mandarin stretching far past the extra-sized Annual, says he’s always been attracted to the villain’s “complexity, and his mastery of his own myth. He’s a bit Keyser Soze in that way-a collection of legends and stories so intertwined and connected that the real truth of the man is known only to him anymore. He’s the boogeyman. He’s the bad idea waiting for you down a dark alley. He is menace personified and the only person alive with the intellect to go toe-to-toe with Tony Stark.”

The Mandarin has long held the position of Iron Man’s arch nemesis, a position he earned as Tony Stark’s twisted opposite.

“Well, historically, he was the Red Menace/Yellow Peril Antithesis to Tony’s All-American Science Hero,” reminds Fraction. “He was Yuri Gagarin to Tony’s John Glenn. Now, as time has moved on we’ve sloughed the more jingoistic, racist, and crude details off the guy but he remains, in his own way, every bit a man of self-invention as Tony Stark. He’s Tony’s opposite number in a lot of ways.” Fraction adds that the Mandarin’s story in this Annual will “grow the character” rather than update him, per se.

“Nothing that we’ve seen published, so far, has been eliminated, unwritten, or undone,” assures the writer. “It’s all been added to, grown, explored, and remixed and told in a way that lets every story that’s ever been told about The Mandarin stand on its own. Without giving away what I hope is the fun of reading the thing, you’ll just have to check the story out to see what I mean, but consider this The Mandarin’s introduction to the modern era. And I hope very much that readers will have a new understanding of who and what The Mandarin is by the story’s end.”

The Annual will help set the stage for upcoming storylines in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN in a number of ways.

“Well, first and foremost, it reintroduces [The Mandarin] and reminds folks who he is and what he’s capable of doing when he sets his mind to it,” says Fraction. “It works as a kind of origin story, but at the same time it’s important to remind everyone that he’s out there, on the edges of Tony’s story. Or maybe he’s at the center of Tony’s story and has been all along. Who can say?”

With the large page count that this Annual provides, the creative team created a story that Fraction feels he couldn’t have told in any other format.

“This is really one of the most complicated stories I’ve ever told-and Carmine and [colorist Matt Wilson’s] art goes above and beyond in the telling-not just in that it’s as long as it is, but that it’s as dense,” promises Fraction. “You’ll see what I mean when you read it. This entire story is a crazy labyrinth. Being allowed to tell it in the pages we needed and in the style we wanted all aided in the telling itself. This is the only way you could tell a crazy story like this, I think; to get as crazy as the story itself, as twisted and layered and as weird as The Mandarin deserves.”

For fans eager to see Fraction’s take on the character, they can also scour through past issues of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN to get a hint as to his future plans.

“This isn’t the first time The Mandarin has appeared in my INVINCIBLE IRON MAN run,” teases the writer. “And what you learn here frames everything that follows. Do not miss this.”

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