IRON MAN & Thor: The Dark World's MALEKITH Encircled by 'Rings of Mandarin'

Iron Man #23.NOW cover
Credit: Marvel Comics

What if the big bad of Thor: The Dark World met Marvel’s leading man, Iron Man? Well wonder no longer, as Malekith the Accursed will be stepping into the comic series Iron Man in March, 2014.

It all comes about when one of the ten errant rings of Mandarin finds a new home on the hand of Malekith, fresh off an otherworldly cat-and-mouse game against Thor in Thor: God of Thunder. Although the Mandarin himself is dead, Iron Man writer Kieron Gillen has brought up the notion that the dead tyrant’s fabled rings are sentient, with personalities as unique as their powers – but all sharing an acrimonious hatred for Tony Stark. Malekith’s already known as an antagonist sort, but with the power and personality of one of Mandarin’s rings he becomes even more of a threat… especially for Iron Man.

Iron Man #23.NOW cover
Iron Man #23.NOW cover
Credit: Marvel Comics

Newsarama spoke with Gillen about this upcoming arc which follows the current “Iron Metropolitan” story-arc, and while the British scribe is careful not to spoil the events leading up to March’s “Rings of Mandarin” arc launch in Iron Man #23.NOW, he does give us some juicy morsels to chew on, from the inner workings of Mandarin’s rings to a new magical consultant for Iron Man, as well as the writer following up on ancient elf lore in the pages of Iron Man.

Newsarama: Kieron, Iron Man has fought a host of horrors before from industry tycoons to mutants, aliens and even some gods – but elves?! How is Malekith coming into contact and conflict with Iron Man?

Kieron Gillen: As part of the “Iron Metropolitan” arc, I've introduced the idea that the rings of the Mandarin appear to be sentient and each are finding a new owner, seemingly due to an enmity to Stark. Clearly, there's more to happen with that between now and then, but that's true. The rings are out there and are looking for owners.

One ring comes to Malekith.

Nrama: So this ring has a problem with Tony, and now that Malekith is in possession of it so does Malekith?

This is as much Tony having a problem with Malekith as vice versa. The main story is about Tony coming for Malekith, in a black-ops style mission to the dark elves' realm.

Malekith in Thor: God of Thunder by Ron Garney
Malekith in Thor: God of Thunder by Ron Garney
Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama:  People never got to see the power the Mandarin’s rings have in Iron Man 3, so can you tell us about the power having all 10 rings in one person’s possession would have?

Gillen: Good question. I'm using the arc as a chance to really examine the rings as entities by themselves. We see them bicker with their AI intelligences. We see them have their own personalities. We see them push what each ring “could” do with its defined powers. These are incredible weapons by themselves. Whoever gets each one is going to cause trouble on a world-wide scale.

I leave it to your imagination what would happen if someone got them all.

Nrama: What does the Mandarin have to say about all this fighting over his rings? Does he have a role at all in this?

Gillen: Not that anyone can see. The Mandarin remains dead.

Nrama: ‘Nuff said. In addition to Iron Man and Malekith, I’ve also been told that Marvel UK’s Dark Angel will be joining the series fresh off the Revolutionary War: Dark Angel one-shot you’re doing. Can you tell us how she became involved, and what she brings to the title?

Gillen: Not wanting to spoil Revolutionary War, but Dark Angel has a... hard time in Revolutionary War. She's Tony's technical consultant for mystical events, in short. Tony could go to Doctor Strange, but Dark Angel's mindset is a lot nearer his than someone like Strange.

Revolutionary War: Dark Angel cover by Mark Brooks
Revolutionary War: Dark Angel cover by Mark Brooks
Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Before I get too deep, can you tell us about Dark Angel as a character and in terms of powers? Not all of us have a Hell’s Angel #1 in mint condition like I do (humble brag), and may not know about Shevaun Haldane.

Gillen: Dark Angel was one of the real powerhouses of the Marvel UK universe. The short way of describing her is that she had her soul sold to Mephisto by her parents, and gained phenomenal, awesome powers. Like Jean Grey level powers. In fact, her mixed with Alan Moore’s and J.H. Williams III' Promethea would be a good way to think of her. She's a long way away from that now, as Revolutionary War: Dark Angel will show.

Nrama: In all of this new information, there’s still the ongoing story of Tony dealing with the fact that he’s learn he was adopted. I know we’ve got a bit of issues between now and when Iron Man #23.NOW comes out, but how does Tony’s new-found origin work into this confrontation with Malekith and the search for the rings?

Gillen: While the rings are at the forefront of the challenge Tony faces, this is all against a background with him trying to rethink who he is. “Iron Metropolitan” was primarily about denial. Tony is throwing his energies into something else to avoid even thinking about it. “Rings of the Mandarin” is the next step on the 5 stages. This one's all about rage.

Nrama: Any last tease you want to give fans about this new arc?

Gillen: Elves are famous for many things. Amongst them is “stealing children.” There's room to dramatize a lot of things by playing with Elf lore. I'm really writing the elves as uncanny, otherworldly creatures with a sadistic, alien intelligence. These are deeply scary creatures.

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