As James Rhodes plummets to the depths of the ocean in defunct Iron Patriot armor, his country and his family are both the targets of an organized terrorist attack. For a book that operates under the title “Iron Patriot,” this issue has surprisingly little to do with the titular star, spending roughly half of its page time on Rhodey’s father and niece. Ales Kot and Garry Brown’s “Iron Patriot” #2 is a quick read that doesn’t quite sink its hooks into readers, operating with a middling story and uninspired artwork.
After introducing readers to Rhodey’s father and his niece Lila in the first issue, Kot spends a little time fleshing them out in the second by throwing them into a character-defining situation. The writer does an excellent job showing the resourcefulness of this grandfather-granddaughter duo in their own distinct ways, giving his audience someone to root for as opposed to the broader scenes of destruction taking place all around the country. While Kot provides a gripping lead-in with a short historical bit on the Washington monument which extends this into the much wider scope of destruction, his focus on these supporting characters is what keeps the story afloat. Likewise, Rhodey’s dire situation reads with an steady level of suspense and culminates in an appropriately climactic cliffhanger. As he sinks to the bottom of the ocean, his narration — intertwining with his dialogue and music — twists with a natural, almost lyrical sound for an absolutely stunning splash page, thanks in equal part to Brown’s dynamic layout and Clayton Cowles’s ingenious lettering design.
While the overarching story is structurally sound, the plot falls apart in the details. For instance, the kidnapping takes place on a rather crowded suburban street in broad daylight, ultimately attracting no neighborly attention. Additionally, on pure happenstance, Rhodey’s ejected suit manages to take out a couple of the sludge monsters that he went down fighting. These instances, among others, make it a little hard to suspend your disbelief for the purposes of the story.
Although Kot’s writing relies on him heavily for some action sequences, Brown’s style is disappointingly sparse. He incorporates little detail into the backgrounds of his panels to the point of distraction; his most egregious offense shows the Rhodes’ approaching kidnappers out of a window, which Brown depicts as all grass and a clear blue sky despite later depicting a street full of houses across the street. He goes a little too thick on the shading, ultimately obscuring or distorting facial expressions. Similarly, the few details that Brown does incorporate get lost in the inking; for example, it’s terribly easy to miss Lila as she hides on her house’s rooftop to evade her kidnappers. What’s more, the action sequences get confusing under the weight of extraneous lines. Colorist Jim Charalampidis does the best he can with what he has, working with a small a pallet of colors that seem to focus on red, white and blue that ties into the heavy handed patriotic theme of the book.
Ultimately, “Iron Patriot” #2 is a lackluster followup to mediocre debut. Although Kot makes some promising moves, the story gets bogged down by small inconsistencies, unbelievable happenstance, and Brown’s dull artwork.