Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Hands of the Mandarin

Season: 1
Episode Number: 2b
Season Episode Number: 2b
Production Number:


Voices: John Vernon (Iron Man), Bernard Cowan (Mandarin, Narrator), (Chinese Guard).

Plot: Iron Man faces off against the Mandarin, but can the Golden Avenger defeat not only the Mandarin, but all of his household weapons as well?

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): In a rather bizarre move, Grantray-Lawrence Animation decides to stick the first encounter between the Mandarin and Iron Man (TOS #50) right in the middle of the story told in Tales of Suspense #61 & 62. Lucky for them, they found a way to make it work just fine. However, there are inconsistencies in the Mandarin's character designs since artist Don Heck drew him a bit different in the two issues.

Speaking of the Mandarin, this original version of the Mandarin is so completely different than any other version of the character. First, his costume is ridiculous. The giant "M"? The goofy mask/goggles? And it's not just the outfit, it is the whole Chinese stereotype that is ridiculous. The Fu Manchu mustache, the long fingernails and Bernard Cowan's attempt at a Chinese accent would never make it in a children's cartoon today, but it represents the ignorant Western view of "Red China" from the sixties.

The Mandarin has become more of a mystic in recent years, not relying on gadgetry and technology as much as he does in this episode. He is basically a typical 60s villain. Big ideas and big schemes, plenty of weapons and brute strength, but not enough smarts to carry any of it out. He definitely becomes a bigger threat over the years.

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