When Marvel announced that one of the solo books they were launching for All-New Marvel NOW! was Iron Patriot featuring James Rhodes, formerly War Machine, I was pretty damn excited. POC superheroes with their own books are very, very few in the Marvel universe, and with Rhodey getting such a big launch, things were looking promising, and I said as much in a feature I did last year about the racial and gender diversity of various All-New Marvel NOW! books. And this week, the character finally got his new book.
Being familiar with the character through the Iron Man movies, I was expecting something different here. The movies didn’t really go into Rhodey being War Machine, but pretty much established him straight up as Iron Patriot and then fudged that up with a really stupid plotline in Iron Man 3. So I was looking to see how Ales Kot would handle things different. Suffice to say, I’m very disappointed and Iron Patriot #1 is one of Marvel’s weakest new launches. The art by Garry Brown and Jim Charalampidis leaves a lot to be desired as well, being very confusing all the way through.
The cover, from Garry Brown, should perhaps have been an indication of how the issue was going to pan out. I get what Garry was trying to do here, but the result just isn’t all that appealing. Certainly not for me. The blues and reds don’t contrast so well together, certainly not with the shades that are used, and it all just flows together into one confusing image.
For the story itself here, it is one extended piece about how Iron Patriot is going to focus his efforts on American issues and that his area of operations is going to be limited to his country. If there are any abroad missions of mercy or assistance that are requested, he might participate in those, but his focus is limited. I guess you could even say that his focus is going to be myopic, but it is a bit unfair too since he is a soldier first and foremost and his primary duty is to his country. But you have to consider that when there are already hundreds of heroes out there in America, which is pretty much superhero mecca, having a character claim as such is just unexciting. And it is boring. And it doesn’t thin him out of the crowd. This could have been a great opportunity to promote Iron Patriot as a global hero, which would have been a boost for American armed forces morale and such, but it is all wasted.
There’s some kind of a subplot involving a Japanese concern having some stake in Iron Patriot’s decision and being opposed to it, which leads to a former Congressman and an ally denouncing Rhodey, and then his niece taking up the cause for him, but that was just boring as well. I mean, I really didn’t have any reason throughout the comic to care what the character was doing, so I had no reason to care what happened to the character. Ales Kot seems to be going for some kind of a cerebral story here, but it just didn’t work for me, and that leaves me saddened since I really wanted to like this comic.
At the moment, I’m going to wait and see how the second issue is received among reviewers on the big trade sites before making a decision to read it myself, because this is not a series that I can see myself investing in.
Garry Brown’s Iron Patriot and Rhodey are rather weird-looking all the way through. The armour looks stiff in every appearance and all the characters appear to have rather wooden, locked, expressions all the way through. I would say that overall there is some polish missing from the pencils because I kept thinking that Brown had stopped refining the pencils at the sketch stage and had just submitted the pages to the colourist. Jim Charalampidis’ colours felt dull and boring as well. In the early pages he goes for panels coloured in a very limited palette, and this is something that crops up again and again later on. The art and the details therein never really pop off the page.
So like I said, Iron Patriot #1 is among the worst of the new series launched by Marvel, and it has a huge curve of improvement ahead of itself.