As anyone who reads my comic reviews knows, I’m a huge Iron Man fan and part of that is loving War Machine. Now that Rhodey has changed from being War Machine to Iron Patriot, that love really hasn’t changed. James Rhodes isn’t an egomaniac like Tony Stark, he’s a much more down-to-earth kind of guy, he loves his family, he loves his country and he wants to do what’s right, willing to sacrifice his life to save the people he loves. That’s a great combination of characteristics and one that had me follow him from his War Machine days into the Iron Patriot suit.
Now, he’s got his own comic book, how does Iron Patriot fare when stacked up against some of the other superhero suited characters in the Marvel Universe? Pretty darned good, as it turns out. One thing that I really enjoyed in this first arc is that it’s a much smaller, family-driven story that takes Rhodey, his father and his niece Lila on a life-or-death tale when a madman wants to use the Iron Patriot armor to kill a former President.
I may be one of the few out there who like these quieter stories that don’t revolve around world-ending events but I’m happy to see Rhodey, out of his armor, dealing with his father, talking to Lila, etc. Maybe it’s because I’m an older and probably better adjusted reader but I don’t care about page after page of endless and mindless fights. I want a good story and that’s not always done by people beating the snot out of each other. How people interact, how they relate and why they do what they do, those are just as important as seeing them in action but most comics don’t do a very good job at showing those scenes.
Unfortunately, while reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder, since Iron Patriot is a well-known, long-running and popular black character, what all the comic-reading liberals are going to complain about. After all, their major complaint is always that comics are racist. Maybe they’ll get up in arms that Rhodey hasn’t been transformed into a black woman, they have to have something to whine about and if there isn’t anything, they’ll certainly invent something that pisses them off. It’s the liberal way. I really don’t see much that could be problematic though, the majority of the main cast is black and the bad guys are all white, maybe they’ll be up in arms that any white character at all appears in the book.
Writing, Ales Kot does a decent job, I think he’s got the characters down decently and hopefully that will improve further as time goes on. The art by Garry Brown left a little to be desired, especially when he got into guys in powered armor because I don’t think the armor looked as good as it might have but the character work is quite acceptable so I’ll give it a hesitant thumbs up, maybe he just needs more time to get used to drawing the armor.
I will admit that I was really taken by the character of Lila in these issues, maybe more than any other. Yes, it’s a shame that Rhodey’s father dies in this arc but Lila, the young genius, really comes through, installing new technology and remotely piloting an Iron Patriot suit to the rescue. I loved the bit at the end where Tony Stark offered to send her a couple of old Iron Man suits and a supercomputer, just to mess around with. I think it’s clear she’s someone to keep an eye on in the technical world of the Marvel Universe. I want to see her working for either Stark or Reed Richards really, really soon.
All in all, there’s a lot of potential here, a bit more of an intimate take on characters that usually spend their time beating up super-baddies. We need a book like that, at least in my opinion. Others may disagree but I really like getting into Rhodey’s head, finding out what makes him tick, how he relates to his family and his friends and how that influences what he does. I loved the idea that he had a hard time relating to his father and that it really bothered him. It’s probably not what the mainstream comic-buying audience wants but I’d like to see more of it.