Appearing in "Mandarin: The Story of my Life"
- Jun Shan's female assistant (Only appearance; dies)
- Jun Shan's male assistant (Only appearance; dies)
- Mandarin (Main story and flashback) (Origin revealed)
- Chuntao (Only appearance)
- Iron Fist (Bei-Ming Tian) (Only in flashback) (Cameo)
- Genghis Khan (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Mandarin's mother (Only appearance; dies) (Only in flashback)
- Mandarin's alleged father (Only appearance; dies) (Only in flashback)
- Mao Zedong (Mentioned)
- Axonn-Karr (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Raza (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Iron Man (Tony Stark) (Only in flashback)
- Ho Yinsen (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- China (Main story and flashback)
- Madripoor (Mentioned)
- Mandarin City (First appearance)
- Afghanistan (Only in flashback)
- Mandarin's Rings (Main story and flashback)
- R.T. node (Only in flashback)
- Iron Man Armor Model 1 (Only in flashback)
- Iron Man Armor Model 37 (Bleeding Edge Armor) (Photo)
- Extremis (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Mandarin: The Story of my Life"
The Mandarin kidnaps acclaimed filmmaker Jun Shan, takes him to Mandarin City, and forces him to direct a biopic, using his wife Chuntao for leverage. The Mandarin feeds Jun lies about about the story of his life, presenting himself as a respected aristocrat, when in reality he was a low-life born in a brothel.
Jun eventually discovers the truth about the Mandarin's life, and decides to make a second version of the movie behind the villain's back, with the intention to expose him. As the filming of the main feature progresses, Jun becomes fed up by the Mandarin's petulancy and starts acting insolently, to the point of confronting the Mandarin after he orders Shan to end the movie in Tony Stark's death.
When the night of the premiere arrives, Jun attempts to slip away with Chuntao, whom the Mandarin had turned into one of his escorts. The Mandarin blows up the entire cinema as soon as he's presented with the clandestine version of the film instead of the one he had approved. Jun is killed by Chuntao, revealing the abuse she endured left her loyal to the Mandarin. The Mandarin laments Shan's death, expressing that he did love the filmmaker's work.
Following a screening of the film Pinghai Bay, movie director Jun Shan is presented a Golden Dragon Award for best film. While Jun is celebrating with his wife Chuntao in a balcony, a group of assailants appear out of the shadows and abduct both of them. Aboard an airplane, Jun is introduced to his captor, the Mandarin, who praises his film-making and reveals his intention to collaborate with Shan to produce his very own biopic. As soon as Shan raises the possibility of refusing, the Mandarin spills acid on the left side of his face. Assuming Shan's left eye must be blinded now, the Mandarin threatens both of Chuntao's. At their master's request, the Mandarin's men drug Jun and Chuntao, with their boss announcing they will talk again once they reach Mandarin City. Jun subsequently wakes up while having his newly-formed scars stitched by an old woman. In a bed in front of him lays Chunato, whose entire body is being punctured by the Mandarin with long needles as an incentive for Jun. Shan finally gives in and accepts to do anything the Mandarin wants.
Inside a room, the Mandarin meets up with Jun, who is sitting on a desk, having jotted down notes about the film. When Shan asks about the Mandarin's origin, he scornfully reminds him that he's a descendant of Genghis Khan, a beloved and kind warrior who unified China and died in his sleep. Contrasting this is a flashback of Khan's final moments, killed in battle by the Iron Fist Bei-Ming Tiang. When Shan questions Khan's fate, the Mandarin claims what he learned were lies. A scene is then filmed, in which an old actor portrays Genghis Khan in his death-bed.
Back at the briefing, Jun inquires about the Mandarin's parents. The villain reveals his mother was an English noblewoman. A flashback clashes with these claims, showing an opium den in which the procurer learns his only white prostitute is pregnant. The procurer orders the child is put to work as soon as the woman delivers. Moving back to the film-making, Shan is shooting a scene in which a healthy couple give birth in a hospital room.
