IRON MAN: ENTER THE MANDARIN #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Eric Canete
Inker: Dave Stewart
The Mandarin has, believe it or not, been around in the Marvel Universe since 1964. So, to see a comic in 2007 where someone asks Tony Stark if he’s ever heard of The Mandarin, and his response is, “The who?” is, to put it mildly, a bit jarring.
This is, of course, an origin story (not too suprising, considering the scheduled release of the Iron Man movie next year). However, it does assume the reader has some knowledge of the character’s background, including the spaceship and technology of of Axonn-Karr.
That assumption on the part of the writer does handicap the book a bit: it’s understandable that they don’t want to waste too much time on exposition and filling in details that any serious fan of Iron Man already knows. On the other hand, not even giving a year for the setting of the main portion of the story is somewhat inexcusable.
However, the storyline itself is well-paced, even if the dialogue, especially from the Mandarin, comes off as heavy-handed through the entire middle of the book. For most of the story, the Mandarin has two moods: unbearably arrogance, or raging anger (Of course, trying to establish the history of a character with 40 years of background in the space of 3 pages can be somewhat daunting.)
Overall, the artwork is almost disorienting, since the aspect seems to change page-by-page in some cases, and the colors are somewhat muted but effective. This would be a good jumping-off point for someone new to the Iron Man mythos, but if you are unsure, wait for the second book to see if this indeed your style.
Rating: 6 out of 10