Review: IRON PATRIOT #4

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IRON PATRIOT #4
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Garry Brown
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 18, 2014

Ales Kot’s Iron Patriot has been off to a slow start. By the time I closed issue #3, I was worried the series may never find its footing, but Kot — along with artist Gary Brown — has manged to rope me in. Iron Patriot #4 is an exciting comic that surprises.

Ales Kot is a writer I’ve been following for a while now because of his unique voice and interesting concepts. His books at Image — Wild Children, Change, and Zero — have very unconventional narratives. They could be no one else’s but his own. These are books that you can lose yourself in. Kot never takes the safe path in his writing, instead challenging readers to come up with their own meaning and interpretations as those are just as, if not more so, valid than his own. So now Kot has made the jump over to Marvel, AKA “The Man,” and he has actually fared pretty nicely, retaining his voice and doing interesting things with established characters. Secret Avengers has been off to a great start, and now Iron Patriot is on the right track.

Iron Patriot tells the story of James Rhodes, formerly known as War Machine. But this is not just James story. Ales has brought James’s father Terrence and his niece Lila into the fold. The hook of this story is that James has decided to focus on humanitarian efforts and essentially neglect everything else. His father disagrees with his decision. His niece agrees. As you would expect, following his announcement, things go awry. Multiple terrorist attacks are unleashed across America, and it’s apparent Iron Patriot plays a role in all of this, as he is quickly defeated and captured by a mysterious villain. All the while Terrence and Lila are captured by some thugs, who are also part of the larger villainous plot. James finds himself forced into a plot to kill the Ex-Commander-In-Chief, and it’s streaming live across the globe!

The first three issues, while I still enjoyed individual moments and the overall tone, lacked a sense of urgency and just didn’t really do anything special or surprising. However, with issue #4 Kot fixes things, inserting some much-needed suspense, as we await the dreadful moment where James is forced to kill.

I admire how laser-focused this series has been. From the start, we have been focused on this one situation with very few characters, and it’s refreshing to see a story like this told in the Marvel Universe. Typically we would see Captain America and the Avengers step in at this point. Instead, it’s all on James Rhodes. Ales Kot is also handling the family dynamic of this book really well. He has used Terrence and Lila as integral components of the story. They have motivations of their own and Kot has given them amble moments to shine. These are good people who look out for each other because family always protects family.

The art by Garry Brown on this book, and particularly this issue, is stellar. His style is very quick and gestural and it really works well when capturing action. This is a guy who I have enjoyed on many issue of Brian Wood’s The Massive at Dark Horse. It’s cool to see him over at Marvel, as he is very much a rising talent. Ales Kot has always done a good job at finding new talented artists to work with and this is no different. This is a perfect marriage of words and art, with Brown and Kot certainly aware of how to pace a sequence. I also love how Brown draws the Iron Patriot armor. In certain panels, he makes it very heavy and menacing, while in others light and agile. Brown displays a very fun, aesthetically pleasing style that is perfect for this book.

I don’t know how long Ales Kot plans to be on this book or what his aspirations for it are, but I’m along of the ride. Iron Patriot #4 is the best issue yet and I want to see where this goes.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

 

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