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War Machine #14: Review

May 1995
Dan Abnett, Dave Chlystek

Story Name:

Human rites

Review & Comments

4 stars

War Machine #14 Review by (April 23, 2019)
This is truly the end for Locomotive Breath.

We met Black Brigade and Ember, the Tabissara, the Slorenes and the Dudaks in Force Works #4-5, and the Supreme Commander in their #5. The Targoth are new here. At that time the mythological Dudak champion Ember was hosted by human Pavel Chenklo. Chenklo tried to destroy the Triptych which turned him into Ember, and they were both buried in rubble in #5.
In FW#12 the Supreme Commander will be revealed as Ember's mythic enemy Volkvhy.

The Slorene storyline will be continued in FW#11 where Wanda Maximoff will take Rhodey's phone call. But there must be some considerable time between this and when Jim phoned Tony Stark in FW#8/our #12, because Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and the other Force Workers have been quite busy in the meantime. It's difficult to explain any of that by the confusion over the call to Tony (FW#8 says it's Christmas Day, WM#12 is set on New Year's Eve). It's unknown how long Rhodey was unconscious at the start of this issue, but Rhodey thinks it's been at least 30 hours.

After FW#8 ScW went off on her own to help Blade, Man-Thing and Strange in Midnight Sons Unlimited #8, then rejoined her team for Wonder Man's memorial in a backup tale in FW#9, Tales Of The Marvels: Wonder Years #2 and a backup in FW#10. She continued with the team in the main story in #9-10 (in Australia fighting dreams), Captain America #437 (helping Jack Flag and Free Spirit defeat the Serpent Society) and cameos in IM#317.
The phone call to Force Works in this issue ties in to a flashback in their #11.

The fact that Rhodey was detained in Slorenia can be used to explain why he didn't show up at Wonder Man's memorial.

There's another chronology problem at the end of the issue where it looks like Nick Fury is going to take War Machine directly into his next story next issue. But next issue Rhodey says he's already had an adventure in San Revilla after the Slorenia stuff. So I have to assume that when he contacts Jeffries in the last panel of p21 he gets sent to San Revilla. And then on the way back from there Jeffries tells him on p24 that Fury's waiting for him.
The adventure in San Revilla will be documented in the Flip Book B-sides of FW#12/WM#15/IM#317.

Nick Fury was also at Wonder Man's memorial. Since then he's been in the Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty GN getting tangled up in the feud (carried forward from some Marvel UK comics) between Night Raven and Yi Yang. And then another memorial, this time for Mr Fantastic in a backup in FF#400. (War Machine missed that 1 too, apparently by still being in Slorenia.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

War Machine #14 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue War Machine fought the armoured Rush Club (Gunship, Locomotive Breath and Sanction) in Baltimore which ended with his suit disabled by an EMP weapon. Since then he's been unconscious for a long time.

James Rhodes wakes to find himself still in the armour but chained up in an ancient tower. He breaks free and breaks out to see the rest of the old stone building. Getting in touch with the GPS satellite system he discovers he's in Tblunka, capital of Baltic state Slorenia. Detecting someone above him he flies up to confront Locomotive Breath, who says he doesn't want a fight.

He claims to have closed down the Rush Club and handed his 2 partners over to the police. But he's brought War Machine here to his homeland Slorenia to help his people. He takes off his helmet and introduces himself as Laslo Magzel (so Loco in the last 2 issues was a nickname, a shortened version of his armoured id). He claims to be a virtually-immortal mutant with a skill with machinery. Governments and corporations pay him for those skills. And he built armour for the Rush Club because the thrill of battle alleviated the boredom of a long life. But now WM has inspired him to use his abilities to stop the atrocities the Slorene government was doing to its own people.

Magzel takes War Machine to the ghetto of the Dudak minority population where they see innocent people being slaughtered by crazed beings he calls the Targoth. Some of the people are rounded up and taken to Camps where they will be genetically mutated into more Targoth. Rhodes can't stand by and watch this. He wades in and KOs the Targoth, and then turns to the human troops that accompany them. Rubber bullets take them down. This leaves only a tank which the giant armour of Locomotive Breath quickly crushes, along with its crew.

In the catacombs below the building of the ruling Tabissara council Black Brigade and his drone robots report to the Supreme Commander that Locomotive Breath has returned with War Machine in tow. BB figures that Magzel needs access to The Program to refresh his energy reserves. Apparently Magzel created The Program for them, along with Brigade's armour (and his Drones?). He relies on The Program for his extended life, but so does the Commander so they're not going to let him have it. The Commander sends Brigade to deal with the intruders.

It's time for this issue's Sheva Joseph bit. She's in Chile for Worldwatch investigating human rights violations. Local journalist Jorge Mantone leads her into the Forbidden Zone of Santiago to find out what's happening. Jewish Sheva is horrified to find swastika symbols. And then the pair are discovered.

War Machine tries to report *his* HR violations to Worldwatch but atmospheric conditions make communications impossible at the moment. Instead Magzel leads him out of the city to the abandoned Winter Palace where he believes the Targoth are created. Armed guards suggest he's right. LB charges them, and they report his presence before fleeing in terror. Black Brigade and his Drones take their place, and battle commences. But Magzel leaves WM to fight them alone as he heads into the Palace. BB suggests Magzel's motives aren't as pure as he made out. Rhodey suspected that all along, but he's quite happy to shred Drones until Brigade lets him go see what Locomotive Breath is really up to.

Magzel is in ruined cellars searching for something, detecting it by its power output. He unearths the Eternal Triptych (that we saw empowered Ember, champion of the Dudaks, in Force Works #5). He's going to use it as *his* source of power now that the Tabissara have cut him off from The Program. Locomotive Breath had used  War Machine to hold off Black Brigade while he achieved his task.

War Machine attacks Magzel before he can open the Triptych. But LB's blows damage the weapon pack on WM's back. Magzel opens the artefact, but its power is too much for him and he and the Triptych are destroyed in a blaze of light. War Machine emerges from the rubble to tell Brigade what happened.

But when they've left there's no-one to notice another figure rising. It is the resurrected Ember (possibly occupying the body of Laslo Magzel).

The next day Jim Rhodes is in Berlin. He rings up Force Works HQ and talks to Scarlet Witch because he knows they fought Black Brigade and Ember in their #4-5. He tells her about the Targoth. Then he checks in with Worldwatch and talks to Ranald Jeffries who tells him he's needed back there. Angry (when isn't he) Nick Fury wants to talk to him.

Dave Chlystek
Tim Dzon
Ariane Lenshoek
Jim Calafiore (Cover Penciler)
Johnny Green (Cover Inker)
Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Mark Gruenwald.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Black Brigade, Ember (Jason Pierce), Locomotive Breath, Ranald Jeffries, Sheva Joseph, Targoth, Volkvhy.

> War Machine: Book info and issue index

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