Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck
What it’s about: You simply can’t get prepared to see Iron Man 3 without reading the debut issue of the Mandarin from Tales of Suspense #50. In the story, Iron Man is sent to China by the Pentagon to investigate the Mandarin, who has been up to no good, apparently. Once he arrives at the Mandarin’s inexplicably lavish castle, he has to bob and weave his way through a series of booby traps before physically confronting his new foe.
After a brief fight, the Mandarin is defeated and Iron Man flies back to the U.S. to hit on Pepper Potts. There really isn’t anything more we can say about this issue; it's just a quaint issue of a book that more-or-less existed to give kids something to read after school. However, with Iron Man being a huge brand in pop culture at the moment, this issue is nothing short of a landmark.
How it relates to Iron Man 3: You won’t see the Mandarin’s posh castle or gaudy power rings in the movie; hell, they didn’t even give him that stylish gimp mask that he has in this issue. But as far as prepping for the movie, this comic features more historical value than all of the others on this list put together. Put aside the goofiness and naivety for a second and just let the ‘60s pop styling of Stan Lee and Don Heck wash over you.