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Dark Reign

War Machine vs War God

James Rhodes faces off against Ares, God of War in WAR MACHINE #3, and series writer Greg Pak dishes on the upcoming battle

By Marc Strom Let the war games begin! James "Rhodey" Rhodes may have bitten off more than he can chew, as Norman Osborn continues his Dark Reign and sends Ares after our hero in WAR MACHINE #3 on February 25, courtesy of writer Greg Pak and artist Leonardo Manco. Though Rhodes recently received a number of considerable upgrades, Pak says he'll need more than just a large amount of firepower to face the Greek god of war. "So far, we've seen Rhodey take out a repurposed Sentinel, survive a ground zero explosion of daisy cutter warheads, and deal with damage by immediately incorporating any surrounding machinery or weaponry into his armor," lists Pak. "He has

Preview art by
Leonardo Manco

more firepower and adaptability than ever before, which might just let him survive a few rounds with mighty Ares. "But Ares isn't just the god of war-he's the god of battlelust and slaughter. He loves to fight regardless of the reason. But Rhodey's on the ground in occupied Aqiria to save his childhood friend Glenda Sandoval from certain death. In a typical super hero fight, the commitment that comes from that kind of mission would be a strength. But against an implacable immortal, it could just as easily become a vulnerability and weakness." Rhodes' upgrades have turned him into a human/machine hybrid, with much of his body replaced by circuitry, causing some to question whether he's become more machine than man and leading Ares to take particular notice of his recent actions. "Rhodey's cerebral implants allow him to tap into huge amounts of horrific information about the atrocity-filled histories of his opponents, which may have contributed to the fact that he just killed 23 war criminals in the genocidal army of Santo Marcan dictator Luis Augustine," notes Pak. "That's pretty small potatoes compared to Ares' millennia-long hit list. But it's enough to pique the god of war's interest. War Machine's crossing lines few super heroes ever cross-from Ares' point of view, that might make him more than just another worthy opponent."

Preview art by
Leonardo Manco

Pak has also written Ares in the pages of INCREDIBLE HERCULES, and he notes that scripting the character both in that series and in WAR MACHINE has allowed him to explore the War God's personality in greater depth. "I've loved writing Ares in both books because it gives us two different angles on the character," the writer explains. "In INREDIBLE HERCULES, Ares is up against a fellow immortal, his brother Hercules. And beneath all that smashing, the two brothers are working out sibling rivalries and daddy issues. "But in WAR MACHINE, we're looking at a god versus a mortal-and to be specific, a god of war who has taken a special interest in a mortal warrior. The confrontation gives us a chance to reveal more about how Ares conceives his role as the god of war, and just how big and dangerous the differences might be between the gods and the super heroes whose power approaches them." Ares currently follows the Marvel Universe's newly minted golden child, Norman Osborn, and Pak tells us that Osborn's presence within the pages of this series will continue past its opening story-arc. "Osborn's interest in War Machine is deep and enduring," he remarks. "While he might not appear in every issue, he has a long term plan that will absolutely keep him in the mix. In the short term, Norman and Rhodey have a huge moment in WAR MACHINE #5, full of shocks and revelations.

Preview art by
Leonardo Manco

The critical decision Rhodey makes at that point will lay the foundation for all of his subsequent dealings with Norman, for better or for worse." Besides Osborn and Ares, War Machine will face a number of other challenges in the coming months. "I wouldn't call them villains, but they're definitely major complications-keep an eye out for a certain petite Hong Kong native named Suzie Endo in issue #4 and Rhodey's mom in issue #6," warns Pak. "And yes, I just said 'Rhodey's mom.'" Pak left off teasing not only what's in store for Rhodey with the current storyline, but the next as well. "Don't miss issue #4 for a much deeper look at the man underneath the War Machine armor-and to find out more about the childhood bond between Jim Rhodes and Glenda Sandoval. "And for the next story arc, it's easy for most of the Marvel Universe to look the other way when War Machine takes out dictators and madmen in distant war zones like Santo Marco and occupied Aqiria, but what happens when the one-man-army finally picks a target on American soil? Don't you dare miss 'Homeland,' beginning with WAR MACHINE #6!" WAR MACHINE #3 goes on sale February 25, but before that, check out an exclusive digital story featuring Rhodey on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything Iron Man!
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