Having barely escaped Spymaster, Iron Man's in no fighting form. But the return of the Mandarin has Tony heading into battle…and clinging onto life! Black Widow guest-stars.
After being beaten to hell by the Espionage Elite, Tony has gone into cardiac arrest. It seems that Black Widow might have arrived a little late. She desperately tries to get his heart beating, doing everything she can. When all fails, she opens her stings and creates a current conduction path between them. She slams them down on Tony’s chest, giving him an instant electroshock. The result is miraculous. Tony springs back to life. He pleads her to give him his armor. She insists that she get him to a hospital, but he just wants his armor. So Natasha dives into the river and retrieves his armor. As she puts it on him, she pleads him not to go after his target. Tony reveals Mandarin’s name, saying that he did this to him. Then she asks him to follow, saying that a help from the Avengers would be preferable.
As Tony flies over the area, his broken ribs hurt him. He struggles to maintain his consciousness. He thinks of Mandarin, a man who sought power to rule China, and obtained them in the form of ten rings. He and Iron Man clashed many times after that. But Mandarin got to know Tony’s name the last time he and other superheroes faced him. It seemed that Mandarin was dead, but recent attacks on Tony Stark and Iron Man have identified Mandarin as the source of those. Tony almost crashes into a power grid, but keeps going.
Inside the Stark Solutions building, Rhodey and Happy check the whole house for bugs and hidden communicators. Finding nothing, they sit down. Just then, Black Widow calls, telling them about Tony’s plight and Mandarin. Pepper is heart-broken while Happy tells her to hold on.
Later, Widow contacts the Avengers, saying that she could use some help locating Tony. The Vision says that he will arrange for some Avengers to help them.
As Tony flies above the Ural Mountains of Russia, he suddenly spots something below. He strains to see that there is a war going on below. On one side, heavily armed vehicles and mercenaries, on the other side, the Russian army and the Winter Guard. Iron Man flies into the heart of the melee, startling the winter Guard. He gets the details and spells out the name of Mandarin. They are surprised, saying that Mandarin was supposed to be dead. Iron Man asks for company to go after Mandarin, but Steel Guardian refuses. Iron Man continues alone.
Tony keeps flying for a little while longer and soon detects unusual power readings. He soars above the clouds, only to find himself facing a giant space station, in the form of a Dragon. The station’s advanced defense systems detects him and starts firing. He ducks and tries to open a hatch, but gets himself almost fried in the process. Tony loses concentration for a second and the Dragon’s mouth opens to gulp him down.
Tony finds himself inside the space station. He calls out for Mandarin. He is greeted soon enough. Mandarin comes from behind and immediately attacks him with a variety of weapons. Iron Man is quickly overpowered, and Mandarin chuckles to himself.