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War Machine #1: Review

Apr 1994
Scott Benson, Gabriel Hardman

Story Name:

Something to believe in

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

War Machine #1 Review by (January 2, 2019)
Scott Benson and Len Kaminski co-wrote this issue and several more.

Gabriel Hardman pencils #1-8 but calls himself Gabriel Gecko at this time.

The short War Machine Ashcan Edition that preceded this series turns out to be an earlier part of Jim Rhodes' daydream.

In Iron Man #144 James Rhodes' involvement in Shellhead's origin took place in Vietnam. Here it's been generalised to a Southeast Asian conflict, as part of the Marvel sliding timescale where Fantastic Four #1 always happened 10-15 years ago. Later it will be updated again to Afghanistan.

After leaving Stark Enterprises in IM#289-291 & Avengers West Coast #94 War Machine joined the West Coast Avengers in their #95-102 (with lots of stuff between issues as documented in my Comments there). After the team broke up in their last issue War machine had his own story within #152-155 of the anthology title Marvel Comics presents, which followed up a plotline started in his backup tale in AWC#100 about Hate-Monger and the War Machines gang. Then he guest-starred in Hawkeye (1994) #3.

In the weeks before Cetewayo's kidnap, War Machine attends Rick Jones' bachelor party in Hulk #417 and the wedding in #418. (Iron Man's there too and they don't talk.)

Rebecca Bergier, Vincent Cetawayo, Ranald Jeffries and Sheva Joseph are all new characters who will play roles in this series.

Eda Arul is obviously based on Idi Amin of Uganda, but the decade is all wrong. His Advisor is also a new char who will be more than he seems.

Nick Fury's 1989 series featuring the new scaled-down SHIELD recently ended. Since then he's continued his usual round of guest appearances. His latest starring role was the Captain America/NF: Blood Truce graphic novel. And after that he was behind the scenes in Hulk #417's bachelor party (providing the stripper). After this he'll

Cable (Nathan Summers) is the son of Scott Summers and Madelynne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey). Scott sent his young son into the future for protection where he grew up to be Cable and became a time-traveller. In the X-Force series he took some young mutants under his wing in the present. Lately he's had his own series as well as running X-Force. His last app before this was Cable (1993) #12-14 in an adventure with Lee Forrester, a previous girlfriend of his father.

I'll leave covering Deathlok until next issue.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

War Machine #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The première issue opens with a daydream - James Rhodes imagining War Machine taking down all the Marvel costumed baddies and getting public adulation (and several girls in bikinis). But in reality he's just fighting low-level villains, compared with when he was temporary CEO of Stark Enterprises (Iron Man #284-289) and his actions could make a big difference to the world.

He calls on his girlfriend (since IM#287, apparently 3 months ago) Rae LaCoste and brings Chinese dinner. He tells her more about his life and we learn that he was born and raised in South Philadelphia. In his rundown neighbourhood he suffered a lot of bullying (probably racial) which made him determined to make something of his life and get out of there. He worked hard, discovered a talent for fixing machines, joined the Marines to get training and became a pilot. It was as a helicopter pilot in Southeast Asia that he helped Iron Man during *his* origin (IM#144), and was recommended for a job with Tony Stark (as his pilot).

During this tale Rhodey is careful not to reveal that Tony Stark *is* Iron Man, nor that *he* is War Machine.

He developed from being Stark's employee to Tony's friend. He taught Tony how to fly a helicopter and Tony deepened his rapport with machines. Then Tony died in IM#284 and his will appointed Jim as CEO. (Rhodey doesn't add that the job came with the Iron Man armour, at that time in the War Machine version.) He was just getting into his stride (and fighting guys like Atom Smasher, Firepower and Living Laser) when he learned in IM#289 that Stark wasn't really dead, just cryogenically frozen until they found a cure for what ailed him - and now Stark was awake again and taking his company back. Angry at being lied to Rhodes quit everything. (But Tony persuaded him to take the War Machine armour after he helped defend SE in IM#290-291 and Avengers West Coast #94.)

Now people keep offering him managerial jobs (as seen in Marvel Comics Presents #152) which he doesn't want. Rae suggests he *has* shown he can do it, but if not that then what *does* he want to do? Jim says he wants a job he can believe in. Rae invites him to dinner next week to meet human rights activist Vincent Cetewayo, a hero of Rhodey's.

