By Ben Morse
“War Machine must evolve or die.”
So says editor Alejandro Arbona of what lies ahead for Tony Stark’s best friend and fellow armored hero James Rhodes. And on January 19, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 will not only offer a glimpse into the future of the Golden Avenger, but also a look at the next step for Rhodey in a special preview from writer Nick Spencer and artist Barry Kitson, the creative team of the upcoming IRON MAN 2.0 ongoing series.
“For an IRON MAN 2.0 preview in the pages of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500, we didn’t just pull a scene from [the first issue]; this is an original teaser story,” Arbona explains. “In order to tee up the three-part launch arc of the new series, this story sums up the premise and the status quo: War Machine, always an ally of Tony Stark’s, is working directly for the Pentagon in matters of national security, as their own personal Iron Man version 2. But when he’s faced with a mysterious new threat that he can’t fight head-on, James Rhodes is forced to confront the reality of modern warfare: his methods are conventional in a world where war has become unconventional and asymmetrical.
“The enemy is no longer a national body with a regular army that sticks to the rules of engagement. Today’s wars are fought against rogue groups, insurgent factions, networks of cells—formless, stateless, decentralized, invisible enemies. And when an all-new super villain rises up to challenge Rhodey in this modern mode of combat, War Machine needs to level up if he stands any chance of survival in the twenty-first century.”
As to Rhodey’s immediate future, Arbona further expands on what we’ll see in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500:
“Our short story sees Rhodey, Tony Stark, and Rhodey’s boss at the Pentagon, General Babbage, puzzling over a mysterious clue, while War Machine takes a shellacking in a fight and a nuclear device goes off, pushing the region to the brink of nuclear combat.”
If the name of War Machine’s new commanding officer sounds familiar, it should, as the General will provide one of several ongoing ties to INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.
“General Babbage was one of Tony Stark’s key antagonists during the ‘Stark Resilient’ arc—and now he’s War Machine’s boss,” notes Arbona. “Because Babbage colluded with Hammer Industries to break the law and take Tony Stark off the playing field, Tony and Maria Hill placed War Machine in the Pentagon to be their eyes on Babbage. Now the U.S. military has their own Iron Man at last, but Rhodey’s boss doesn’t like him or trust him, and Rhodey has [to] fight an implacable new super villain who wants to set the world at war, all the while trying not to get a knife in his back.”
Past the two preview pages here and the story to come in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500, what can be expected from IRON MAN 2.0 beginning with its first issue on February 9? Take it away. Mr. Arbona!
“Super villainy! Terrorism! Combat! Mystery! An all-new villain like no bad guy you’ve ever seen before! Geopolitical destabilization in the mighty Marvel manner! And to keep up with it all, War Machine dons all-new, bleeding-edge armor for a new age!”