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Iron Man's nemesis: The Mandarin

Recent incarnation of the Mandarin.

 

Origins

The Mandarin\\\'s father was one of the wealthiest men in pre-revolutionary mainland China (who claimed to be a direct descendant of Genghis Khan), and his mother was an English noblewoman. Both died soon after their son\\\'s birth, and he was raised by his father\\\'s sister, who was embittered against the world and raised him with much the same attitude. He displayed scientific aptitude at an early age and used his inheritance for education in various sciences in China and abroad. As an adult he became a high government official, or mandarin, and became renowned throughout China for his administrative brilliance.

However, with the success of mainland China\\\'s Communist Revolution, the Mandarin was deprived of his position, his palace and his wealth. Hoping to find a means of restoring himself to a position of power, the Mandarin explored the forbidden \\\"Valley of Spirits,\\\" where no one had dared set foot for centuries. There he found the skeleton and starship of Axonn-Karr, an intelligent dragon-like alien from the planet Maklu-4, who had come to Earth centuries ago and died. Over the following years, the Mandarin studied Makluan science until he had mastered it. He also learned how to use the ten rings he found within the starship which were apparently its propulsion source, among other things. The Mandarin then subjugated the villages around the Valley, and, through his super-science, rapidly became a power that not even the Chinese Army could successfully challenge. He then embarked on a long series of attempts to achieve world domination.

The Mandarin saw technology as the surest means to achieve his goals. Over the years, he would frequently attempt to turn various nations\\\' weapons against them. Among the Mandarin\\\'s earliest schemes was the sabotage and theft of American missiles and spy planes built by Anthony Stark. To restore public confidence in his workmanship, Stark donned his Iron Man armor and flew to China to investigate. Iron Man soon became the Mandarin\\\'s principal obstacle against his plans for world domination.

On three occasions in their early confrontations, the Mandarin managed to take Iron Man (or his alter ego Tony Stark) captive, but the Mandarin failed to kill him. Similarly, Iron Man thwarted the Mandarin\\\'s various schemes, but was unable to bring him to justice. Some of the Mandarin\\\'s early technological achievements were the launching of a small orbiting satellite whose \\\"death-ray\\\" he aimed at Stark Industries and the building of Ultimo, a 30-foot android possessing vast destructive powers (TOS #76). The Mandarin would employ Ultimo four times over the years, but it was always defeated by Iron Man.

The Mandarin\\\'s teleportation technology, derived from Makluan science, enabled him to kidnap people at will or teleport himself out of threatening situations. During his fifth encounter with Iron Man, the Mandarin teleported Harold \\\"Happy\\\" Hogan to his castle in China half a world away (TOS #84). Hogan had been wearing the Iron Man armor at the time to help protect his employer\\\'s secret identity, and the Mandarin mistook him for his true foe. Rescuing Hogan, Iron Man physically bested the Mandarin in personal combat for the first time. Iron Man redirected the missiles that the Mandarin had launched at the Mandarin\\\'s castle, destroying it. The Mandarin escaped by means of his teleportational machinery, and he materialized aboard his orbiting satellite. There, he constructed a gemlike device capable of broadcasting \\\"hate-rays\\\" toward Earth. The Mandarin assembled several of the former Masters of Evil to perform missions for him: the Living Laser, the original Power Man, the Swordsman, the Enchantress, and the Executioner. The Avengers managed to thwart the Mandarin\\\'s scheme and destroyed his satellite. (Avengers King-Size Special #1.)

The Mandarin then established a base in China\\\'s Gobi Desert and turned his attentions to the Hulk for a time, hoping to make the dull-witted brute an accomplice. Two attempts at controlling the Hulk proved futile, however, including one where the Mandarin allied himself with the American criminal the Sandman. The Hulk destroyed the Mandarin\\\'s desert base. When the Mandarin next attacked Iron Man, he employed an android in the Hulk\\\'s likeness rather than the real Hulk (IM #9).

The Mandarin set up a makeshift base of operations in America, and attempted to publicly discredit Anthony Stark. Holding Iron Man captive for the fourth time, the Mandarin tried to learn if Iron Man was actually Stark, but Stark fooled him with a rubber mask over his own features. (IM #10-11.) His plans thwarted, the Mandarin tried to kill Stark\\\'s current girlfriend Janice Cord, but the Mandarin\\\'s betrothed Mei Ling saved her at the cost of her own life.

