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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Is Rhodey’s Mom Dead or What?

by  in Comic News Comment

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the life and death and life of James “War Machine” Rhodes’ mother…

Nick Marino suggested this one.

James Rhodes’ mother first showed up in Iron Man #173 where she babysits a drunk Tony Stark while Rhodey takes care of some stuff as the new Iron Man. Tony gives her the slip and that was it for Rhodey’s mother for quite some time.

In Iron Man #264, Rhodey has to disguise himself as Tony Stark (via some holographic technology) to fool some reporters. Rhodey obviously feels a bit about it, and he notes…


Now either writer John Byrne forgot that it had been established that Rhodey’s mom was alive or he decided it was better for Rhodey’s mom to be dead. I dunno which.

However, a few years later, Dan Abnett has Rhodey go home to Philadelphia in War Machine #12 and both of his parents are alive and well…



Well, alive and bigoted, perhaps, but otherwise well!

Later in the issue, Rhodey’s girlfriend shows up and her reception is rough…


Rhodey gets caught up in superhero business and calls to check on his girlfriend the next issue…


At first we’re supposed to believe that Rae is crying just because Rhodey’s parents are jerks, but later we learn that they told her Rhodey has a kid he never told her about. I Would count this for Abandoned an’ Forsaked except that they never actually really establish that it is true. Rhodey even says that he doesn’t believe it is true and rather that it sounds like his parents just made it up to mess wit Rae, so I don’t think that this was ever established enough to even BE abandoned.

By the way, after he calls to check in on her in War machine #13, do you know the next time that he actually talks to Rae, let alone sees her again? War Machine #24!!! Abnett just has Rhodey completely ignore his girlfriend for over ten issues! Obviously there were plenty of adventures mixed in there (including a time travel story where he lost his original armor) but there was plenty of down time, as well. So geez louise, Rhodey, you can’t CALL your girlfriend!?

ALSO by the way, I love how the above page is set up. Rae, of course, has to be in lingerie while crying about Rhodey. Of COURSE she does. Excellent decision, Dave Chlystek!

Anyhow, over a decade later, Rhodey’s mom pops up in the sixth issue of the second War Machine series (third if you count Chuck Austen’s U.S. War Machine), as writer Greg Pak has her set up in Navajo country as an attempt by Rhodey to protect her (by taking her out of the United States proper)…





I personally think that Pak has abandoned and forsaked Rhodey’s dad here, as the flashbacks (beginning with the “South Philadelphia. Many years ago” caption) all seem to heavily imply that Rhodey’s mom raised him by herself, but since it does not OUTRIGHT write his dad off, we can still believe that he died and/or divorced Rhodey’s mom and has not been officially abandoned and forsaked.

Interesting journey, Nick, thanks for the suggestion!