Continuing the meeting with the Mandarin, Jun asks what does he recall of his youth. A flashback presents the young Mandarin in the smokehouse brushing away a man on the floor, however, he hesitantly recalls studying in boarding schools and with tutors. When Shan inquires about the death of his parents, the Mandarin hesitates before telling him they died in a car crash. Scenes from the past establish he found his mother's corpse, having died from an overdose, and later on strangled her procurer. He then took over business, though he tells Jun he was taken in by his aunt and was raised in the finest boarding schools of Europe and Asia, from where he supposedly graduated early due to his excellence.
The Mandarin then recounts the rise of communism. In reality, he became a fugitive, though he tells Jun he was welcomed by Mao Zedong and carried his message. The Mandarin's recount of his compassionate attempt to rescue the moribund Makluans stranded in the Valley of Dreams which resulted in being gifted ten magical rings as well as the subsequent scenes filmed based on that are juxtapositioned by the real series of events: Despite the pleas of the moribund Makluan that he didn't touch the rings, the Mandarin mercilessly killed him and took the cylinders. The Mandarin proceeds to show Jun the rings. Disinterested in them, Shan asks to see his wife. The Mandarin shows him a photo of her, revealing he has been carrying it for six day, as he expected Jun would've found the courage to ask for her by that time. Before leaving, the Mandarin encourages Shan to man up, so that he might learn about Chuntao while the information is still fresh.
Some time later, Jun and his female assistant are investigating about the Mandarin's life in a library, looking over books, manuscripts and photos from his personal archives. Despite his assistant's warnings, Shan runs away after noticing that one of the photos was staged. Making his way through the village, Jun reaches the Mandarin's throne room. The guards surround him, but Jun states he doesn't care whether he's killed or not. Shan demands to leave Mandarin City, claiming that he needs to explore the places where the Mandarin lived to properly immerse in the experience. The Mandarin gladly concedes his demands.
A van drops Jun Shan on the village of Habuquan, and Mandarin's men give him three hours. Jun soon comes across an old man that offers to give him information. At a bar, Jun expresses the perplexity of his situation, as the Mandarin claims to have been born in Shanghai, even though the birth records kept in his very own files indicate he was born in the village. The old man proceeds to give Jun all the details about the Mandarin's early life the villain had altered. While returning to Mandarin City on the van, Jun asks his female assistant to assemble a list of people. Later that night, inside a tent at the movie set, Jun rallies his co-workers to tell the true story of the Mandarin. He concedes they could face dire consequences, but not until they expose the madman.
Later on, during a different briefing with the Mandarin, Jun is told that after acquiring his rings, he reached out to the common people and become an asset to Mao, despite the truth being that he terrorized the village. The Mandarin goes as far as to claim Mandarin City was a fiefdom personally gifted by Mao. During filming in Habuquan, the Mandarin arrives in a helicopter scolding Jun for choosing such filthy location. Jun fools the Mandarin into believing the locations were chosen to show the ruin the Mandarin lifted his people out of.
Jun then interviews two people regarding an episode marked by the first appearance of Iron Man, the Mandarin himself, and one of his former lackeys, now stranded in a hospital with his face partially disfigured. Mandarin arrived to a military camp, where he was greeted by Raza, who informed him about Tony Stark's capture. According to Mandarin's recount, he was delivering humanitarian aid to a refugee camp and Stark was a heroin smuggler being treated there for injuries. When Stark eventually escaped captivity clad in the first Iron Man Armor, the Mandarin shielded himself from a blast with the man who is now narrating the event to Jun. Shan asks the Mandarin why didn't he use his rings to stop Iron Man, and he admits it was because at that time he had finally seen the face of his true nemesis.
Casting for the role of Tony Stark takes place, and the Mandarin rejects most auditioners, with many of them being notably similar to Stark. He finally settles on a mild-mannered man wearing glasses with a thin moustache. As the props for a scene are being set, Shan becomes fed up by the Mandarin's petulancy to the point of insulting him. The Mandarin quickly reminds him he is in control of the film, his life, and his wife. Filming starts, but the Mandarin soon orders everyone to stop, disgruntled by the performance of the actor portraying him. The Mandarin threatens the actor despite Jun's protests, and filming continues. Becoming comfortable with taking the reins of the project, the Mandarin dismisses Shan and his crew. Jun spends the night spying on his wife to make sure she's okay.
