What an odd trade. This clearly wasn’t written for the collected format. Nick Spencer spends the first few issues setting up James Rhodes’ new status quo. After the War Machine armor fails him in the field, Rhodes becomes Iron Man 2.0, and gets a gig with the military again. He’s “on loan” to a General so that the military doesn’t use someone else. Rhodes has a team of intelligence contractors, but throughout this trade they don’t get to do much more than fill in the background. They are too vanilla to make an impression.
Spencer clearly likes his “Palmer Addley is dead” through line, the phrase comes up at least once an issue for the first half of the book. And Addley has some potential. His creations are being used in “real world” type terrorist attacks, very much in the vein of Matt Fractions early Iron Man work with Ezekiel Stane. The neatest bit is when Spencer spends an entire issue revealing a bit (but not too much) about Addley through archived interviews. This is an interesting baddie!
Too bad he disappears halfway through the book. In a jarring change in tone, the book suddenly becomes a Fear Itself tie in. Titania and Absorbing Man do a quick walk on to pick up a hammer before wandering out of the book; I assume their story is resolved elsewhere.
Then, Iron Man 2.0 is teleported with Iron Fist and the other Deadly Weapons to stop a spiritual jailbreak from the Eighth City. Oh, and while they are there, they meet up with the Monkey King.
… I’m sorry, what? How in the world do these stories fit together? This is one of those times where having your main character voice the same confusion just makes things worse. When Rhodes says “I hate magic. Why am I here?” and stuff like that, I had to agree with him. This is a story for a different character. The collection ends with Dr. Strange talking about the magical entity that possessed Iron Fist. In an Iron Man comic?
Barry Kitson is the first credited artist on the cover, but it sure doesn’t seem like he did a whole lot of this. I love his art, but there aren’t a lot of pages boasting his tight pencils. He’s joined by a legion of fill-in artists, too many to list here. The drastic change in artistic tone, along with the jarring shift in plot from military industrial complex to magic makes this feel like a book that had no direction.
I still love James Rhodes. But I liked him as War Machine. Or maybe Iron Patriot. I think Iron Man 2.0 is insulting. I’ll keep waiting for a book that handles Rhodey with respect and a clear direction. This book is another in a long line of EVIL War Machine comics.