Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin TPB

Joe Casey was pumping out the Iron Man series a few years ago, and I just now got around to checking out his Mandarin series. Quick question, this isn’t Temugin’s first appearance, is it? I know he showed up in Agents of Atlas, but I can’t figure out where else I know him from.

Casey re-tells the first few encounters between Tony Stark and the Mandarin, mixing in a liberal dose of Chinese politics and policies from Stark Enterprises. There are some neat bureaucratic elements, as Casey takes the time to give his supporting SHIELD characters some sweet lines.

Casey’s Mandarin is one egomaniacal dude. He spends half the book spouting off on how great things will be once he’s in charge, and the other half handing out pretty huge beatdowns. Heck, even in Iron Man’s rematch, Mandarin comes close to coming out on top. (At best, the fight is a draw.) There is no doubt that Mandarin is one of Iron Man’s most powerful enemies, but combining that power with an indomitable will like this makes him pretty scary.

Casey always finds interesting partners to work with on his projects, and Eric Canete is no exception. I’m not usually a big fan of Canete’s work; in a normal setting, his angular faces and penchant for over-doing technology don’t always work. However, with this finite series, that style works well. Even more organic foes like the Scarecrow look pretty spooky under his pencil. And of course, Mandarin’s rings and Iron Man’s armor look great, almost steam-punk in their design.


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