Ghosts in the War Machine

Christos Gage and Greg Pak talk about passing the baton from IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. to the all-new WAR MACHINE

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IRON MAN:
DIRECTOR OF
S.H.I.E.L.D. #35
preview art by
Sean Chen

By Jim Beard When the Skrulls fly fast and furious and the danger's thick as thieves, one man can make a difference—especially if he's a War Machine. Writer Christos Gage's Secret Invasion tie-in starring James Rhodes, wrapping up in IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #35 on November 19, promises not only a concussive conclusion to the Skrull assault on Earth, but a tasty lead-in to December 17's brand new WAR MACHINE #1. "War Machine has been stripped of his armor like a crab without a shell, and he's suffocating to death on a Skrull dissection table," reports Gage. "Can he break free? If he can, how does he get off a warship full of Skrulls? And are the Russian super heroes, the Winter Guard, friend or foe in all this? Assuming Rhodey survives, the conflict will push him down a brand new path than the one he'd been on." War Machine has all but taken over Iron Man's book for the past few months, proving that Jim Rhodes knows how to leave a distinctly different mark from his former boss, Tony Stark.

IRON MAN:
DIRECTOR OF
S.H.I.E.L.D. #35
preview art by
Sean Chen

"Rhodey approaches it like a soldier," Gage notes of War Machine's outlook on the Skrull situation. "He's got a war to win, and he's looking at how best to do that from a military perspective—what targets to hit, how hard, and where to go next. Tony's approach is more cerebral, relying on his inventive and tech skills. "In a nutshell, Tony thinks his way out of a situation like this, and Rhodey smashes his way out." WAR MACHINE #1, out December 17, presents Gage with an opportunity to construct a suitable send-off for Rhodey in IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as confer with WAR MACHINE scribe Greg Pak on how best to dovetail the two projects. "He's an easy guy to work with," Gage says of Pak. "We wanted to make sure that IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #35 led naturally into WAR MACHINE #1, but also understood that some readers might be starting with WAR MACHINE #1 and wanted that to feel like a first issue. "It worked out well because essentially you have Rhodey suddenly getting swept up into the middle of a war, and having to fight his way out of that situation—that's my part of the story. Then, when it's over, he has to consider what he's been through and what he's learned, and makes some tough choices about what he wants to do from there. And that's where Greg picks things up."

IRON MAN:
DIRECTOR OF
S.H.I.E.L.D. #35
preview art by
Sean Chen

And pick it up Pak does. The writer defines WAR MACHINE's mission statement concisely as well as thrillingly. "Every day, we open our newspapers to read about horrific atrocities committed overseas by madmen and monsters [that] no power on earth seems willing to confront," he explains. "But now War Machine is on the job, with all the authority that a few giant, shoulder mounted rocket cannons can muster." Citing Jim Rhodes as "of the greatest supporting characters in Marvel's history," Pak draws a clear line between Rhodey's past campaigns and his new assignment, though his past will always have bearing on his current condition. "War Machine's new mandate means that the book will tackle global issues with an insane level of immediacy, relevance, and realism, which sounded like a great challenge for me as a writer and a fresh, compelling new direction to me as a fan," the writer continues. "Rhodey has always been different from most other Marvel super heroes in that he began his career as a soldier with a very different understanding of the use of violence. With the current series, we'll explore that aspect of the character on a whole new level." Pak sees Gage as establishing the new status quo for War Machine and "taking our hero right up to the edge."

IRON MAN:
DIRECTOR OF
S.H.I.E.L.D. #35
preview art by
Sean Chen

"Then I'm the lucky guy who gets to launch him off that cliff in WAR MACHINE #1," he adds. In addition, Pak feels fortunate to have artist Leonardo Manco riding shotgun on the new series, especially after viewing Manco's previous work on DEATHLOK. "I knew he'd tear this project to pieces," he professes. "Leo totally gets that combination of hardware and heart that defines Jim Rhodes. And Jay David Ramos is doing an amazing job on the colors for this book, as you can see in the nifty eight-page intro story now viewable online at Marvel.com. Check it out, True Believers!" As the Skrull Invasion reaches its zenith in Christos Gage and Sean Chen's IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #35, on sale November 19 , James Rhodes' new life kicks off and explodes into the pages of WAR MACHINE #1 on December 17! Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything Iron Man!

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