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Monday, June 27, 2016

War Machine Is A LAME Character

I’m a big Jim Rhodes fan. He’s one of my favorite comic characters in the Marvel Universe. When I saw him in the original David Micheline/JRJR/Bob Layton comics in my Brother’s comic collection as a kid I became an Iron Man fan for life. 

But I’m gonna go on record saying War Machine is a LAME character.

Yeah, I love the War Machine Armor. When I first saw it in Iron Man #282 it was a badass looking design. With it’s black and silver it looked like Iron man was ready to kick someone’s ass.

But when you take another look at War Machine from a creative standpoint as a character separate from Iron Man it’s a hollow concept.

Basically War Machine is just an Iron Man suit painted black and silver with a bunch of guns bolted to it. That’s cool in theory. Until you realize that the Iron Man suit features some of the most advanced weapons in the Marvel Universe. So the guns are kind of redundant.

Seriously, what does Iron Man need with guns on his arms when he has repulsor rays that can shatter mountains? Why does Iron Man need shoulder mounted mini missiles to damage something when he has pulse bolts that can demolish a building in seconds? And what can a Gatling gun on your shoulder do that a Uni-beam or a finger laser can’t?

Just seems stupid when you think about it. Especially when you realize that Iron Man suits are invulnerable, are strong enough to knock out the Hulk and have advanced targeting computers.

Yeah, guns, guns guns. That flash and go boom, but they have no substance when it’s time to write a story.

The only thing LAMER than War Machine is Simon Baz’s gun. Seriously, you have the most powerful weapon in the universe and you still want to carry a piece? I thought the standard for becoming a Green Lantern was being completely honest and totally fearless. Baz just looks like a fraidy cat holding that nine millimeter security blanket instead of wielding that power ring like a boss.

Anyway, What really makes War Machine LAME is the fact that Jim Rhodes proved to the world he had what it took to be Iron Man during Tony Stark’s second fall off the wagon in the 1980s. Of course he couldn’t fix anything, but he knew his way around the operating systems well enough to fight in the original Secret Wars.

And the Silver Centurion armor was originally designed for Rhodey to wear, not Tony Stark.

So why give him this second rate suit featuring a bunch of guns bolted to it? Is it a consolation prize for not getting the chance to wear the BOSS Silver Centurion suit back in the 80’s? I mean, War Machine looks COOL from a design standpoint. But as a concept for a superhero War Machine is just so one dimensional.

Don’t get me wrong, Rhodey’s a great character. But I always felt his best role was supporting Tony Stark. As the sidekick he added something to Iron Man stories. A voice of reason. A best friend. A partner who got him out of a jam with a badguy so he could suit up. I’m cool with him putting on a suit and helping out in an emergency or for a run of Iron Man comics.

But Jim Rhodes as War Machine full time always felt forced. Clumsy. Awkward. I bought the first couple of issues of the original run of War Machine comics back in the 1990’s and they were absolutely TERRIBLE. The worst direction the character could have ever taken. In those solo stories Jim lost his “voice” and went absolutely nowhere. The character had no mission, no purpose and no substance. It was clear from the first issue that the writers just didn’t know what to do with him when they had him armor up.

Rhodey had armor and an attitude, but he didn’t have any of the elements needed for a compelling comic story. Rhodey didn’t have Tony’s inventiveness or tech savviness. So he couldn’t fix an Iron man suit or create a new gadget or specialty weapon like a proton cannon to save the day. He didn’t have Tony’s battle experience so he didn’t have a deep roster of bad guys. And he didn’t have Tony’s money so he couldn’t even buy things like those mini missiles or the bullets for the Gatling gun on that War Machine suit.

When you boil it down Jim Rhodes as War machine is basically a guy who owns an Iron man suit with a bunch of guns attached to it. That gets kind of old. Seriously, how many stories can you write about a guy flying around in an Iron man suit with guns on it shooting at things?

Bob Layton, one of Jim Rhodes’ co-creators said that putting Jim Rhodes in an Iron Man suit was a mistake years ago. And I agree with him. Just like Superman needs civilians like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to fit into the background of his world to make him appear powerful, Tony Stark needed Jim Rhodes to be in the background of Iron Man comics. Civilians play an important role in the supporting cast of a superhero comic. And sometimes the best characters in a comic are the ones who aren’t in costume.

Again, I’m a big Jim Rhodes fan. And I love the War Machine suit. But putting the two together to make a new superhero just doesn’t work. War Machine is just a guy an Iron Man suit with a bunch of guns attached to it. And while it has flash, it just doesn’t have the substance to make it stand on its own from a creative standpoint. Who needs a guy in an Iron Man suit with a bunch of guns on it to do what Iron man already does without them?


  1. Thank you! Been trying to preach this for years.

  2. Rhodes should have kept the Eidolon Warwear. It was just too similar to Guy Gardner's Vuldarian evolution, at the time.