Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin

In Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin Joe Casey updates the original meeting of Iron Man and the Mandarin, which originally took place in the early 1960s. It's not a bad story, although it's pretty difficult for Casey to reconcile some of the necessary Cold War sensibilities with modern day concerns. Let's face it, having a main character named "the Mandarin" (effectively an embodiment of "the Yellow Peril") is pretty sketchy in the first place. In addition, the need for Marvel to keep sliding the working window of time (in order to keep their characters from aging too much) means that the motivation for most of Iron Man's villains (e.g., the preservation of Communism) no longer seem relevant.

In this particular case, the Mandarin wants...something...I guess to take over the world, or remake it in his own image, or something along those lines. And the plot sort of meanders around as the Mandarin (or Casey) tries to make up his mind, and as Casey attempts (only somewhat successfully) to retcon (retroactive continuity) a lot of Tony Stark's later-established character qualities.

Eric Canete brings a loose curvy, thick brush style to the artwork that I really like. It's reminiscent of Jeff Lemire or Matt Kindt. But as much as I enjoy it, I'm not sure that it really works for a tech-heavy book like Iron Man.

For what it is, Enter the Mandarin is okay---and I definitely enjoyed parts of it. But ultimately, I'm not sure why this needed to be written. As many of Marvel's characters are now crossing into their fiftieth year, it's probably best to stop trying to salvage all the old stories. Jettison (or ignore) most of that unnecessary and outdated continuity, and just write good stories for today. This is definitely a case where two very talented creators were held back by what was probably an editorially-mandated idea: "update the Mandarin." Everyone would have all been better off if the editor had said: "go forth and create something cool." Casey and Canete certainly have it in them.