At that meal we meet the man himself whose list of good works is endless (the bravest probably being telling Nick Fury to put his cigar out). Cetawayo is with his associates Rebecca Bergier and Dr Ranald Jeffries. The 3 are the Executive Board of Worldwatch Incorporated which is being set up to co-ordinate relief agencies and apply diplomatic pressure where needed. And they want Rhodes to be Executive Director. Jim stifles his anger at being tricked into this situation and makes his excuses to leave. But before he goes Vincent gives him a copy of his inspirational autobiography.

Rae drives Rhodey home and he tells her off for inviting him to the dinner under false pretences. She retorts that she doesn't want to be with a man who's wasting his life. They part on bitter terms. James watches the disturbing world news that night, and starts to read the book.

Meanwhile in Cetewayo's African birthland Imaya President Eda Arul denounces Vincent's book as slandering the country he abandoned. As he makes his speech the starving people are forced to cheer at gunpoint. The dictator retires to his trophy room where he keeps the heads of his enemies. He swears to send death squads to hunt Cetewayo down in America. But his Advisor, who helped him to get where he is today, suggests a more efficient solution.

Several weeks later Cetewayo is returning from UN work in the Middle East. He is the only passenger in a chartered plane. But it turns out the crew are in the pay of Arul, and the plane lands in Imaya where he is arrested. We see Bergier and Jeffries taking the news badly, Captain America lamenting that their UN Charter prevents the Avengers from interfering, and Nick Fury stubbing his cigar out. And also the cyborg Deathlok plans a trip to Imaya in his Dragonfly aircraft.

Jim Rhodes is also unhappy and goes to see Fury who happens to be in the LA branch of SHIELD. Nick wrong-foots Jim by mentioning that he knows he's War Machine and repeating his offer of a job (from IM#282 and MCP#152). But Rhodes quickly bring the conversation round to what SHIELD is going to do about Ceteweyo's kidnap. Fury says the current SHIELD (recreated in SHIELD (1989) #1 after being dismantled in the Nick Fury Vs SHIELD mini-series) doesn't have the manpower to tackle Imaya. (He doesn't mention that the new SHIELD is a UN organisation which presumably has similar constraints to the then-current Avengers.)

Rhodes storms off to do his own thing. Nick remembers when *he* used to be that idealistic. Agent Sheva Joseph comments that she still sometimes feels that way, but Fury tells her she'll grow out of it.

Rhodey dons the War Machine armour and flies into space to let the rotating Earth bring Africa to *him*. But his descent into Imayan airspace is detected by Cable in his Swiss safehouse, who bodyslides (teleports) to defuse the situation. He leaves before his computer can warn him of the Roxxon Dragonfly craft also heading there.

War Machine is attacked by Imayan jet fighters. He picks them off 1 at a time but the last 1 explodes too close and causes him to crash to the ground. When Eda Arul hears of the defeat he blames the messenger. The Advisor tells the man to send ground troops. Arul gets angry at his Advisor for usurping his position as supreme commander, but then issues the same command anyway. Agent Joseph reports the events to Fury who tells her to get a team ready. And calls Cap to let him know what's going on.

In Imaya War Machine is confronted by Cable. Rhodes mentions fighting Cable's young mutants in X-Force #20-22 (while he was wearing the WM armour as Iron Man in IM#284-289) and suggests he keep them under better control. Cable takes the advice but says his current priority is to take WM back to the US before he sparks an international incident. He says they'll have to leave Cetewayo here and the UN will negotiate his release later. The UN is nearing consensus on sanctions that will force big changes in Imaya (Cable's from the future so he knows these things), and he doesn't want War Machine to put that at risk. But Rhodes says Cetewayo will be killed before that happens.

So they decide to settle the argument by fighting preceded by bluster. War Machine wins the 1st round but Cable's big gun then puts him back on top. Then it's hand-to-hand until Nathan Summers resorts to the big gun again. They reach a weapon-to-weapon standoff. And then new player Deathlok shoots at them both.


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> War Machine: Book info and issue index

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Gabriel Hardman
Pam Eklund
Ariane Lenshoek
Gabriel Hardman (Cover Penciler)
Bob Wiacek (Cover Inker)
Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Advisor, Cable, Deathlok (Michael Collins), Eda Arul, Rae LaCoste, Ranald Jeffries, Rebecca Bergier, Sheva Joseph, Vincent Cetewayo, War Machine (James Rhodes).