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War Machine #1: Review

Dec 2008
Greg Pak, Leonardo Manco

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

War Machine #1 Review by (July 13, 2012)
The issues of this series have no titles. Sources divide the 12 issue run into named arcs, but it's all really one long story about Ultimo technology. And the 1st 5-issue tale doesn't have any name other than Dark Reign.

This series is set during Dark Reign. War Machine is operating from the Stark satellite he used in Secret Invasion.

James Rhodes has been a cyborg throughout Avengers: Initiative and his War Machine: Weapon of SHIELD story during Secret Invasion in Iron Man (2005) #33-25, but no explanation was given before now. (The A:I and SHIELD tales were written by Christos Gage, but it is Greg Pak who is explaining the cyborgisation.) More of the event which left him maimed will be revealed in a flashback in #7. He's cyborg in Iron Man (2008) #11 but not in #21, which is why this series happens in the large gap between IM#13 and #14. The end of this series will show why he's not a cyborg later.

Marvel Chronology Project and the Official Indexes put this series fairly early in Dark Reign, almost immediately after IM#8-13. Norman Osborn had formed his Cabal and the Dark Avengers and replaced SHIELD with HAMMER before IM#8, among his opening moves. In IM#8-13 he sent various operatives after Tony Stark who had the only copy of the Superhero Registration database in his head. In #11 Iron Man and War Machine pretended to fight so Osborn wouldn't have an excuse to arrest Rhodey as an accomplice.
Since #13 NO has only had time to check in on Elektra's interrogation in DR: Elektra #1 p7-8.

War Machine's Secret Invasion story explained that his current armour and the satellite are Stane tech, which was why they survived the Skrull virus which took out all Stark tech. I believe this also makes him untrackable by Norman Osborn's forces.

Jim lost his original armour in War Machine v1 #17. For the rest of that series he used the alien Warwear, but he lost that in Tales of the Marvel Universe #1 while Iron Man was away in the Heroes Reborn universe. After that he lived without armour, except for using a gauntlet from an old suit in the Crew mini-series. Until he donned Sentinel armour in some X-Men-related stories after House of M and during Civil War. That brings us to his maiming, his cyborg career and the new Stane tech armour.

The vibranium in the new armour is the Wakandan vibration-absorbing variety, not the vibration-producing stuff from the Savage Land.

What happened to the old War Machine armour? Well this is where Parnell Jacobs comes in. IM (1998) #19 told us that he found the armour and sold it to Stuart Clarke (who used to be the armoured villain Rampage). Clarke modified it, and Jacobs wore it while they worked for Sunset Bain against Tony Stark in IM#11-14 and #18-20. #20 filled in the rest of Jacobs' and Rhodes' joint past. We met Glenda Sandoval during these issues too.

The Bain/Clarke/Jacobs triangle resurfaced in Punisher War Journal #17 where Clarke was working for Punisher. It ended with Clarke shooting Jacobs and taking the armour to resell. We don't know what happened to it after that, but maybe it's part of the stuff Ezekiel Stane will use in IM (2008) #1-6. But this is where Parnell's alleged death fits in.

Bethany Cabe did several stints as Tony Stark's security chief, the last one leading up to Heroes Reborn. The flashback here indicates that he recruited her again to work with War Machine after Civil War.

Leonardo Manco's detailed European-style art is excellent for combat situations, especially explosions.

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Synopsis / Summary / Plot

War Machine #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Santo Marco War Machine prevents a genocidal attack. The president's mercenary army is using a Sentinel to genetically identify members of rebel tribe. It seems James Rhodes has taken on this as his task during Dark Reign, a vigilante tackling mass murderers. Cue lots of shooting to kill.

During the fight Rhodey remembers another warzone a year ago where an explosion left him battered and limbless. Tony Stark gave him a new life as a cyborg, and a new War Machine armour. His body and armour weren't built from Stark Tech, and were made from a titanium/vibranium alloy. Bethany Cabe was involved in his rebuild, and she promised him a more human body eventually.

During the fight he also spots someone he knows. Parnell Jacobs saved Rhodey's life when they were in the marines, and married Jim's childhood friend Dr Glenda Sandoval. He later became a gun runner, currently supplying San Marco's dictator. He also found Rhodey's old lost War Machine armour, sold it to Stuart Clarke, and then used it to try to kill Iron Man.

War Machine takes Jacobs to his orbital satellite, where robotic surgeons patch him up, while he communicates with Bethany Cabe in Colorado. Beth warns him that repeated surgery isn't good enough, because his cyborg body is dying. She wants him to come down because his replacement body is nearly ready. But Jim intends to get Parnell to modify his War Machine armour to make it less stressful for his body.

Jacobs is about to attack Rhodey, but Jim tells him that the satellite is keyed to his body. If Jim dies, the life support will fail for Parnell.

Rhodes reveals that his priority at the moment his to rescue Jacobs' wife Glenda. Parnell says she's not missing, she's just gone off in a huff. He lay low a few months ago after being presumed dead. When he returned to Glenda she was angry at his deception. She went overseas to work as a medic for weapons manufacturer Eaglestar International. But Rhodey shows him video of Glenda captive of one side of a civil war in Aqiria.

Jacobs uses the captured Sentinel head to upgrade Rhodey's armour, and he heads for Aqiria.

Meanwhile Bethany's base is raided by HAMMER, and Norman Osborn takes a personal interest in the body she has prepared for Rhodey.


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Elektra

> War Machine: Book info and issue index

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Leonardo Manco
Leonardo Manco
Jay David Ramos
Francesco Mattina (Cover Penciler)
Francesco Mattina (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Bethany Cabe, Glenda Sandoval, H.A.M.M.E.R., Norman Osborn, Parnell Jacobs, War Machine (James Rhodes).