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On The Throne: Porcelain 38 Review's The Invincible Iron Man Annual #1

Written by Steven Harris on Wednesday, June 30 2010 and posted in Reviews

Porcelain38 reviews the first Invincible Iron Man Annual! Why? Because Matt Fraction's evil brain demanded him to do so!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILS: Carmine Di Giandomenico

Solicit: The Mandarin is a collection of lies, stories, myths, and legends. But two things are true: He wears, upon each finger, an alien weapon of unimaginable power...and he's going to kill Tony Stark. Is he a violent street crook born in a brothel? The scion of an aristocratic dynasty? Was his father was a petty criminal or an ambassador? Was his mother a British noblewoman, or maybe a dragon-chasing wastrel lost in the underbelly of the world? He's a murderer, a businessman, an artist, a terrorist, a hero. And this is the story of his life. Rated A ...$4.99

PRICE: 4.99
IN STORES: June 30, 2010


There is nothing like taking an old toy off the shelf and dusting it off. As you take the toy and wipe away the years of collective dust, fond memories of the toy come back to you. Good times, bad times, it's all the same. Toys are always meant to be played with and never to be simply left on the shelf.

Today Marvel released The Invincible Iron Man Annual done by Matt Fraction and Carmine Di Giandomenico both in comic stores and on their digital iTunes store. This is a series of firsts for Marvel. First time Matt Fraction has worked with Giandomenico. It's the first annual for the Invincible Iron Man book.  Most importantly it's the first time that Marvel has released a digital copy on the same day as a hard copy of the book. It's a strange choice for such a gamble. Yes, the title says Iron Man but the golden avenger is nowhere to be seen in this book.  

The star of the issue is Iron Man's arch nemesis, the Mandarin, as he attempts to tell the story of his life. For those who don't know, the Mandarin is the arch enemy of Iron Man, and, like an old toy, has been put up on a shelf for the better part of three years now. In the issue, the Mandarin kidnaps a film director and demands that his next film will be the story of the Mandarin. At first, the premise seems a little silly, but as the story progresses the absurdity of the story is shed away. The real fun of the issue is watching as the director, to a lesser extent the Mandarin himself, and the reader attempt to find the truth within the Mandarin's origin. As lies are spread around, readers are treated to a crash course in the history of the Mandarin's past with China and Iron Man. You learn the reason why the Mandarin has such a raging hard on for the destruction of Tony Stark and how he views his enemy. In the end, it's the reader's chore to sift threw the lies and deceit in an attempt to decipher the bat-shit craziness of the Mandarin.

Giandomenico's art is unique, and I can tell it won't be for everyone, but I felt it fit the story quite well. My favorite part of the issue (aside from the former Iron Fist cameo) was the explanation of each of the Mandarin's rings. Being a casual Iron Man fan, it was cool to see a semi-reasonable explanation for the rings and why such a bizarre villain would be the perfect foil for Iron Man.  This has to be one of my favorite annuals of all time because it was so easily accessible (literally no prior reading of the ongoing book was needed to enjoy the issue), and it was a complete story. Annuals these days seem to relay too much on previous reading of the title to enjoy, but I would feel confident in giving this to a non comics reader and knowing they would enjoy it. The only downside is that Fraction has ignored what previous writer Daniel Knauf had done with the Mandarin (i.e. welding the rings to his spinal cord), but it's only a small compliant

Even though it's too early to tell, Marvel's choice for selling this issue at $1.99 on their digital store will mostly likely prove to be a success. I, being strongly anti- digital books, was happy to pay the hefty $4.99 price tag for this 80 page annual. The price seemed to fit for a book of this size and entertainment caliber.

This book has made me extremely excited for the Mandarin's reappearance within the monthly pages of the current Iron Man book.  Hopefully Fraction can take this rusty, dusty and almost clichéd toy that has been neglected for too long and make him work for a new generation of Marvel comics.

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