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

The AP today announced the next Marvel book to get the "All-New Marvel NOW!" treatment, though this one won't restart with a true number one. With Iron Man #23.NOW in March 2014, a new arc begins that will see a classic Thor villain set to take on Tony Stark - with a little help from one of his own foes. The story continues writer Kieron Gillen's run on the series, with art by Luke Ross.

Malekith the Accursed, the Dark Elf featured in Thor: The Dark World will be Iron man's newest enemy for the five part storyline "Rings of the Mandarin." As the title and cover imply, Malekith will be searching out the power rings that have usually belonged to Mandarin (who is currently deceased in the Marvel Universe). The story promises to "meld" magic with modern technology, all while Tony Stark is also trying to deal with the major revelations of the last arc, namely that he is adopted and has a long-lost brother - his parents' birth son.

The mixture of Malekith and Mandarin's power rings will see Tony dealing with "things outside science," and therefore things out of his control, Gillen said.

"This arc is pretty much anger. Tony ends up wanting to punch stuff," said the writer.

The Mandarin was apparently killed in a 2012 storyline that capped writer Matt Fraction's run with Iron Man, where Tony was forced to team up with several of his other classic rogues against the despot. They won the battle, and Ezekiel Stane (son of the movie Iron Man's villain Obediah Stane) killed Mandarin in battle. The character's comic book persona carries ten rings of power, alien rings that allow Mandarin to operate outside the realm of Earth's scientific knowledge. Some are simple, like those that shoot Ice, Flame, or Electricity, while others have more advanced powers like control over gravity, or the ability to rearrange matter right down to the molecules.

Malekith, meanwhile, has taken a star turn in both comics and film, as the villain of Thor :The Dark World in theaters and the main villain in the current arc of the comic book, Thor: God of Thunder. Apparently he makes it out of that story alive, and ready to vex Thor's precious Midgard (what the Norse Gods call Earth) once more.

While the AP article got a bit confused over the two villains with names that start with "Ma," wrongly stating that Mandarin and Malekith would both be appearing in this story, a representative from Marvel Comics confirmed to Newsarama that this story will not feature the return of the dead Mandarin, instead focusing on what someone else - namely Malekith in this instance - does with the alien rings of power.

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