By Paul Montgomery
Colonel James Rhodes once defended the globe as the armored War Machine. The moniker suited the marine’s devastating impact in a firefight, but not always his moral code.
In an all new series launching in March by writer Ales Kot and artist Garry Brown, Rhodey assumes the role of America’s stalwart caretaker, IRON PATRIOT. Tarnished by its original torchbearer, the callous Norman Osborn, the StarkTech armor and its title finally adorns a man of selfless ideals.
The new handle comes part and parcel with a freshly focused mission statement and a commitment to defending America from terrors domestic and otherworldly. Family and country will be ever paramount, but can Iron Patriot hope to safeguard either?
We spoke to Ales Kot about James Rhodes, his goals, and the country he might die to protect.
Marvel.com: What's important to James Rhodes right now, and what is his plan to safeguard those things?
Ales Kot: Everyone is important to James Rhodes, because James Rhodes is the human equivalent of Superman—the Man of Steel—in the Marvel Universe. He is the human equivalent of the astonishing alien who wants to do only good, and from that comes a certain friction, because as kind-hearted and well-meaning Rhodey is, he's also got his own baggage to confront; same as every single one of us.
James Rhodes has a family. James Rhodes has friends. James Rhodes has a suit and responsibility and dreams and hopes, and he just realized he needs a new plan; something that will be more in touch with who he is and what he wants.
As to what that plan is, you will find out in the first issue. It's bold and it's ethical and it's not an easy decision to make for him. Not everyone around James Rhodes will be happy.
Each one of us made a hard decision and then had to live with the consequences; now it's Rhodey's turn.
|Iron Patriot by Garry Brown|
Marvel.com: Given that the Marvel Universe often mirrors our own, and knowing the scope and mission statement for the series, are you taking a "ripped from the headlines" approach in portraying the American landscape?
Ales Kot: I find it impossible not to relate to the world when I write. Even—especially—Dadaists and surrealists understood that everything they did related to the world. America is a complex, inspiring country and there are so many possibilities within it that the exploration of it never stops. That feeds back into my writing.
So, the answer is a resounding yes.
Marvel.com: What evils present the most dangerous threats for Rhodey, both tangible and political?
Ales Kot: The political evolves into the tangible; both are inevitably connected. Without spoiling things, America's past comes back to haunt him. Some of the reactions to his newly formulated plan for the future attack him as well. James Rhodes is stuck in the now, trying to survive the car crash of a situation.
Meanwhile, a big attack on the United States is unleashed from within.
Marvel.com: The "Iron" in the name might be a misnomer, given all the heartier alloys present in the armor, but it's a crucial link to the Stark brand. How does Iron Man play into Rhodey's upcoming adventures? How do they view each other at this stage in their relationship?
Ales Kot: Tony Stark is Rhodey's best friend. Rhodey is Tony's best friend. Tony Stark's spirit will be present in his inventions and in the landscape of the Marvel Universe we will show, but this is a James Rhodes comic first and foremost, and I am very excited about that.
James Rhodes is such an iconic character, as himself and also as Iron Patriot. You can knock him down, but he will get back up. You can tear into him, but if he knows that what he's doing is right, he will not stop. You can try to break him, but if there are people that need help, he will run or fly towards them.
I find that immensely inspiring.
Marvel.com: How does Rhodey's use of this armor, of this tech, differ from Tony's? What does he value most, tactically? Speed? Power? Invulnerability?
Ales Kot: Rhodey values balance. He knows that each thing, each move, has its time and place. A big reason why he lives this way is because of what his father taught him, and that father-son dynamic is something we will explore.
Marvel.com: Let's talk about the other half of the title. Under that helm, guys like Norman Osborn had a pretty warped sense of what it means to be a "Patriot." What does it mean for Rhodey?
Ales Kot: He will tell you in IRON PATRIOT #1. Very directly.
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