James Rhodes returns to the red, white and blue armor this spring in a new Iron Patriot series by up-and-coming writer Ales Kot and artist Garry Brown, announced at New York Comic Con Saturday.
In the comic book universe, the Iron Patriot armor had been recently worn by Norman Osborn, but the mantle will get a drastic moral change with James Rhodes inside the armor when Iron Patriot begins in March.
Kot compared James Rhodes to Superman — "he wants to do good and good only" — and said the character's moral code will sometimes cause him to "wrestle with the consequences of being a pilot with conscience inside a war robot wearing the American flag."
Ales described Iron Patriot as a "sci-fi, action thriller," as Rhodes fights against threats of terror and deals with issues ripped from current American headlines. The comic will also explore the life, family and untold history of James Rhodes.
Iron Patriot is a character with obvious ties to the Marvel movie universe, with the James Rhodes character being featured heavily in the third Iron Man film.
Kot is launching the solo title while also taking over the writing reins on Secret Avengers for Marvel. His past work includes several projects at Image, as well as a brief stint on DC's Suicide Squad.
Newsarama talked to Kot about launching a new Iron Patriot comic in March.
Newsarama: Ales, Iron Patriot became a hero who's more recognized in the mainstream audience thanks to the Iron Man films. But as you're writing him in this new Iron Patriot comic, how would you describe James Rhodes as a character??
Ales Kot: James Rhodes is the human equivalent of Superman – the Man of Steel – in the Marvel universe. He wants to do good and good only. But, unlike Superman, Rhodey is a human being, and there's a certain baggage that can come with that. It seems we all have our ghosts to confront. We usually have families, friends, hopes, dreams, fears...and so does James Rhodes. What he realizes in the beginning of our story is that he's got a deep need to change his life, update it based on what he encountered and observed so far – a plan that will be in touch with who he is and who he wants to be.
What does James Rhodes want to stand for? What does he want Iron Patriot to stand for? You will know by the end of #1. But that's not where the journey ends – it's where it begins.
?Nrama: It's interesting to hear you compare him to Superman. Knowing that most of your superhero work to date has involved anti-heroes, who are far from being like Superman, what's the appeal of writing a character like Iron Patriot??
Kot: The appeal lies in telling the story of James Rhodes. The fact that he is also Iron Patriot is a part of it. James Rhodes is an African-American male in a position of power in the United States of America, which is still a relative rarity. I also find his ethical compass very interesting. And then there's all the blank space in his backstory that can and will be explored. What was his life like earlier? What is he hiding from the public?
Nrama: What distinguishes Iron Patriot from other characters (particularly Iron Man)? ?
Kot: What distinguishes Iron Patriot from every other comic out there at the moment is the human being inside the suit. James Rhodes. His position in the Marvel universe is very unique, and it will only become more so by the end of #1.
Nrama: How would you describe the tone of the book? Does it lean toward a certain genre?
Kot: It's a sci-fi action thriller that focuses on the consequences of being a pilot with conscience inside a war robot wearing the American flag.
Nrama: What types of threats will Rhodes be battling? ?
Kot: America's past comes back to haunt us all. There's also a rather swift reaction to Rhodey's newly formulated plan for his future.
Nrama: Can you describe the cast?
Kot: There will be corrupt politicians. Haunted men. Monstrous inventions. And they will attack something James Rhodes kept hidden for a very long time.
Then there's the family of James Rhodes – his father, his niece. They are also integral members of the cast. Rhodey's upbringing plays a big part in the story.
?Nrama: What do you think Garry Brown will bring to the title??
Kot: His sense of atmosphere, slightly scratchy line, clear storytelling, enthusiasm, his ability to smoothly go from seemingly small moments to large ones and make them all matter. Garry will help make everything come alive, and I believe he will do a great job.
?Nrama: I know you've got other creator-owned work you're doing. Here's your chance to promote it — for people who are excited about what you're doing in the Marvel Universe, where else can they see your work right now??
Kot: Zero, my first ongoing monthly series at Image Comics, launched in September to a great commercial and critical success. What if James Bond realized his higher-ups were terrorists? That's the basic premise of the series. Every issue is one mission. Every issue is drawn by a different artist. We begin in 2018 and end in 2038. Everything comes together in the end.
?Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming work on Iron Patriot?
Kot: I aim to create a superhero comic unlike anything else out there at the moment. I believe we will be successful. If you want to read a mainstream Marvel comic that will do something new while keeping the good old parts intact, come with us.