If you remember the “West Coast Avengers” series from years gone by, then Greg Pak has a special treat for you. Following the activities of the past few issues, James Rhodes has to answer to former teammates about the deeds he has meted out in the name of justice. Pak does a great job of pacing this tale and highlighting the personalities of the Wackos (as Ben Grimm used to call them) as he uses Clint “I Can’t Believe He’s Not Hawkeye” Barton to crack the shell of what is really going on. Rhodey opens up to Barton, who is proven to be wrong more than once in this issue. The rest of the former West Coast Avengers (could a retro California based team be a possible future of the “Initiative”?) aren’t quite sure that Rhodey hasn’t passed the point of redemption.
Manco’s art is very heavy on the photo reference feel, but it carries enough grit and energy with it that it feels more organic than staged. To craft organic drawings in a story featuring technology gone hideously wrong is no small feat. Due to the heavy use of grit and the nature of Rhodey and Ultimo’s assimilations, the action gets a little murky in the end of the story, but the whole of the story reveals the conclusion of that confrontation.
I didn’t realize how much I missed the West Coast Avengers until I read this issue, and now I want more. I’m thrilled that Pak saw fit to have these characters set aside their own political disagreements to reach out to a friend. Tigra, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, and Hawkeye (sorry, he’s Clint Barton + bow and arrows = Hawkeye) will definitely be back next issue, so Pak will have another chance to give these characters room to breathe.
With the recent revelation that War Machine — with Don Cheadle playing the part of James Rhodes — does, indeed, appear in “Iron Man 2,” this book is set to gain a little more recognition. Of course, the fact that Francesco Mattina’s cover looks like a “Transformers” movie poster is sure to help sell a few extra copies of this book. If you miss the West Coast Avengers, do yourself a favor and pick this book up. Of course, you don’t have to be a fan of the West Coast Avengers to enjoy a tech-fueled explosives test centered on one man’s quest to right wrongs.