New Bodies

Returning to China, the Mandarin sought a means to increase his rings\\\' power and learned of the legendary Eye of Yin, a talisman of power created by an ancient group of Chinese sorcerers. The Mandarin maneuvered the Royal Family of the Inhumans (who at the time lived in the nearby Himalayan Mountains of Tibet) into locating the idol for him. But before he could fully incorporate the Eye\\\'s power in his rings, Black Bolt, the ruler of the Inhumans, overpowered him, stripped him of his ten rings, and hid them. Unable to find the rings, the Mandarin journeyed back to the \\\"Valley of Spirits\\\" and the ruins of the Makluan starship wherein he first acquired the rings. There he found a headband containing technology which enabled him to recover the rings. The Mandarin used his newfound power to restore his castle to its original state. The Unicorn, another frequent opponent of Iron Man, sought the Mandarin\\\'s aid in curing him of a progressive disease. The Mandarin and the Unicorn traveled to America to attack their common enemy Iron Man (IM #58), but in the heat of battle, the Mandarin found that the headband had somehow exchanged his consciousness with that of the Unicorn. The Mandarin was forced to flee, desperate to separate himself from the Unicorn\\\'s dying body.

When the Mandarin arrived at his castle in China, he found that it had been taken over by the Yellow Claw, another Chinese supervillain. The Mandarin was forced to find another laboratory to try to restore his mind back to its rightful body, which he managed with the unwilling aid of the Japanese mutant Sunfire (IM #68). In battle with Iron Man again, the Mandarin\\\'s interim headquarters was destroyed (IM #69). The Mandarin then launched an attack on the Yellow Claw in an attempt to regain his own castle, but was fatally injured when the Yellow Claw robot he had been battling exploded (IM #70). As the Mandarin lay dying, he used the headband\\\'s mind-transferring capacities to transfer his consciousness into his ten rings. When the rings were confiscated by the Yellow Claw\\\'s power-hungry servant Loc Do, the Mandarin\\\'s consciousness entered Loc Do\\\'s body, permanently driving out Loc Do\\\'s (IM #71). Using his matter-rearranger ring, the Mandarin transformed Loc Do\\\'s body into a younger duplicate of his original one.

The Mandarin returned to his castle, discovering that it had again been destroyed. After rebuilding it, the Mandarin attempted to capture Iron Man with his teleportation devices, but once again caught someone else clad in his armor. This time it was Michael O\\\'Brien, later to become a friend of Stark\\\'s and first to wear the Guardsman armor (IM #98). Iron Man flew to O\\\'Brien\\\'s rescue, clad in an old set of armor, saved O\\\'Brien, thwarted the Mandarin\\\'s attempt to bomb the United States and for a second time bested him in personal combat. Perhaps due to the effect of the Mandarin\\\'s mental domination ring on him, Iron Man did not take the Mandarin into custody, but allowed him to remain free (IM #100).

The Mandarin later schemed to involve turning the Great Vibranium Mound of Wakanda into Type II Vibranium which destroys the molecular cohesion of metals. He also tried to destroy China\\\'s entire rice crop in an attempt to provoke war. In the second of these plots, the Mandarin encountered Jim Rhodes, during his custodianship of the Iron Man armor (IM 180-181.)

Heart of Darkness

When Stark tried to set up a branch of Stark Enterprises in Hong Kong, Iron Man and the Mandarin once again came into conflict. The Mandarin had taken the name of Zhang Tong, and had become a financial leader in Hong Kong. As Tong, he controlled a number of government officials and industry leaders of Hong Kong. The Mandarin thwarted all of Stark\\\'s attempts to set up a business branch, even resorting to murder (IM #241-242). The Mandarin now employed a group called the Hand to do his dirty work. When on a mission, a Hand member was allowed to take one of the Mandarin\\\'s rings and use its powers. If the Hand member was captured, he would fanatically try to kill himself. If the Hand member was killed or knocked out, the ring would automatically teleport back to the Mandarin.

At one point, the mutant heroine Psylocke passed through the mystic portal known as the Siege Perilous. The portal relocated her to an Asian shore, leaving her amnesiac. The man known as Matsu\\\'o Tsurabaya found her and believed he could save his brain-dead lover Kwannon by switching her mind with Psylocke.

