This Annual really caught me off guard. I kept it as my last read of the week because I didn't have high hopes for the story. Boy was I wrong!
The first thing I did was leaf through this extra thick comic inside my local comic shop. I was sure a book this size was going to have reprinted filler taking up the last half of the book. Again, to my surprise, the main story filled the entire book, cover to cover!
This was one of those stories that was hard to put down because it was disturbing. All throughout I had this uneasy feeling that had me asking, "Why is nobody helping?" Fraction did a great job writing a very emotional one-shot.
The story focuses around the Mandarin and surprisingly, Iron Man is never in the book. He is referred to in flashbacks and there are actors that the Mandarin forces to play the role of Tony Stark. But the Golden Avenger never makes an appearance.
Fraction creates a story that has the Mandarin kidnap a famous Chinese film director and his wife. His modus operandi is to force the director to create a film chronicling his (the Mandarin's) life. Subjected to torture and psychological abuse, the director has no choice but to create the film. While researching the Mandarin's background, the director begins to find MAJOR discrepancies between the Mandarin's stories and eye witness accounts. So different are the two versions that the reader begins to get a real sense of just how delusional Mandarin really is.
There are some major twists along the way and Mandarin makes for some serious entertainment. All in all Fraction really knocked this book out of the park. It is a monster of a read, and gets high marks in my books for being great from cover to cover.
This Annual would make a great addition to anyone’s comic collection.