Cover Date: February 1965
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta
“The Origin of the Mandarin!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
“Break-Out in Cell Block 10!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
What’s Going On?
Iron Man struggles to defeat the Mandarin, while Captain America takes on an entire prison cell block by himself.
In the Iron Man story:
- Having captured Iron Man last issue, the Mandarin explains that he plans to start World War III by giving the Chinese a missile that will “accidentally” strike Taiwan. The plan is to conquer whatever is left of the world after the Communists and Democracies kill each other.
- Iron Man manages to free himself and races to the missile launch site. Iron Man manages to intercept the missile and redirect it to crash.
- Afterwards, Iron Man tracks down the Mandarin and confronts him. The Mandarin appears to quickly overpower the hero.
- However, the Chinese military attacked the Mandarin at that moment. Iron Man had crashed the missile into their base, and they blamed the Mandarin for the destruction. Faced with an army on his tail, the Mandarin abandons his attack on Iron Man and scrambles back to the safety of his castle. Iron Man takes the opportunity to sneak away and return to America.
In the Captain America story:
- Captain America is visiting a prison, at the request of the superintendent. They invited him to give a demonstration of how he would handle rowdy prisoners.
- Later, on a tour of the prison, Cap begins to get suspicious of the superintendent. And he is right to be! The “superintendent” and guards are actually all inmates that are trying to break out of jail!
- The inmates swarm Cap and lock him into a cell. They also take his shield. They believe that the magnets in the shield can help them crack the fancy magnetic lock keeping them imprisoned.
- Too bad Cap removed those magnets at an unspecified time in the past! Cap quickly breaks out of his cell and beats up the prisoners. The end.
Is It Good?
It’s okay, but not great. I don’t really like the idea of the Mandarin getting his powers from a dead space dragon, but Don Heck’s portrayal of the Chinese in this issue was mostly not racist, so I think it’s a net positive.
I’m getting tired of these dumb Captain America solo stories, though. They’re light and fun, and Cap fights entire rooms full of bad guys, but it’s getting repetitive. I’d love to see Kirby’s art applied to an actual ongoing plot for a change.
- As far as anyone (except Iron Man) knows, Tony Stark died last issue.
- The Mandarin was born into an aristocratic family —- he is a descendant of Genghis Khan —- that lost his fortune when the Communists took over China.
- The Mandarin got his high-end technology and ten power rings from a wrecked, ancient spaceship. The alien that arrived on the ship looked like a dragon and was mortally wounded by the Ancient Chinese.
- Iron Man has a diamond-edged blade in the glove of his armor.
- The Mandarin uses a Flame Ring and a Power Ring in this issue. The Power Ring appears to be used to power devices, so it probably dispenses electricity. We also see him shoot poison gas from a ring, and issue blinding light with another. He also solidified gas around Iron Man at one point.
- That brings our total of Mandarin ring powers to ten: in the past, he has used a Black Light Beam, Disintegration Beam, Force/Impact Beam, Paralysis Beam, and a Sound Beam.
- At some point, Captain America removed the “improvements” Iron Man added to his shield in Avengers #6. Cap states that they threw off the shield’s balance.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Wow, we have an honest-to-goodness villain monologue on our hands! Not even a “I’m going to enjoy enacting my evil plans” one, but a “This is an inappropriate time for this subject, and I really shouldn’t be telling you anything about this, really —- but I will!”
- Isn’t this exactly why you built a back-up generator in this armor, Tony? Have you forgotten about it?
- Mandarin’s aunt might not have been a good person.
- The Mandarin puts a death trap into motion, and then leaves the room, assuming Iron Man will die. That’s very Austin Powers. Also, the death trap is just…spinning Iron Man to death? That doesn’t seem like something so foolproof that I didn’t have to monitor it.
- While this is meant as an insult and a pop culture reference, Fu Manchu will eventually be integrated into the Marvel Universe as a character in the 1970’s.
- I really like “Mandy” as a nickname for the Mandarin.
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- “Formosa” is an old name for Taiwan / the Republic of China. It is where the non-Communist leaders took refuge when the Communists won the Chinese Civil War.