WW Philly: Gage Unleashes War Machine

The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D has a new director.

Announced Saturday at Wizard World Philadelphia, veteran television and comic writer Christos Gage ("Avengers: The Initiative" and "Man with No Name") will pen a three-issue "Secret Invasion" arc on "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D" beginning with #33.

Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann confirmed for CBR News that a new regular creative team will be named shortly for #36 and beyond that will replace the outgoing writing tandem of Daniel and Charles Knauf.

Gage shared some major plot points from his arc with CBR News with a warning for the Skrulls to watch out for War Machine.

"As we've seen in 'Secret Invasion' #1, Iron Man has fallen to a Skrull virus that has crippled all StarkTech worldwide. When he goes down, it activates a failsafe, and his best friend, James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, gets a message asking him to carry on the fight," explained Gage. "Unbeknownst even to Rhodey himself, Tony designed the new War Machine armor not to use any StarkTech in case of just such a situation. Now Rhodey is left alone to take the battle to the Skrulls. And he does!"

And Gage said War Machine isn't fooling around.

"You're going to see War Machine taking on the Skrull armada and really cutting loose," said Gage, who also noted James Rhodes is now a cyborg, as seen in the pages of "Avengers: The Initiative" #11.

Gage considers Tony Stark one of the most fascinating characters currently active in the Marvel Universe, especially since the events surrounding "Civil War."

"Tony's very purposefully put himself in a position where he has to make very difficult decisions, often with no absolutely good outcome," said Gage. "That's really admirable and impressive; I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."

Or StarkTech boots for that matter.

The writer also loves that while Iron Man embodies the amazing things technology can do, Tony Stark remains a character everyone can relate to.

"The other day I was watching someone using an iPhone to access the internet, touching the screen and calling up information about anything imaginable just like that, and I thought to myself, 'We're living in a Jetsons world.' Iron Man is the ultimate fantasy of the limitless possibilities of technology combined with human ingenuity," Gage explained.

"As for Tony Stark, in a Marvel Universe filled with flawed characters, he's perhaps the most flawed major character, and I think it humanized him tremendously. He's really a well-rounded, complex person, and I think the fact that he makes mistakes, but keeps trying to do the right thing, makes him very relatable."

Gage first discovered the character in a 1970s' comic where Iron Man teamed up with Daredevil to fight the Blood Brothers.

"Then I really got into the classic David Michelinie/Bob Layton run," said Gage. "When I look at the cover of #150, where he fights Dr. Doom, I still get chills."

And while he admitted writing Iron Man at quite arguably the height of the character's popularity (what with two ongoing titles, a key role in all of the Avengers books and "Secret Invasion," not to mention a blockbuster movie) is incredibly satisfying, the best part of writing the superhero is the fact he grew up reading him as a kid.

"Every time I get to do that, whether it's Iron Man or Devil Dinosaur, it's an unbelievable thrill," said Gage, who loved the "Iron Man" movie.

"As far as what I took away from it, I think it's more of a general sense, a feeling. The feeling of how cool Iron Man and War Machine are. Seeing the suit brought to life like that, not to sell short the fine performances of the actors, was a nice reminder of how awesome these guys can and should be," said Gage. "It's easy for longtime comic fans to get used to guys in armor flying around and shooting repulsor rays from their hands, but I hope to convey that feeling of awe and excitement in my issues. And with Sean Chen on art, I've certainly got a leg up in doing so."

In closing, because we had to ask, CBR News confronted Gage with the question on everybody's mind.

Is Iron Man a Skrull?

To which Gage quipped, "Which Iron Man? I saw two of them in 'Secret Invasion' #1."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Marvel Comics forum.

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