War Machine #9The tables have been turning in the Marvel Universe ever since Norman Osborn’s rise to power at the end of Secret Invasion, and this has been seen clearly in the pages of Marvel’s War Machine series where James Rhodes has been quick to oppose those changes. War Machine has been, in effect, committing one-man acts of terrorism against the United States.
Now, the plot thickens as pieces of an ominous story line involving the classic Iron Man villain Ultimo begin to connect together—leading Rhodey back to the U.S. and in for a confrontation with Tony Stark himself. But it doesn’t stop there — Norman Osborn, the Iron Patriot, also wants to have a word or three with War Machine. Apparently what series writer Greg Pak and several artists including Leonardo Manco have in store for War Machine is anyone’s guess but the ride so far has been bumpy enough that one can only imagine how things can go from bad to worse.
Newsarama contacted Greg Pak to discuss worst case scenarios in War Machine as he comes into conflict with friends and enemies alike.
Newsarama: Greg, James Rhodes has returned to the U.S. in the current storyarc in War Machine—and he's not too happy. Is he setting himself up for a surprise? The end of War Machine #7 doesn't seem to bode well for well for his relationship with Tony Stark...
War Machine #8, page 1Greg Pak: I'll just say we have some major revelations coming with War Machine #8. And yes, Rhodey will be as shocked as anyone when he learns exactly what's going on.
NRAMA: War Machine #8 features a number of James' friends from his tenure on the West Coast Avengers—way back when. What are they up to? Are they going to side with him or are they trying to stop him?
GP: I've always loved the dynamic between Jim Rhodes and Clint Barton in particular. There's a great moment in the previous War Machine ongoing in which Rhodey confronts Clint about the use of violence. Now Clint may be turning the tables on his old pal.
And anyone who enjoyed Jim McCann's depiction of Clint and Bobbie in New Avengers: The Reunion might want to check out War Machine #8 for a little more face time with the characters.
War Machine #8, pages 2-3NRAMA: The Ultimo virus was unleashed and created Ultimo zombies, there was a giant Ultimo head in #7, what can you tell readers about the new Ultimo being revealed in War Machine #9?
GP: It'll be an incarnation of the killer robot from outer space that we've never seen before—and Rhodey will attempt to deal with it in a way that's never been tried before. We'll drop some big hints in War Machine #8 and see the big payoff in issues #9 and #10.
NRAMA: Let’s talk about his support team. Are Rhodes' self-proclaimed "pit crew" 100% loyal to him, or do his people believe in the war he's making?
GP: Of all of Rhodey's pit crew, Suzi Endo, aka Cybermancer, probably has the most ambivalent feelings towards his past behavior. She actually ditched him once after he took on the Roxxon killers in the short story in the Dark Nation one shot. But as a technopath who can understand the data Rhodey's churning through better than just about anyone else on the planet, she's might now have become the person who can best understand his reasoning for everything he does.
War Machine #8, pages 4-5NRAMA: The road to War Machine going toe-to-toe with Iron Patriot has been in the making since War Machine #1; the cover to War Machine #10 doesn't look very promising for Rhodes...what can you tell us about their future collision?
GP: Let's just say that both War Machine and Iron Patriot have been preparing for this fight since the series began. They're both going to bring their absolute A games and will hold nothing back.
NRAMA: Greg, how do Norman Osborn and James Rhodes match up as men? Are they distinctly different or two sides of the same coin?
GP: Rhodey would hate to be associated in any way with Norman Osborn. But he shares at least one attribute with Osborn—both men are absolutely willing to break the law in order to further their respective agendas. And in a strange way, Osborn might be closer to Rhodey in another way. As Iron Patriot and the director of H.A.M.M.E.R., Osborn's put himself in a position in which he plays the hero every day. You have to wonder if at a certain point he'll begin to internalize some of that fake heroism—or at least begin to form a better understanding of what drives a genuine hero like James Rhodes to take on the morally debatable tactics he's been employing in recent months. Because of these points of similarity, Osborn's and Rhodey's eventual showdown may be as dangerous mentally and emotionally as it will be physically.
War Machine #8NRAMA: Will readers be seeing even more off-the-wall stunts being pulled by Rhodes with his War Machine tech? Is there anything he wouldn't piecemeal into his suit?
GP: He tries to avoid anything run on Windows XP. But everything else is fair game.
NRAMA: Are all of Rhodes' battles in the future going to be on American soil. Throughout the series, you've focused on his work as a military man abroad--will there be more international stories?
GP: Time will tell.
NRAMA: What other plans do you have for War Machine in the near future?
GP: Look for all of the themes and plot elements we've been building since issue one to come to a massive head by issue #12. Rhodey's been doing what he believes to be the right thing regardless of the consequences—by the end of issue #12, we'll finally see exactly what all those consequences are.
NRAMA: Are there any classic Iron Man villains that you'd like to bring into the 21st Century as opponents for War Machine?
GP: Doom! Some of my favorite Iron Man stories are his face offs/team ups with Doctor Doom. Doom's science magic and Rhodey's extreme technobonding could make for a crazy clash.
NRAMA: What was your favorite scene to write during the next several issues we've talked about?
GP: There's a crazy bit with Clint Barton and an arrow in issue #8 that makes me chuckle -- and artist Leo Manco pulled it off beautifully.
War Machine #10NRAMA: Finally, in your view, how does War Machine standout in the current Dark Reign environment at Marvel? What should readers consider when they casually pick up an issue of War Machine off the shelf?
GP: This is the story of a man who makes the conscious decision to go too far when he's faced with a world that's gone too far. It's the kind of decision that people have been forced to make throughout human history during times of terrible lawlessness and upheaval. In fact, you could say that every Western, samurai movie, and gangster flick ever made trades on these same themes. But there's no easy answer regarding the emotional and moral consequences of walking this road, which is exactly what makes these kinds of characters and stories so compelling.
This is also the story of a guy who can assimilate any technology from an iPod to an atom bomb into his armor, which provides endless opportunities for insanely explosive mayhem, if that's your thing. And if you're reading this far into an interview about a character named War Machine, something tells me it probably is.