He made an arrangement with the Mandarin to help him with the switch, whose rings would be able to cause the mindswitch. Working with the woman known as Spiral, they were able to switch the minds of the two women. Mandarin then put Psylocke (now in Kwannon\\\'s body) through conditioning, causing her to believe herself to be Lady Mandarin, the Mandarin\\\'s assassin.

After doing several assignments for him, Psylocke was eventually rescued by her X-Men teammates Wolverine and Jubilee, and Psylocke defeated the Mandarin, causing events which led to Mandarin\\\'s leaving the Hand.

The Mandarin next discovered the Heart of Darkness, an orb of apparently mystic energy, which he used to turn back time in China. Iron Man, with his team Force Works and ally War Machine defeated him, but not before the Mandarin discovered that Tony Stark was the man inside the Iron Man armor. (See \\\"Hands of the Mandarin\\\" crossover.)

Iron Man infected Mandarin with a techno-organic virus, and the Heart, seeing him infected with technology, rejected the Mandarin and imploded. Iron Man believed him dead, but in reality the Mandarin was transported and transformed by the last flare of the orb\\\'s magic, turned into a janitor in the Hong Kong branch of Stark Enterprises.

Eventually, the Mandarin\\\'s memories returned to him and instead of trying to crush technology, Mandarin believed that the feudal system of yesterday had merely been transformed into the capitalism of today. Mandarin set into motion plans to create a giant flying fortress called the Dragon of Heaven through which he could conquer Russia and eventually the world. During this time, Iron Man reappeared after being believed dead in a battle against the psychic menace Onslaught. The Mandarin initiated a series of attacks on Iron Man, culminating in a battle with the Dragon of Heaven. Eventually it was revealed that the Mandarin\\\'s primary purpose was not to conquer Russia, but to test Iron Man, prove him worthy as a foe and to justify Mandarin\\\'s own thoughts on capitalism.

The Mandarin apparently died as the Dragon of Heaven exploded, but Iron Man was less than convinced that his foe had truly met his end. (IM vol. 3 #9-10.)

Temugin

Nevertheless, the Mandarin has only recently made a return into Iron Man\\\'s life. Instead, the Golden Avenger has been faced with Temugin, the son of the Mandarin. Temugin has precious few memories of his father and most of them involve his father taking him to the monastery where he was raised and trained by monks. Temugin is sensitive, spiritual and unbelievably powerful because of his control of chi, the living force in all things.

One day Temugin received a package containing the severed hands of the Mandarin, bearing all the rings of power. Temugin knew that he was honor bound to fulfill his father\\\'s wishes for him. He challenged Iron Man to avenge his fathers death, and he proved a deadly adversary even without the rings.

After Tony Stark revealed a conspiracy for mass murder in his own ranks, Temugin appeared to have forgiven Iron Man for the death of his father and to have turned to more lofty pursuits, but recent events indicate the power of the rings have corrupted his soul. (IM vol. #53-55.)

Temugin is named after his claimed ancestor Genghis Khan, whose name was Temugin (also spelled Temuchin, Temudjin, u also variates to )

Revival

The Mandarin has been revived in volume 4 Iron Man. Apparently he has been in a prison in central China for some time. In this story it has been revealed that he has lost his hands (most likely the hands that were sent to Temugin were, in fact, actually the Mandarin\\\'s). He has also been living with no food or water for years. His ability to survive so long without food or water is likely due to his mastery of chi. Despite being handless and starved, he was able to kill several men armed with guns via his mastery of the martial arts. As of Iron Man #17, his rings are being reassimilated into his body by heating them and burning them into his spine.

Government Infiltration

The Mandarin has infiltrated the U.S. government via his role as CEO of Prometheus, a corporation specializing in bio-engineered weaponry.

Powers and Abilities

The Mandarin is a superb athlete with tremendous skill in the various martial arts. Through repeated practice he has toughened all the striking surfaces of his body, especially his hands, which are covered with thick callus. He can even split Iron Man\\\'s magnetic-beam reinforced alloy armor with repeated blows. So great is The Mandarin\\\'s martial arts ability that he can even survive years without food and water, apparently sustaining himself purely via his mastery of Chi. The precise degree of The Mandarin\\\'s martial art powers has been the subject of multiple implied retcons by Marvel comics. Initially Mandarin was portrayed as being such a superhumanly skilled martial artist that he could destroy Iron Man\\\'s armor with his bare hands. Later portrayels focused on his use of the rings, and implicitly retconned The Mandarin\\\'s skill to being great but no longer superhuman. The most recent continuity has restored Mandarin\\\'s martial arts ability to its original superhuman level. The Mandarin is one of Marvel Earth\\\'s greatest scientific geniuses. Not only has he made himself into an authority on Makluan science, but he has also built upon this knowledge by making further discoveries based upon it.

