My cohort Timothy Callahan reviewed thttp://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=604" target="_blank">he first issue of "War Machine," and compared the adventures therein to Punisher on a higher tech, more worldwide level. This issue brings it back home a little bit. After all, this one is personal.
Yeah, if that sounded a little contrived and 1990s-inspired, it is. With one major exception: Greg Pak is bringing a 1990s concept into the 2000s, armed to the teeth. Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes is working with Bethany Cabe and Parnell Jacobs to try and use the most cutting edge technological weaponry to rescue Parnell's captured wife, Glenda Sandoval.
Pak does a very good job of putting this series over the top. This issue is 100% war theatrics and high ordnance explosions, laced with some very tricky tech that makes sense in a world where geniuses are commonplace. From the camera bug to the way War Machine assimilates weaponry, this issue has quite an arsenal of "You gotta be kidding me!" moments. And yet, in a world where the Green Goblin's fractured alter ego (who, by the way, is now more ego than ever before) is the last great hope for the free world, this all almost makes sense. This is the dirty, blood-stained, gun-powder-charred underbelly of the Marvel Universe.
Leonardo Manco makes this adventure the visual spectacle it is. At first blush, this book looks like any one of the myriad of photo-inspired tracer books that have become so trendy. Closer investigation sees that Manco pushes it beyond photo-realism. This is gritty, grimy, murky work littered with extra detail and lots of spatter to integrate the fantastic imagery (a man's torso grafted to tank treads, for instance) with the real life dust we face every day. That's not to say the art is a masterpiece, but it is a visual spectacle worthy of the spotlight of a mainstream comic.
This book is one of the checkers on the "Dark Reign" board following the revelations of "Secret Invasion." Honestly, it doesn't suffer or surge from the connection to "Dark Reign," as it seems that "Dark Reign" is no more invasive than the red skies of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" -- except for the fact that the red skies equal a page or two of tirades from Norman Osborn. This book could easily be just as enjoyable without the tie-in, but rest assured, the banner on the cover puts this book in front of a few more readers than just a simple "War Machine" book would have found.
I am concerned about the pace this book seems to be trying to maintain. It works well for a story arc, maybe a twelve-issue limited series, but I think after a year or so that this will be rather tired and droll. For now, however, it's high-octane, higher-caliber adventure.
Until Wednesday, you can http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=1884" target="_blank">click here to check out the preview of "War Machine" #2.