Hi, I’m Stephen, and I have an iPad.  Owning such a wondrous device affords me the pleasure of having a veritable library of new and old comics at my finger tips at a moments notice.  This week also marked the release of Marvel’s day and date issue of Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 in both electronic and physical form.  Was the experiment worth it?

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Salvador Larroca
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics


My knowledge of Iron Man extends to a few origin story reprints, two movies, and whatever reviews Matthew has written for the site (which means I haven’t read much). So when the annual arrived and it didn’t feature Iron Man at all, I wasn’t too upset.  Instead, the annual focuses on The Mandarin, who forces a famous Chinese filmmaker to create a biographical film of his life.  The only reason the director is willing to go along with the scheme, is because The Mandarin has kidnapped his wife and threatens to kill her if he doesn’t cooperate.  I seem to recall working for a few clients with the same method of motivating their staff.

Unfortunately, there’s The Truth, and The Truth, and as the director attempts to tell The Mandarin’s story, he discovers everything is a lie, and devises a plan to show the world the Mandarin for who he is.  The scheme doesn’t quite work, as his life mate turns against him at the last minute, brainwashed by the Mandarin.  It’s an incredible story, and Fraction delivers moments that make you hope the director will pull it off, while the final reveal adds just enough shock to show how evil the Mandarin really is.

The only problem I have with the story is that the evil villain capturing someone to tell his life story seems a little too much like some of the events that play out in The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.  There are enough difference to make this story unique in its own way, but having just read the book a few months ago the theme seemed a bit too familiar.


As more and more people experience reading digital comics on the iPad, the more positive comments I see from the newly converted. I’ve been a fan of digital convergence since day one, and there is nothing lost in this translation. All the images are crisp and wonderful to look at.  In the digital version, one can choose to zoom into individual panels, or view the entire page.  I opted to switch between the two options as I read the three different installments, and both made for an engaging reading experience.

Carmine Di Giandomenico delivers fantastic art in this annual as The Mandarin evolves into a horrendous vile creature by the annual’s end, and I love seeing the inter-cutting between the the real story and the Mandarin’s made up life.


I’m a little troubled that Marvel released this annual as three different issues in the Marvel Comic App, but I can understand the reasoning, as I doubt anyone would have paid $6.00 for a single electronic copy.  Breaking it into three sections makes it easier for people to read, and if they don’t like the first chapter, there’s no additional money wasted.

Interestingly, the last time I get really excited about a Marvel title it was when we reviewed the Immortal Iron Fist on the Major Spoilers Podcast.  Both that series and this annual are written by Matt Fraction, and I think I may have found a reason to start reading more Marvel titles written by the scribe.  A well written story, art that rocks, and an annual that ironically doesn’t feature Iron Man earns a solid 4.5 Stars from me.

Rating: ★★★★½


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Having not read this story yet, does this story naturally break into three parts or does the segmentation feel forced?

    Also you might find the recent Word Balloon/Matt Fraction interviews interesting as Fraction discusses the development of the annual (wordballoon.com).

  2. Good to hear the iPad is a useful device for reading comics. Hopefully other companies take note and produce tablets with a 4:3 aspect ratio as well to help the proliferation of digital comics.

  3. Not sure how many people got it, but I picked it up and wasn’t disappointed. The only issue I see for marvel (and other comics distributors online) is advertising. Outside this site I haven’t seen any advertising for online issues.

  4. The movie shown at the beginning depict the life of the Iron Fist Wu Ao-Shi, that scene is the same one seen in Immortal Iron Fist #2.

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