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Invincible Iron Man #23: Review

Mar 2014
Kieron Gillen, Luke Ross

Story Name:

Rings of the Mandarin chapter 1

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #23 Review by (March 22, 2014)
Dark Angel is 1 of the characters from the 1990's Marvel UK. She had her own 16-issue series (originally called Hell's Angel), and also appeared in various other MUK titles. She is 1 of the few such characters to make it into the Marvel US mainstream, albeit in Britain-based titles Excalibur and MI-13. She and her cohorts are currently undergoing a revival in the Revolutionary War series of connected 1-shots. Dark Angel's father was 1 of Mys-Tech, Marvel UK's main baddies, who made a deal with Mephisto. Here she claims that her father sold her soul to Hell, which doesn't match with her original origin. But it does chime with the RW: Dark Angel #1 retake which says that she's inherited her father's debt to Mephisto. Iron Man restates his aversion to magic. He says that last time he tried to understand it, that almost gave him a nervous breakdown and sent him off into space for a year. If this refers to the events of #4 then that's a new reading of what happened.

This issue gets the .NOW label and a prominent #1 on the cover. At least this is justified by being the 1st issue of the Rings of the Mandarin arc (unlike the recent Avengers issue which claimed on the cover to be #1 of Rogue Planet - so far at least with no #2). And as a jumping on point this is is still in the *middle* of the Rings story - #18's beginning of Iron Metropolitan would have been better. Luke Ross takes over as artist from Joe Bennett for a few issues. Svartalfheim is 1 of the Asgardian Nine Realms, home of the Dark Elves. (There is also Alfheim for the Light Elves.) I believe it was a mistake (at least in Marvel terms) to refer to Svartalfheim as the home of the Dwarves in the Fear Itself issues of Iron Man. The Dwarves live in Nidavellir. The Dark Elves of Svartalfheim were 1st brought into the Marvel U with Malekith in Thor #344-349, as recently documented by Peter in the Thor Library. He was deposed as leader there, but continued to appear as a lone villain (again see the Thor Library). But he regained the throne in the recent Thor #13-17 (again see ....). I don't think Malekith has any particular hatred of Iron Man - he just sees the Rings as useful. Last issue I named Malekith's Ring as #2 Influence, based on the finger it was shown on. But this issue names him Mandarin Four with the ring on the relevant different finger (and with a different symbol on it). And Dark Angel identifies the ring correctly as Spectral.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #23 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue begins with a biased account of the history of Svartalfheim. The elvish kingdom was the fairest of the Nine Realms, but jealous others referred to its inhabitants as Dark Elves. They suffered under the dominance of the Asgardians until Malekith the Accursed returned to lead them once more. Now all was revelry.

Then a magic ring appeared and spoke to Malekith. It was actually 1 of Mandarin's rings and came to offer the lord power if it would be used against Tony Stark (apparently on the basis that Elves hate iron). But Malekith bent the ring to his will, and now he seeks out others. (This obviously happened before the events of last issue where Malekith gained 2 more rings. Which makes it an artistic mistake to show him wearing Abigail Burns' severed hands as a necklace.)

Now Tony Stark commissioned a musical of his life story, then fired the artistic genius behind it. The Lightning ring has found this aggrieved artist and made him Mandarin Eight, the Lightning Conductor. The ring's typical ability to greatly speed up its wielder's mental processes means that he's holding his own in battle against Iron Man. Until Malekith pops in, decapitates M-8, severs his hand to get the ring, and teleports away.

At least Tony now knows who's collecting the rings, and he goes to see his personal supernatural expert Shevaun Haldane, Dark Angel. She's been looking after and trying to understand the woman Tony rescued/captured in #4. That woman had been rendered mindless and given Extremis to make her body suitable to be the bride of a demon. She had also been programmed to obey magic words and symbols, which is why she is now trapped in a magic circle.

Shevaun hasn't been successful in her investigations. The woman attacks anyone who enters her circle. Meanwhile her lower half seems to be turning into a triangle. (And this issue doesn't say anything about her being pregnant at the end of #4)

But Tony has another job for Dark Angel.

Meanwhile in London journalist Abigail Burns is trying to live her life without the hands she lost to Malekith. But her computer's voice recognition software leaves a lot to be desired. Then Arno Stark contacts her from Troy/Mandarin City and offers her an advanced beta-test version of what he developed when he was trapped in his iron lung. (We now see him mobile in an exo-skeleton, not the huge Iron Man armour he wore last issue.) Burns refuses to accept charity, but Arno persuades her she'll be helping him perfect a product he'll give to the world for free.

Abigail doesn't know that the reclusive Arno is Tony Stark's brother, but she senses a story.

Shevaun creates a magic device to disable the rings. She also sets up a 3-use door to Svartalfheim. 1st she'll send Stark there in non-iron armour (because the Dark Elves would immediately detect the hated metal). Then she'll send the magic item. The 3rd use will be for non-Iron Man to get out when the job's done.

Dark Angel wonders why Tony doesn't just contact Thor. But Stark says that would just get things tangled up with Nine Realms politics. Better a stealth mission.

So Shevaun activates phase 1. But unfortunately our hero materialises in the middle of Malekith's throne room.

Luke Ross
Luke Ross
Michael Del Mundo (Cover Penciler)
Michael Del Mundo (Cover Inker)
Michael Del Mundo (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Mark Paniccia.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)


Plus: Dark Angel, Red Peril.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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