The following day, when Jun meets up with the Mandarin, his boss announces he decided the third act of the movie will feature the death of Tony Stark. Later, the Mandarin takes Jun to a dojo to witness him single-handedly beat to death three fighters in unarmed combat. The Mandarin recounts he studied every martial art in the world, having left the country after Mao's ascent. When Jun notices this creates a discrepancy with what he's been told, which had already been turned into filmed scenes, the Mandarin insists he didn't say such things, and uses his rings to blast Jun's notebook out of his hands before leaving.
Later on, Jun and his crew watch bits and pieces of an old film featuring the Mandarin. When Jun asks if they can find the people that made it, his male assistant informs him they are gone. Shan wonders where could they have gone before realizing what his crewmember meant by "gone." Before shooting a scene, Jun's assistants observe it contradicts an earlier scene. They help him find a way around this issue, and Jun thanks him, recognizing their help. Behind the scenes, Jun is exasperated by the holes and discrepancies in Mandarin's narrative, calling him a liar. Discouraged, Jun reminds himself and his crew that they have to shoot whatever the Mandarin tells them to shoot regardless of its veracity.
While briefing with the Mandarin, who is brainstorming ideas about the scene of Stark's death, Jun wonders if he isn't bothered at all that Stark isn't actually dead. The Mandarin reminds him that as a filmmaker, he can toy with the truth. Shan stands firm that Tony Stark is very much alive. The Mandarin insists that is not the case in his film, and walks away, asking Shan if they're clear. He replies that there is what he and his crew hear, what they know, and what the Mandarin chooses to tell them. This last remark angers the Mandarin, and he blasts Jun's desk, asserting him that his truth is that Tony Stark will die by his hand. Scared, Shan agrees.
The Mandarin goes over the design of Iron Man for the film, and orders the costume to look more menacingly. Shan's male assistant quietly tells him that one time Iron Man and Valkyrie saved a plane he was flying on from crashing, and points out he looked nothing like that. Sarcastically, Jun asks why would they let the truth get in the way of a good story. When the assistant brings up the truth, Jun simply replies that truth is just the story that gets told loudest and last.
While the crew is making preparations to start shooting, Shan has to snap the Mandarin out of being transfixed by the redesigned Iron Man costume animatronic. The Mandarin interrupts the scene numerous times to make adjustments until he decides to step in and replace his actor. The Mandarin dismisses Jun and his crew while he goes to his wardrobe. He eventually returns, and gets ready to start the scene with the actor inside the Iron Man animatronic. In a fit of rage, the Mandarin violently attacks "Iron Man." Numerous members of the crew have to hold him back from killing the poor actor inside the suit. Silently, Shan comes to the realization the Mandarin will kill them all eventually, and that there is no escape. Later, Jun meets up with his crew in a basement, and informs them he's sure they will be killed if they continue working on the film's modifications behind the Mandarin's back. He encourages any member of the crew to leave if they don't want to go forward with the plan. All of them do except his two assistants.
On the editing room, Jun's work is interrupted by the Mandarin's arrival, who informs the filmmaker he has more notes about the story, arguing they barely scratched the surface. Shan disrespectfully tells him to just kill him or leave. The Mandarin contains his anger, and, before walking away, tells Shan the gala premiere is scheduled in three weeks, so that's all the time he has left. Jun's female assistant comes up to him and hands over several notes she took after nine days of watching over the female staff, which includes Chuntao. Later on, Jun has the assistant try on a dress similar to the one being worn by Chuntao, with the purpose to impersonate her. Jun thanks her, and she expresses that she really loves his films.
