Thursday, 3 March 2011

New Beginnings - Iron Man 2.0 #1

I am a fairly new Iron Man fan but even so I am aware of the back stories and history. A major component - or character should I say - is Colonel James Rhodes, Rhodey as he is affectionately known or War Machine as he is destructively known. Over time Rhodey has grown and developed and now we have a new beginning for him in Iron Man 2.0.

Written by Nick Spenser the story opens with a seemingly random piece of information, which falls into place a little later, simple and nice as it gives you a lightbulb moment. Spenser did a good job of setting the scene quickly and easily for bigger things.

Switching the scene, Spenser then goes on to explain the why of War Machine. The dynamic between Stark and Rhodes is still a jovial one, banter at worst but underlying sincerity at best, and this simple vehicle gives the issue its credibility. Working under the principle of “If it’s not me then it’ll be someone else in a Stark suit”, Rhodey becomes another Government lackey, unfortunately for him under someone who really doesn’t like him. The change in story works but there is also another change which I found tricky to swallow.

Here we have an issue with one central writer and four artists which on a 21 page issue seems excessive. With each perspective shift we are given a different style ranging from Larroca (who only did the cover but has done some great work in The Invincible Iron Man) to sections, which are lacking definition and feel almost messy. In what I can only describe as the watercolour equivalent of comic book art the changes, almost by the page, becomes confusing and detracts from the story.

I have liked comics in the past for the story even if the artwork isn’t the strongest. This is true to a degree here but for the wrong reasons. If you strip away the whistles and bells the premise that is alluded to is one from another genre I like, Asian horror, where we see (and I could be wrong as I am making a big assumption here) the body parts of a person influencing another.

I can see this being a relatively short arc as a result and wonder if this has simply been used to push War Machine back into the mainstream. The bigger picture is of course War Machine, the military tool, but how far can this really go? There is the 'rock' and 'hard place' feel for Rhodey when you consider his position between a boss who detests him and a team who resent him but we’ve been given nothing but for surface details and nothing to really digest.

The issue felt conflicted and in places contrived, as it fell in between scene setting and character embedding without fully committing to either enough to make you feel satisfied. Combined with the changing artwork I am left wondering about a great many things. Half of which have nothing to do with the comic.

For once I have to say that this is a comic that hasn’t grabbed me either visually or intellectually. I may flick through a copy from time to time out of curiosity but this one isn’t for me.

Matt Puddy was warned...

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