IRON PATRIOT #1
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Garry Brown
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 26, 2014
I’m not going to lie, when I saw Iron Patriot in the solicits months ago I thought to myself “maybe with the new name, suit and team Rhodey can finally carry his own book”. Much to my dismay what I found in issue #1 was dry, rather uninspiring and, frankly, boring. In this first issue we see much of what is going on behind the scenes for Rhodey, his family life and his decision to stay a “Homeland Hero” as Iron Patriot. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, getting a glimpse of the family and regular life behind the hero is never a bad thing, but the amount of time rehashing and belaboring points in this issue is tiresome. Very quickly readers can discern what the relationship dynamics are within the Rhodes family and the exorbitant amount of time reinforcing this dragged this comic to a crawl. I know he’s going by Iron Patriot now, but an issue featuring a man in Iron Man armour, formerly known as War Machine, should have more than four pages of action. Considering the amount of time spent outside the suit, Kot doesn’t scratch below the surface of James Rhodes, with very little insight given to internal struggles save for ones that are so commonplace they don’t build any connection with the character. This issue could feature any of a dozen characters in the primary role and read no differently, and for a #1 looking to forge a new trail with a well known character, that is a misstep. Readers looking for a Rhodey ready to step out of Tony’s shadow and own a strong storyline will not find it in this first issue.
Garry Brown’s artwork is solid, though he doesn’t have a lot to work with, action-wise. The action sequences he does pencil are well laid out, and for the most part his facial work throughout the first three quarters of the comic is solid. There are points with some of the smaller panels where he does not pencil any detail on faces, which was somewhat jarring, and took away from solid artwork on the rest of the page. Seeing a character in the distance with no face at makes the artwork feel rushed and incomplete and when you are reading a comic that is this dialogue heavy, missteps like that stand out like sore thumbs. The colour work by Jim Charalampidis suits the comic, and Brown’s style, well and the book does get some visual energy in the final pages when the action picks up. In the end, the art team did their job, with some inconsistencies here and there, to tell a story that is not easy to keep visually intriguing. The true test for the visuals of the series will most likely be in future issues when Rhodey spends more time in the Iron Patriot suit.
Iron Patriot #1 is a subdued and very slow first issue for a well known character who is equipped with an Iron Man suit. Readers looking for War Machine-style action aren’t going to find it in this issue, and we can only hope the pace picks up and we get a storyline that drives forward in the future. Characters who have spent years in a backup role to a heavyweight such as Iron Man need to storm out of the gate with a new angle and some thunder, but Iron Patriot #1 barely works up to a crawl.
The Verdict: 4.5/10