Writers: Daniel and Charlie Knauf
Artist: Robert del la Torre

What it’s about: Oh how we miss Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. This now-defunct book focuses on the post-Civil War version of Tony Stark, who briefly replaced Nick Fury as the head of the government super-spy group. Written by Charlie and Daniel Knauf, this title combines the super heroics you get from most comics on the stands with the political tension and suspense usually reserved for a George Smiley thriller. And in the book’s crowning story arc, titled “Haunted,” the Knauf’s re-introduced the world to a much more modern version of the Mandarin.

Gone are the over-the-top threats and gaudy costumes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and in their place is a villain who is more akin to Ra’s al Ghul, of Batman fame, or, perhaps more fittingly, the real world terrorists we read about every day. In this story, the Mandarin hatches a plot to infect the world with Stark’s Extremis virus in the hopes of advancing humanity forward, despite possibly killing 75% of the population. It’s a high-tech thriller that proves that comics can still beat out any $200 million blockbuster any day.

How it relates to Iron Man 3: Though Iron Man 3 looks to capture some of the aspects of the classic take on Mandarin, the movie’s use of Extremis, as well as Mandarin’s portrayal as more of a terrorist than a traditional supervillain, makes it fall right in line with “Haunted.” The Mandarin may be most famous because of his 10 power rings from the comics, but this story proves that his most dangerous weapons are still his ideals.