The premiere comes on a rainy day, and the Mandarin arrives to the crowded gala at the theatre. While the Mandarin walks down the cinema with his female escorts, Chuntao is swiftly taken away and replaced by Jun's female assistant. When the Mandarin sits down at the auditorium, he notices Jun's seat is empty. He's secretly meeting up with Chuntao, though he soon notices there is something wrong with her, as she's completely in trance. Jun forces Chuntao out of a window while Jun's male assistant starts the screening.
The movie begins, and the Mandarin is surprised by the final result, a film exposing his lies. He becomes gradually angrier as the screen is filled by imagery of his true past. Jun and Chuntao are running through the streets when she suddenly stops and stabs him in the neck with a pair of needles. At the same time, Jun's female assistant is found out, and the male assistant is shot in the projector room. Fueled by anger, the Mandarin activates his rings and explodes the entire theatre. Once he calms down, Chuntao approaches him. He quickly brushes off what happened, and orders to meet him in his chamber in ten minutes with champagne. Meanwhile, the corpses of Jun, his two assistants, and the audience lay still in the middle of the rain.
Some time afterwards, the Mandarin visits Jun's grave and leaves a rose. Pitying his death and expressing that he really loved his films, he promises to rebuild the destroyed theatre in Jun's honor and name.
A year later, a ceremony is being held in the memory of Shan, who went reported missing all this time. The speaker breaks down in tears while reading a speech, and she receives applause from the audience, among which is the Mandarin.
Later on, from his tower in Mandarin City, and with Chuntao's company, the Mandarin makes a toast for happy endings.
The Mandarin is a collection of lies, stories, myths, and legends. But two things are true: He wears, upon each finger, an alien weapon of unimaginable power…and he's going to kill Tony Stark. Is he a violent street crook born in a brothel? The scion of an aristocratic dynasty? Was his father was a petty criminal or an ambassador? Was his mother a British noblewoman, or maybe a dragon-chasing wastrel lost in the underbelly of the world? He's a murderer, a businessman, an artist, a terrorist, a hero. And this is the story of his life.
- This comic is the 21st annual issue for Iron Man overall.
- This issue was the very first to be released simultaneously in print and digital by Marvel Comics. Its digital edition was broken up in three parts, each titled Invincible Iron Man Annual #1.1, #1.2 and #1.3. Each issue was priced $1.99, totalling $5.97 in contrast to the print version being $4.99.
- This issue establishes all previous recounts of the Mandarin's origin were actually fiction fabricated by the Mandarin himself in order to improve his image.
- Even though the concept of the Mandarin being involved in Iron Man's origin had already been introduced in Iron Man #267, this issue shows the Mandarin had no intention of keeping Stark alive, whereas in Iron Man #268, the Mandarin wanted Wong-Chu to ensure Stark's safety. As a matter of fact, in the aforementioned issue, the Mandarin is the mastermind behind Stark's capture, as he hoped to use him and Ho Yinsen to further unlock the secrets of his rings.
- In this issue, Wong-Chu is seemingly replaced by Raza, adapted from the character of the same name that appeared in the film Iron Man. The same change is executed in Invincible Iron Man #500.1. This could imply Raza was retconned into Wong-Chu's place; however, Black Widow (Vol. 6) #6 establishes Wong-Chu still existed. A way to go around this discrepancy is to presume both Raza and Wong-Chu were involved in Stark's kidnapping.
- This issue takes other liberties presenting Iron Man's origin: Stark and Yinsen are shown to be held prisoners in a cave, rather than a shed (though this change had been already implied in Invincible Iron Man (Vol. 2) #18); Tony is sporting a miniaturized arc reactor rather than an entire chestplate to stay alive; and the Iron Man Armor Model 1 is much crude than it has been presented in previous and future comic books. In fact, the Model 1 armor in this issue is much more similar to its adaptation from movie Iron Man than any other version from the comics, down to making heavy use of flamethrowers.
- This issue contains references to writer Matt Fraction's run in Immortal Iron Fist:
- On page 53, when Jun Shan is editing the Mandarin's film, his male assistant can be seen waring a t-shirt with Spider-Man Noir's face.
- This issue is reprinted in Invincible Iron Man: My Monsters.