- The hour of the Gathering has come at last!
Appearing in "The Dragon Seed Saga (Part III of IV) - Dragon Lord"
- Several unnamed
- Greater Magellanic Cloud
- Makluan Starship (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "The Dragon Seed Saga (Part III of IV) - Dragon Lord"
The Mandarin and the injured Jim Rhodes look to the sky to find a swarm of eight dragons hovering beyond the horizon. Fin Fang Foom takes flight to join his brothers. Now, Chen Hsu finally reveals himself. Transforming into the largest and most powerful of the dragons, he takes to the air. Chen Hsu is the original pilot of the Makluan ship that crash-landed on Earth 3000 years ago.
As the dragons swirl about, the Mandarin tells Jim Rhodes of his origin. The Mandarin was a deposed Chinese government official who had gone off seeking new avenues of power. To that end, he first began exploring the Valley of the Sleeping Dragon. He found the remains of the Makluan space craft buried inside of a mountain range. He also found the corpse of Axonn-Karr, one of the original pilots. But inside the ship was the star drive containing ten rings of tremendous power. Taking the rings for himself he soon became known as the Mandarin. He abducted Chinese scientist Ho Yinsen and faked his death so that he could work exclusively for the Mandarin in attempting to harness the full power of the rings.
After the Mandarin tells his story, Chen Hsu lands and details more information about how the Makluan first came to Earth. The Makluans hailed from a planet called Kakaranathara, deep in the Greater Magellanic Cloud (the same region currently ruled by the Kree). Life on their world became boring, so they set out to find new planets to conquer. Recognizing Earth as a barbarous planet, they decided to journey there. But a cloud of cosmic radiation damaged their ship and they crashed. Originally there were sixteen aliens, but six of them died at the hands of local warriors. The dragons used their ability to alter their shape to assume human guise and infiltrate human society. But now it is time for them to return to their true shape and re-take the ten rings of power.
Meanwhile, we learn the reason that Iron Man had to return to the hotel room. There is a delay time between when Tony transmits signals to the armor, and when the armor actually takes action. Although the time delay is minuscule, it is costing Iron Man a supreme advantage. He needs to physically confront the issue himself. Before he gets the chance to climb into his armor, he finds that Doctor Su Yin has come knocking. She tells Tony that she may be able to reverse the damage done to his nervous system. Tony expresses his love to Su Yin, but she feels obliged to tell him of her husband. But there is little time for romance. Tony has a dragon or two to fight.
Chen Hsu and the other dragons take human form and try to summon the Mandarin’s rings to them. The rings are quasi-sentient and respond to the commands of their owner. But the Mandarin has been wearing them for a long time now, and he refuses to be a puppet of the Makluans, let alone a betrayer to his species. Marshalling all of his strength and control, the Mandarin keeps the rings from sliding off his hands and into the grip of the Makluans. He then vents his blooming aggressions through the rings and releases a massive energy assault against the dragons. The dragons begin firing gouts of flame at him, but the Mandarin manages to erect mystic shields protecting him from the heat.
But the Mandarin finds that he now has a most unusual ally. Tony Stark, physically wearing the armor of Iron Man once again soars down from the sky above.
- Axonn-Karr appears in a cameo flashback only. It is his corpse that the Mandarin steps past to first acquire the rings of power.
- The reference to Ho Yinsen's death being faked was revealed in Iron Man (Volume 1) #268. This establishes that the origin of the Mandarin took place only a few short months prior to Tony Stark's ill-fated trip to Southeast Asia.
- It is never stated whether or not Fin Fang Foom ever took on a human guise. As far as it is known, Fin Fang Foom spent the bulk of his life on Earth slumbering in a cave in the Valley of the Sleeping Dragon. It has been indicated earlier, that Fin Fang Foom is still a child by Makluan standards, forcing the question, why would the Makluan explorers bring a child along with them?
- This issue's "guest artist", Mark Bright was Iron Man's regular artist only a few years back.
- This story is reprinted in the trade paperback The Dragon Seed Saga.
- One of this editor's favorite quotes from Jim Rhodes pertaining to Chen Hsu's narrative on the history of the Makluans,
- "That's some story short stuff. You'll forgive me if I don't just buy into all that at once though."
Links and References
- Iron Man (Volume 1) series index at Comicbookdb.com
- Iron Man (Volume 1) series index at the Grand Comics Database Project
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