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Invincible Iron Man #241: Review

Apr 1989
David Michelinie, Denys Cowan

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Story Name:

China See!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #241 Review by (August 1, 2017)
Comments: Part one of two parts. The title is a pun on “China Sea.” Mandarin last appeared in IRON MAN #179-181 when Rhodey was in the armor. Mandarin's Hand henchmen have no connection to the ninja cult made famous in DAREDEVIL and related comics. Tony Stark speaks Chinese. Mrs Arbogast is an amateur kendo champion.

Review: Iron Man's greatest villain the Mandarin has also been one of Marvel's biggest troubles over the years. He started out as a Fu Manchu clone long after the fashion for racist “Yellow Peril” villainy had hit its peak. So what to do with him? IRON MAN 3 (the movie) had him be an actor hired to impersonate a foreign terrorist. But at this time, Marvel reinvented him as a smooth gangster—but a gangster with a castle lair and an army of faithful foot soldiers (known as the Hand) similar to Han, the Big Bad in ENTER THE DRAGON. And Han was patterned after Dr No, the first cinematic James Bond villain—and here Mandy is seen in a typical Bond villain exercise: executing a henchman who has disappointed him in some way. Cool—but by the next issue Mandarin is back in Japanese armor (uh, he isn't Japanese) and performing all of the martial arts moves one would expect from a modern stereotypical Asian villain. But the idea of the Hand, henchmen bearing the power rings, is a pretty cool one though Shellhead went through them pretty quickly here.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #241 Synopsis by T Vernon
The tale opens with Iron Man flying over the streets of Hong Kong, in pursuit of a fellow firing violent blasts from a ring. Shellhead apprehends him but the man only mentions working for the Hand before he vaporizes and the ring vanishes. Iron Man returns to his hotel room where we find out what led up to this....

Tony Stark and his entourage came to Hong Kong to open a branch of Stark Enterprises; matters were complicated by the mysterious Zhang Tong, who seems to control everything in the city and made matters difficult for Stark. The only man willing to sell his property to Stark was Huang Hao; when he arrived at Tony's hotel room he was assassinated by a ring blast and that's where we came in. Now the police are involved and they seem to take little interest in solving the crime....

Then we meet Zhang Tong at his private island where he is sparring with his acolytes. He catches a man fighting with poisoned lacquer on his nails and executes him on the spot for his lack of honor....

Tony meets with his staff and finds they are all being stonewalled, likely on orders from Zhang Tong. Marcy Pearson calls from the US to tell Tony that Kathy Dare has been caught trespassing on Stark property....

Tony meets with Zhang Tong and immediately recognizes him as his old enemy the Mandarin—but Tong does not seem to know Tony. Zhang promises that Tony will not be able to do business in Hong Kong...unless he comes to work for Zhang. Tony angrily refuses and walks out. Downtown, James Rhodes is escorting Mrs. Arbogast on an errand when they are accosted by Zhang's goons and Rhodey is kidnapped by a baddie using a vortex ring to capture him and fly him away....

On his island, the Mandarin/Zhang outlines his plan to have his Hand henchmen use his rings to conquer China with him as leader. Iron Man arrives at Zhang's compound and faces the Hand. One uses a tractor beam to ground him, another blinds the hero with black light while another attempts to control his mind. Shellhead clobbers these last two, then stops the guy with the ice blast ring, ending up by clouting the tractor beam guy. Iron Man enters and confronts the Mandarin: the baddie reveals that he has Rhodey, Mrs Arbogast, and Felix Alvarez captive. He then challenges Shellhead to a duel: if Iron Man wins, his employees go free and Tony Stark can do business in Hong Kong. Should the Mandarin win, however, Stark will come to work for him and the three captives will die....

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Denys Cowan
Bob Layton
Bob Sharen
Bob Layton (Cover Penciler)
Bob Layton (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Janice Chiang.
Editor: Howard Mackie.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes


Plus: Felix Alvarez, Kathy Dare, Marcy Pearson, Mrs. Arbogast.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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