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Royal Reviews: Iron Man 2.0 #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Tuesday, March 01 2011 and posted in Reviews

James Rhodey, the erstwhile War Machine, gets a new ongoing issue written by Nick Spencer!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

IRON MAN 2.0 #1 & #2
Penciled by BARRY KITSON
Spinning directly out of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN!

New mission! New armor! New Iron Man! Lt. Col. James Rhodes is War Machine...the single most advanced one-man weapon of conventional combat. But wars aren't fought the way they used to be – and when Rhodey has to face a mysterious enemy he can't shoot, can't bomb, can't even see, he's going to be forced to evolve...or die. Find out why War Machine becomes Iron Man 2.0 in the 3-part launch arc of this all-new ongoing series! By breakout sensation Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Action Comics) and the legendary Barry Kitson (INCREDIBLE HULKS, THE ORDER)!
ISSUE ONE – 40 PGS./Rated T+...$3.99
ISSUE TWO – 32 PGS./Rated T+...$2.99


Branding has proven to be very important to the Big 2 publishers.  These are big universes that continue to grow and grow with each passing month, and sometimes trade dress and mastheads help keep the whole thing in some semblance of order.  That's why we get Heroic Ages, Dark Reigns, Brightest Days, Brand New Days, and a whole host of other buzzwords atop our comic book covers.  Branding makes things easier to sell. 

Of course, this seeps down to the individual characters themselves sometimes.  James Rhodes was always a second stringer.  He was never more than a fill-in or sidekick to Iron Man.  A perpetual supporting member.  There's nothing wrong with that, of course.  Large, fully developed fictional worlds need their B-listers.  But they need those B-listers to be what they are.  James Rhodes was a superhero in his own right.  He was War Machine.  But, as evidenced by his short-lived previous series, the name "War Machine" doesn't sell that well.  The name Iron Man apparently moves some paper in a post-Robert Downey Jr. world.  So, James Rhodes doesn't get to even be War Machine anymore.  Now, he's IRON MAN 2.0.  Branding. 

Up-and-coming comic book writer Nick Spencer provides an in-story explanation for why Rhodey basically becomes just another warm body in a cold, metal suit, but that's as far as the story gets in terms of character development.  From there on out, IRON MAN 2.0 #1 is a briefing in a small conference room, where James Rhodes learns about a possible new threat.  It's an interesting origin for what appears to be a new villain.  It's nice to get the plot going, but it's strange to see so little page space devoted to depicting the main character as a character.  Granted, James Rhodes has been a comic book character for about three decades or so, so readers are probably already familiar with him, but the first issue of a new ongong really ought to show why this particular character is in this particular situation.  That doesn't happen here.  It almost feels like Marvel is simply saying "hey kids, you like Iron Man, right?  Well, here's another one!  And that's all you need to know about him.  He's Iron Man.  Iron Man 2.0, in fact!"

If more evidence is needed that James Rhodes is little more than an afterthought, look no further than the art credits, and you'll find three pencillers.  Barry Kitson (who seems to be trying out a different style), Carmine di Giandomedico, and Kano all do a good (or good enough) job, but they don't particularly fit well together.  Having each artist rotate through the book a couple of pages at a time is a curious choice, one that doesn't really add anything to the book other than a distraction.  Any of these pencillers could have taken on this issue by himself and the it would not have suffered at all.   Putting them all together has an adverse effect. 

Spencer has shown himself to be capable of a high-concept story, and in that regard he could be a good fit for the Iron Man area of the Marvel Universe, but here's hoping he gets to do so with James Rhodes, not just another Iron Man. 

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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