The principal personal weapons of the Mandarin are the ten rings which he wears on his fingers. The rings\\\' operations cannot be explained by contemporary Earth science, but it is known that they served as near-limitless energy sources for the warpdrive engines of the starship of Axonn-Karr. The Mandarin learned how to convert the rings to his personal uses and to make them respond to his mental commands. The fingers on which he wears each ring, and the known functions for which he uses each ring, are given below.

  • Left Pinkie \\\"Ice Blast,\\\" emits waves of cold which can be used to stun an opponent. The ring usually causes the air in the path of its blast to turn to ice, and can lower an object\\\'s temperature to nearly absolute zero. With it he could encase foes in bands of ice or create walls of ice to block pursuers.
  • Left Ring Finger \\\"Mental-Intensifier,\\\" which amplifies the Mandarin\\\'s own mental energies and allows him to control the minds of others with a limit of one person at a time at a distance of ten feet. Can also be used to create illusions. As proven by Psylocke, if the wearer of the ring is a natural telepath, the ring will enhance their abilities far beyond a wearer without telepathy.
  • Left Middle Finger \\\"Electro Blast,\\\" emits electricity in amounts and intensities mentally determined by the wearer. The maximum voltage attainable is not known.
  • Left Index Finger \\\"Flame Blast,\\\" emits infrared radiation, or heat, at intensities mentally determined by the wearer. Usually the heat produces flame through incandescing the molecules in the air in the path of the blast. The heat beam can be used to trigger chemical explosions. The maximum amount of heat it can generate is not known.
  • Left Thumb \\\"White Light,\\\" can emit various forms of energy along the electromagnetic spectrum, often a laser-like beam. Can also create suficient gravity to make Iron Man completely bury himself simply by trying to walk forward.
  • Right Thumb \\\"Matter Rearranger,\\\" which can rearrange the atoms and molecules of a substance. The Mandarin usually uses this ring to change the shape of objects, such as causing a giant stone hand to erupt out of the earth and grapple a foe, and turning a mountain into a giant rock monster. He has, however, used it to transmute the molecular composition of objects, such as changing the air around a target into a poisonous gas and can also speed up and slow down molecular movement so as to alter states of matter like turning water vapor into liquid water. It has failed to rearrange Iron Man\\\'s magnet beam enforced armor.
  • Right Index Finger \\\"Impact Beam,\\\" can project various forms of energy, most frequently that of fast neutrons with the concussive force of 350 pounds of TNT. The ring has also been used to project intense sonic vibrations and to create magnetic and gravitational waves to attract or repel objects and people. The ring may be capable of emitting other forms of energy as well.
  • Right Middle Finger \\\"Vortex Beam,\\\" causes the air to move about at high speed in a vortex. The vortex can be used as an offensive weapon, as a means of levitating objects, or as a means of propelling Mandarin through the air..
  • Right Ring Finger \\\"Disintegration Beam,\\\" emits a beam of energy that destroys all bonds between the atoms and molecules of the object it strikes. This ring needs twenty minutes to recharge after use.
  • Right Pinkie \\\"Black Light,\\\" can create an area of absolute blackness that seems to absorb all light used within it. Although \\\"black light\\\" is a term used to refer to ultraviolet radiation, the darkness created by the ring is probably a form of the \\\"darkforce\\\" used by Cloak, Darkstar, and the Shroud.

Over the years, the Mandarin has established a strong psionic link with his rings, which was made many times stronger during the period in which his mind/spirit actually inhabited them. One result is that no one who wears the rings other than the Mandarin himself can command them without his permission. He can voluntarily give temporary control over a ring to his servants, however. If the servant dies or falls unconscious, the rings teleport back to The Mandarin. The Mandarin can now command the rings even when they are separated from him by vast distances. He can mentally monitor events taking place near a ring that has been separated from him. Continued exposure to the alien rings made his hands green and scaly.

First ever & IM appearance: Tales of Suspense #50.

 


The Mandarin\\\'s Ten Rings.

 

Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 September 2008 )
 
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