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War Machine #5: Review

Aug 1994
Scott Benson, Gabriel Hardman

Story Name:

The wages of death

Review & Comments

4 stars

War Machine #5 Review by (January 22, 2019)
Scott Benson and Len Kaminski share the scripting again.

Like Eda Arul and Imaya in the previous story arc, Deathtoll and Corteña have been invented for this story. As has the mystery businessman who next issue will be named Leviticus. His dialogue here suggests that his shadowy group is not the same as the people the Advisor worked for in the Imayan story.

Paula Lin and Travis Berkeley are new chars too.

This issue has to be split to allow War Machine to guest star in Night Thrasher #17 after he joins Worldwatch at the beginning (and it makes sense for him to go see Rae 1st too). (But in NT#17 Rhodey is in Santo Rico on a Worldwatch investigation, which means that Corteña here *isn't* their 1st foray.)  Berkeley appears in NT#17 alongside Dr Jeffries.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

War Machine #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The assassin Deathtoll (Saint Van Sant) is killing some Yakuza in Japan. He gets shot by multiple bullets, falls and bursts into flames. But then he stands up, flames off and kills the rest of the Yakuza. And leaves singing.

He takes a call in his hotel room from a businessman who's concerned about War Machine's actions in Imaya (#1-4). Such a loose cannon might interfere with *his* business so he wants him killed. Deathtoll takes the job for a quarter of a million dollars up front. And checks a counter on his wrist which says "14 lives".

James Rhodes has returned from Imaya and gone straight to the Worldwatch office where he finds Ranald Jeffries and Rebecca Bergier outside besieged by the Press. They want to know if Worldwatch sent War Machine there to rescue their Director Vincent Cetewayo, and if they were behind the overthrow of Eda Arul's dictatorship, all of which they deny. But given that Cetewayo didn't survive who will run Worldwatch now. Rhodey answers that by saying *he*'s the new Director, and he hustles the other 2 inside where he asks them if that job which Vincent offered him (in #1) is actually still open.

Jeffries and Bergier take him to the office and introduce him to Paula Lin, Office Manager, and Travis Berkeley, computer guy. The 1st 2 then take him into what was Vincent's office to bring him up to speed. Worldwatch was designed to expose injustice and abuse of power, and as such had to appear politically neutral. War Machine's attempted rescue of Cetewayo in Imaya has compromised that neutrality. But the 3 of them agree it's worth trying to continue.

At the end of a long 1st day at work Jim goes to see his girlfriend Rae LaCoste who he apparently hasn't seen since he walked out of their argument in #1 (which here is said to be a week ago, but #1 said there were several weeks before he went to Imaya - either way a long time to leave it stewing). But Rae isn't actually angry that he hasn't even called. She reveals that she worked out he was War Machine when he fought Living Laser (in Iron Man #289).  Now she's angry that he left for Imaya without telling her what he was doing. From now on he'd better keep her in the loop.

Some time later War Machine goes to the UN General Assembly to answer the charges of invading Imaya, killing soldiers and President Arul. But WM points out that the new Imayan administration aren't pressing charges, and recalled their UN delegate in protest at the UN's censure of WM. (Surely it would have been better to send their delegate to support him.) Now he blames the UN for letting Arul get away with his atrocities.

1 delegate complains about superhuman involvement in international affairs, like this and the recent actions of the Avengers and X-Men (in the Bloodties crossover in Genosha). War Machine denies any connection to teams like the Avengers and Force Works. He works alone to defend the oppressed, if the UN won't do it.

The discussion is curtailed by Deathtoll crashing in through a translation booth window, both guns blazing. He says he's after War Machine but any security and politicians he kills along the way are a bonus. So our hero flies them both out of the building.

En route Deathtoll sticks a bomb on WM's back. And when they land he triggers it and starts shooting. But this doesn't stop Rhodey who scrunches the guy's gun up. Then he flies his foe out over the River, but Deathtoll slips out of his coat and plunges into the water. War Machine follows with his built-in air supply. However in the following underwater tussle Deathtoll breaks Jim's air feed so now they're both in danger of running out of air. And Deathtoll won't let WM take them to the surface, so Jim breaks his neck.

When War Machine brings the dead body to the river bank he jets off and leaves it there. But as rats investigate the 'corpse' it grabs 1 of them and flames on as it dies. (Rhodey's thought balloons try to ameliorate this unheroic act by saying he's just going off to puke and he'll be back to face the Cops. But we don't know if he does because we skip to the next scene.)

Next morning at Worldwatch Dr Jeffries thinks they should make some statement about War Machine's UN speech. But Rhodes fields that by proposing their 1st official assignment - to investigate a recently uncovered mass grave at Catañero (next issue revealed to be in the South American country Corteña).

Meanwhile Rebecca Bergier gets a call from Trace Miller of the Top Story TV news show to inform her that they've dug something up about her.

Elsewhere the businessman contacts Deathtoll to offer him more money to kill James Rhodes as well as War Machine because they don't want him looking into the Catañero graves. The assassin says he "went through 3 whole lives" tackling WM, a remark which his contact and we don't understand.

The next day Rhodey leads his away team into a waiting plane. Among them is Sheva Joseph who resigned from SHIELD last issue to side with War Machine. Now she's got the job he promised her. And Deathtoll is watching them.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Deathtoll, Paula Lin, Rae LaCoste, Ranald Jeffries, Rebecca Bergier, Sheva Joseph, Travis Berkeley.

> War Machine: Book info and issue index

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