This week’s Iron Man 3 finally introduces the Armored Avenger’s archenemy to the film franchise. The Mandarin began his comic-book life in 1964 as a Chinese warlord and standard “yellow peril” character who could fight in Tony Stark’s weight class thanks to 10 magic rings, each of which had a different super-power. To bone up before you head to the movies, or if you want to read more about the Mandarin after the credits roll, here are some of the best modern comics featuring the villain.
Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin While the Mandarin’s original appearance can be found in Essential Iron Man Vol. 1, part of Marvel’s line of Bible-thick, 500-page, black-and-white collections of their older material, a revised and modernized take on his origin can be found in this trade paperback, by Joe Casey and artist Eric Canete.
Iron Man Vol. 5: Haunted For a short time, Iron Man was basically the Boss of All Superheroes in the Marvel Universe—the role Samuel L. Jackson plays in the movies—and here writers Charles and Daniel Knauf and artist Roberto De La Torre had the Mandarin resurface to challenge Stark in his new, stressful position as a super-bureaucrat and government employee.
Invincible Iron Man Vols. 9-11 With these three volumes, writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca create a massive Mandarin vs. Iron Man epic involving a huge cast of Stark’s allies and enemies and consciously echoing our hero’s origins and fundamental appeal. It’s the climax of one of the longer and best-liked Iron Man runs in the comics.