THE BREWER REPORT:
Rhodes less traveled
The case for another Iron Man
War Machine Feature
By: Byron Brewer
I cannot take you down the many paths Jim Rhodes, late a supporting cast character in the fondly-remembered Bob Layton run of Iron Man
, took to get his own armor and eventually his own super-heroic identity: War Machine.
I know just enough about the character to tell you that, at least in the old days, Tony Stark never had a better friend (no, not even Thor) nor did his iron armor ever have a truer representative of the all-American way as an occupant than James Rupert Rhodes.
I remember Rhodey always being there when Tony was battling alcoholism and supporting him during his tragic romance with Madame Masque. He was Iron Man for Stark when an Iron Man was needed. And when a decision came to establish a West Coast branch of the Avengers, it was Rhodey – not Tony – in the outfit. I never will forget when Hawkeye – I believe; maybe I have
forgotten, lol – first saw that this Iron Man’s skin was black. Clint began to raise doubts about the new Shellhead until he discovered Rhodey had been the same hero who had been in the original Secret War
In Iron Man
and Secret War
, Jim Rhodes managed to pound out a bit of street cred for his identity … and for Tony, until the day most of the world discovered there had been more than one Iron Man. I was actually enjoying Rhodey as IM and Tony as, well, Tony in that run of Shellhead’s book, until it came crashing to an end.
Now War Machine is set to be one of the undercover assemblers in the military-oriented Secret Avengers
book being created by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato. Along with Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Nova, Valkyrie, Beast, Moon Knight and the Irredeemable Ant-Man, War Machine will be globe-hopping on government missions under the scrutiny of SHIELD agent and former Cap squeeze Sharon Carter.
War Machine has demonstrated that he works well in team situations. In a CBR interview, scribe Brubaker said he also will be putting Rhodey’s scientific knowledge to good use.
“… Some of these heroes will split between (action) in the book and their own specialties such as the ‘science team’ of War Machine and the Beast (X-Man Hank McCoy),” Brubaker said. “Hank and War Machine really run the science lab on the roving (Secret Avengers
) headquarters. … We need someone like that (science geniuses) on our team, and I already had an Ant-Man that’s not Hank Pym. I needed a science nerd, and (Brian Michael) Bendis took Thing for New Avengers
but I don’t think they’d let me take Reed Richards for Secret Avengers
Thus, the team of Rhodes and McCoy!
Hey, and the fact that the character was in the blockbuster film Iron Man
and is being featured in Iron Man 2
, played by Don Cheadle, cannot be bad
news for this book’s producers, right?
In brief summation, Rhodey was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps serving tours of duty in Southeast Asia as a combat pilot. During one mission, Rhodes’ helicopter is shot down by Viet Cong rocket fire and he is stranded in the jungle behind enemy lines. While trying to get the aircraft airborne again, he encounters Iron Man for the first time. Although Rhodes believed him to be an enemy at first, Iron Man proved that he was on the same side as Rhodes when he helped defeat the Viet Cong soldiers that ambushed them. Iron Man, who has just escaped from Wong Chu's prison camp in his prototype suit of powered armor, told Rhodes that he needed the batteries from Rhodes’ helicopter to sustain his life support and that he helped billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (who is secretly Iron Man) escape the prison camp.
At the base hospital in Saigon, Stark arrives in person to thank Rhodes for helping Iron Man to safety and to offer Rhodes a job as his personal pilot. After the Vietnam War was over and after taking several career paths, Rhodes finally took Stark’s offer and became Stark’s personal pilot, chief aviation engineer for Stark International, and one of Stark’s closest friends and confidants.
Through a succession of iron suits and heroic incidents, Rhodes became a hero in this version of the War Machine armor and is ready to assemble with the Avengers anew. But do not let anyone know. It’s a secret!
Secret Avengers #1 hits stores May 26!