The Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, AKA: the War Machine armor, is one of the most dangerous things Tony Stark has ever built. It was designed for all-out warfare and is the most heavily armed of any of Stark's designs, so there's really only man Stark would trust with it: his friend and confidant, James "Rhodey" Rhodes. This December, Rhodey will be turning his many weapons on some of the most deadly and despicable people in the Marvel Universe, when the new "War Machine" ongoing series from writer Greg Pak and artist Leonardo Manco launches. CBR News spoke with Pak and Editor Bill Rosemann about the series
Pak finds Rhodey particularly compelling because of the way the character's early childhood experiences shaped him. "Jim Rhodes grew up fighting bullies on the mean streets of Philly. What I love about Rhodes is that he's an absolutely classic Marvel character in that he'll always stick up for the underdog," the writer told CBR News. "But later, as a military man, he developed a significantly different take from the average Marvel hero on the use of force, which means he'll go places few others dare. That makes for high stakes action with massive consequences -- just the kinds of dangerous stories we're itching to tell."
Rosemann agrees. "Rhodey crashes through the red tape and puppet governments, delivering justice through his huge freakin' guns," the editor remarked. "He was bullied as a kid - but learned the skills and gained the weapons needed to fight back. He won't stand for injustice, no matter where the dictators and despots hide around the world."
Rhodey is currently one of the stars of "Avengers: The Initiative," and in September, War Machine will take center stage in a three issue arc of "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." by writer Christo Gage and artist Sean Chen, which ties into "Secret Invasion." "Christos Gage's 'Secret Invasion' story will set War Machine up with a new status quo. When the new series begins, we'll shock you with another big twist or two," Pak stated "If you enjoy Christos's story, the new ongoing series should be right up your alley -- keep on reading! But folks should also have no worries about picking up from issue #1 of the new series -- everything you need to know will be right there in issue #1."
The new "War Machine" ongoing takes place in the aftermath of "Secret Invasion" and finds the title character dealing with the new twists and turns in the status quo of the Marvel Universe. "In 'Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.' #33 - #35, you'll see that when Tony Stark goes down to the Skrull virus, he launches his back-up plan, which happens to be War Machine," Rosemann stated. "Now Rhodey is faced with the responsibility to carry on Tony's fight - but Rhodey is his own man with his own way of dealing with things--which usually involves heavy ballistics!"
Pak added, "Let's just say there's someone in his sights and the safety is off."
In "Avengers: The Initiative," War Machine is tasked with protecting the United States, but Rhodey's new status quo in "War Machine" will take him all over the globe. "When Bill says the world needs a War Machine, he means the whole dang world," Pak remarked.
Pak's stories in "War Machine" will run the gamut and include everything from superhero action to straight techno-thriller and espionage tales. The writer is already knee deep in the first arc of the new series. "There's mind blowing action," he said. "A few surprisingly familiar faces. A crazy new hook. Massive emotional repercussions. And maybe even a joke or two."
In "War Machine" Rhodey will tackle more than just terrorists and super-villains. He'll set his sights on some of the most evil and powerful men in the Marvel Universe. "Every day, madmen commit heinous atrocities around the world, and no power on earth wants to take the responsibility for stopping them," Pak said. "But now War Machine's on the job -- and he's bringing his giant shoulder mounted rocket cannons, so watch out!"
Pak has also assembled a crew to help War Machine with his mission of punishing the world's mad men. "We're developing a great, quirky supporting cast that will include some key players from War Machine's past and a big surprise or two from the Iron Man mythos," the writer said.
The tone of the stories in "War Machine" could best be described as hardcore. "A Hollywood type might call it Iron Man meets the Punisher," Pak explained. "For better or for worse, Rhodey is going places few Marvel heroes would dare, and the consequences are going to be explosive."
"Remember that awesome scene in the Iron Man movie where Tony rocketed to that small village and took out all the thugs that were threatening the innocent families? That's the tone we're aiming for," Rosemann said. "It's like when you're watching the evening news and see a story about Darfur or Chechnya or Myanmar and you want to reach through your TV screen and smack some dictator upside the head. 'Why isn't anyone doing something about this?' you ask. Well, War Machine is! (If only he existed in our world.)"
Pak had always been a fan of James Rhodes, so when Rosemann offered him the new ongoing "War Machine" series the writer eagerly accepted. "This new hook fits right in with his past history while taking him to the next level," the writer remarked. "I couldn't stop thinking about it from the minute I heard Bill's pitch."
Rosemann pitched Pak and his collaborator Leonardo Manco "War Machine" because he felt both creators had proven how exceptional they were in their respective fields. "Who can forget the teeth-rattling action, heart-wrenching pathos and a year's worth of twists, turns and thrills that Greg delivered in 'Planet Hulk' and 'World War Hulk'? The guy knows how to deliver drama and adventure in the Mighty Marvel Manner!" the editor stated. "And when we started discussing the new direction for War Machine at the last editorial retreat, Greg showed tons of enthusiasm and instantly began brainstorming ideas - so we knew he had the passion and brains for the job.
"As for Leonardo, I've been a gigantic fan of his ever since I saw his art on 'Blaze of Glory', 'Apache Skies' and 'Werewolf by Night'," Rosemann continued. "His art is so gritty, I feel like I need to clean under my fingernails after I read one of his stories. His tech designs, his use of shadows, his ability to capture both the fragility and strength of humanity--Leonardo is a true artist with an avalanche of energy and heart who will deliver a War Machine that will truly blow you away."
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