Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Comic School Review: Iron Man's First Encounter with The Mandarin! (1964)

Surely one of the greatest things witnessed by those lucky ducks that attended this year's San Diego Comic Con was the first glimpse of Oscar Devourer Sir Ben Kingsley in his role as nefarious villain The Mandarin in the much anticipated Iron Man 3: Go Tony Go! Since reading the truly salacious descriptions of Sir Benjamin with a well groomed mo', I have had undeniable MANDARIN FEVER and have wanted to know everything possible about the bad guy that Marvel claims is "the most feared Oriental of all time!" Don't believe me? Check this out...

This is the introductory page of Tales of Suspense #50 in which Iron Man trades blows with Red China's sour-faced secret menace for the first time! Naturally it was written by Stan the Man Lee in the manner only he knows how, and drawn by the delightful Don "What The" Heck. I bought it from Comixology for a mere $1.99 and you will too if you know what's good for you!

Read along with me as I review this culturally insensitive classic from 1963... after the jump!

Now this is only a short tale, but there's actually two main plot lines that poor ol' billionaire industrialist jerk-face Tony Stark has to contend with in this issue. First is the red menace of the sinister Mandarin, and second is horny redhead secretary Pepper Potts trying to bang him at a company dinner. Rest assured that self-serving Tony manages to handle both problems hilariously ineffectually.

But first let's check in with the Mandarin because he's the cat we're most interested in right? And funnily enough, just like in other classic Marvel adventures we've encountered, the so-called "villain" of the piece is actually chillin' out in his home minding his own business. It's actually the wretched trouble-making "hero" that goes after him and causes all manner of shit for no particular reason!

As our story starts the Mandarin's peace is interrupted by four military officers who are visiting on behalf of China's government. They're terrified, and so they should be, because the Mandarin has a lot of craziness up his ridiculously billowing sleeves.

But so far the Mandarin is totally playing nice. He let's them in, excusing the rude interruption of his secret "me time". He seems to be a reasonable guy. This is only further proven when the military emissaries reveal that they are seeking his "atomic knowledge" so that he can assist their Communist Overlords with nuking the rest of the world. The Mandarin is horrified at such a proposal and tells these silly scamps to get out of his house immediately and they scurry away like the rats they are. The Mandarin won't tolerate such shenanigans. Truth be told, he seems like a pretty good dude.

Meanwhile, half-a-world away, others are also discussing the mysterious Mandarin! At a high level meeting in the Pentagon...

Who the hell does Iron Man think he is, standing there in his underpants essentially saying, "Nope never heard of the guy but if you think I should go and annoy the shit out of him then I'll gladly go and do it!" What a government stooge our Tony has become! And when the U.S. military here say, "We must learn about him" what they're really suggesting is, "Hey Tony, why don't you go over there and kick the crap out of him. For America!". The guy has done nothing wrong! The USA sure loves their pre-emptive strikes!

But here's where that second problem of Tony's starts brewing. You see, he's been invited to an employee's dinner and he's worried that his company men might get a little bent out of shape if their boss doesn't show. Also the aforementioned hornier-than-a-billy-goat secretary Pepper Pots has new make-up and a brand new "hairdo" and she's hoping that businessman Stark will initiate a private merger. In her vagina.

Now this next bit is great because the employee who gets the news of Tony's intended absence is a little bent out of shape. So watch how Tony's bodyguard Happy Hogan (played by John Favreau in the films) deals with this guy's disappointment...

TAKIN' CARE O' BUSINESS! "Mr. Stark! I have fifteen hours of unpaid overtime!" "OH YEAH!?" POW!

Actually, Tony sternly reprimands Happy Hogan for pushing that poor schlub's nose into the back of his skull, but Tony is a frequent pretender and renown son-of-a-bitch so it could just be for show. Pepper certainly doesn't give a crap. She has other things on her mind! Her vagina.

"Sorry Pepper. You were so uncharacteristically attractive to me that I naturally assumed you were someone else. Gotta' split!" Tony has no time to quell this firecrotch. He's got to go harangue a Mandarin so he suits up as Iron Man, gets on a plane, and drops behind "enemy" lines. Tony Stark is invading China!

But the Chinese soldiers don't realise that he has a super-powered suit so this pair of brazenly chilling caricatures are quick to assume Western incompetence...

Tony responds in kind by punching the crap out of them.

So Iron Man flies uninvited into the Mandarin's home and starts poking around at his fancy, and admittedly dangerous, security system. Within mere seconds Iron Man insults his victim by referring to him as "a weak apology for Genghis Kahn" and then makes the following deduction...

"Hi. I just invaded your house, I'm intimidated by your high-tech stereo system, and I'm going to pound the holy living shit out of you, or at least die trying. USA baby! USA!" 

So the battle is on! Tony is throwing high-frequency waves out of his belt buckle and Mandarin has ten powerful rings on his fingers, each with a different power. The guy can paralyse you just by flipping the bird!

But fights are boring. I'm far more interested in Pepper Potts and her unsatisfied vagina. She decides that if Tony can't take her to the employee's dinner then she'll have to get another "escort". So guess who she calls? 

"I'll go with Happy to the employee's dinner! Even though he has a habit of punching said employees in their complaining faces! That's sure to go down well! And if I play my cards right he might give me a 'rusty doorknob' as a nightcap! WHOOOA!!"

Happy is stoked at this proposal. Now he's glad that Tony's out of town and begins planning to put his best moves on Pepper's pot.

So back in China, Tony is starting to get a little weary from battle and the Mandarin reveals his most fearsome power of all... KARATE!

He's wildly chopping at Tony who can't get out of there fast enough. It's looking pretty grim, until Iron Man stops dead in his tracks and starts fooling with the "built-in slide-rule calculator" in his arm! (Oh the world before digital calculators was a grim one!). The Mandarin stops momentarily in his tracks and is like, "What are you doing fooling with your slide-rule calculator you crazy dipshit?!" but Tony has a plan. Tony blocks the next karate chop and in the process causes the Mandarin crippling pain! How did he do it? Observe...

So Tony scored one single blow on the Mandarin and then buggered off. You're a scamp, Stark! Keep on running! That'll teach that Oriental menace not to mind his business in his own house!

So meanwhile, back at the employee dinner, Happy is feeling jealous as the male employees start sniffing around Pepper like dirty dogs. I guess he's about to start smashing in their faces when Tony turns up in his tux. But much to Pepper's dismay Tony thinks that she is actually interested in Happy and that makes him Sad. It's all a big mess. To big to be resolved in this single issue clearly...

The Mandarin will "strike again"? He didn't even strike the first time! And now the poor bastard is sitting at home with a bandaged hand. Outrageous!


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