Archive for July, 2009


Adam Warren Week: The Interview

July 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

gen13_numero_70_cover_by_adamwarrenAdam Warren was kind of enough to consent to an email interview, so of course I immediately bombarded him with way too many questions. As a result, we’ve got a long, and wide-ranging, interview that I think is pretty interesting. We cover a lot of ground, and Warren does it with good humor. And I do mean a lot of ground– this thing weighs in at over 5800 words. I went through and added in links for context or reference, in case you’re curious about a few of the topics that come up.

Thanks to Ken Kneisel for supplying me with the majority of Warren’s run on Dirty Pair, Jacq Cohen at Dark Horse for turning an offhanded Facebook comment into a fun interview, and finally, Adam Warren for answering a million questions.

After you finish reading, you should buy some Empowered (One, Two, Three, Four, Five), Dirty Pair, Iron Man: Hypervelocity, and Livewires. While you’re waiting for those to arrive, visit his DeviantArt to look at some art.


Let’s get it in.

(and yes, adam warren week is just three days long. shut your face.)

At the time that I’m writing this, Empowered has been out for a couple of weeks. What’s your workday like now that it’s on shelves? Do you take a vacation between books or get right into working on the next volume? What do you do to relax?

Right now, I’m working on an Empowered one-shot (in conventional comics format, for once!) and frantically trying to wrap up a few other miscellaneous art jobs before I head off to the San Diego Comic-Con this week (ouch). This is more or less par for the course, as I usually try to work up other pitches or grind away at brief stints of better-paying work before I go back to full-time work on the next Empowered volume; in a way, though, this almost is a vacation, compared to the crazily long hours I often have to work as a volume’s deadline looms ever nearer.

As for relaxing, well, once the workday’s over, I might read some books, watch a DVD (starting over with The Wire season 1, at present), or crack a Sam Adams or two and catch some Craig Ferguson in the wee hours… (Though the latter’s not an option, of late. Since the spectacular onset of the digital TV revolution, my remote neck of the woods went from receiving about eight different TV stations’ signals to receiving a grand total of none whatsoever; yay, DTV! So, no Craig Ferguson for me, nowadays.) Ah, the manifold joys of the rural-dwelling freelancer’s off-work lifestyle…

How fast are you, art-wise? Do you do any digital work, or are you strictly lo-tech? What do you listen to while you draw?

I certainly wouldn’t claim that I’m an especially speedy artist in general… but, when working in the straight-to-pencil format used for Empowered, I can usually turn around at least two pages per full workday, which isn’t too shabby a production rate.

That’s the whole point of the format, really: to move on to the finished page as quickly as possible, leaving out all the intervening stages that used to slow me down as an artist. As in, my technique used to progress from scrawled roughs to very tight but undersized layouts to even more tightly penciled, full-size pages to final inks that were even tighter still; on Empowered, I jump from the thumbnail/rough stage straight to final, penciled pages (at the wee 8.5” X 11” size, BTW), a considerably more streamlined process.

gen13cov69While the technique I use on Empowered is indeed extremely “lo-tech”—nothing but graphite on letter-size copy paper, without resorting to such high-tech, cutting-edge, space-age innovations such as bristol board or inks or a separate lettering stage—I  can’t say that it’s strictly lo-tech, as the pages still wind up getting scanned into Photoshop, then tweaked and cleaned up (and lettering-corrected, as necessary) at Dark Horse. Contradictorily enough, only modern scanning and printing technologies make Empowered’s primitive process viable in the first place…

Nowadays, I listen to a helluva lot of talk radio when I’m working, mostly of the sports-related variety (I am a New England native, so Pats/ Sox/ Celts interest comes naturally to me), occasionally mixing in some books on CD for variety… I do, however, switch over to music from the ol’ iPod when working on scripts, due to the sad fact that talk radio’s babble frequently derails my train of dialog-related thought. (Unless I actually want to mix references to KG and Jonathan Papelbon and Randy Moss into my scripting, which is rarely the case.)   

While doing research for this interview, I realized that you don’t sell your original art. I don’t think that you travel to many cons, either, so genuine Adam Warren Sketches(TM) are pretty rare. Do you prefer to keep your art within the confines of published books, rather than sketches and such?

It’s not that I’m particularly opposed to selling my artwork; it’s just that I’ve never clawed out enough free time to set up some means of actually selling the stuff. (Plus, I am a tad paranoid that some Empowered material might need to be rescanned at some point; such are the problems inherent to working in the ever-tricky medium of grayscale.)

I should say that, back when I used to attend considerably more conventions than I do now (the invites dried up a long time ago, for better or for worse), I did crank out a goodly number of commissioned sketches every year… Empowered is descended from the last major clump of such commissions (mainly of the “damsel-in-distress” variety) I took on, after all. Now, though, I no longer have the time to deal with many (or any) more such requests along those lines.

Side note: Come to think of it, my attendance at San Diego this year will mark my first convention appearance during the entire time that Empowered has been coming out… Alert the media! Well, perhaps not.

In general, I suppose that I do prefer to keep my artwork within the confines of a published book, or at least within the confines of a story… Drawing as such doesn’t interest me all that much, save for as a means of conveying a narrative. I’ve never filled a sketchbook, I don’t draw people in the subway (er, that is, assuming I moved to a location that had a subway), I don’t hang around sketching with fellow artists after conventions (though the first part of the social “Drink & Draw” experience does appeal); in short, I don’t do the things that a real artist, someone who’s Crazy In Love With Drawing, should do. Luckily, this isn’t a major, psyche-twisting source of angst for me, as I pretty much see myself as a writer who happens to be able to draw.
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And the Panel of the Millenium Goes To…!

July 22nd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

No, not the last couple pages of Legion of Three Worlds with Superboy Prime. Though David Uzumeri had his own fun with that scene. The bastard.

Dethklok vs. the Goon is great fun.

Eric Powell’s cartoony depictions of Dethklok and the other Metalocalypse characters is wonky at best, but the one-shot is still worth picking up. Funny and filled with such meetings as Rockso and Franky, Pickles and Willie Nagel, Skwisgaard and Momma Norton, Toki and Peaches Valentine and, best of all, Goon and Dethklok’s hooded security army.

On a similar note, Dethalbum II has been given an official tracklist. “Laser Cannon Deth Sentence” is on there, which is all I need.

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Con Bound

July 22nd, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I am off to San Diego.

In the last Fourcast, I related past incredibly embarrassing meetings with creators.

I’d like some stories about your own meetings with creator, or con experiences, good and bad.

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Adam Warren Week: Gen13 & Livewires, yo!

July 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I think Gen13 may have been my introduction to Adam Warren. I kinda sorta remember picking up it up when I was super high off Wildcats 3.0. Later, I picked up Livewires, a Marvel miniseries that Warren wrote and Rick Mays drew in 2005. I can’t help but associate one series with the other, even beyond the Adam Warren connection, because they both take the idea of a “comic book universe” head-on and treat it with a certain measure of, if not respect, realism.

Most comics tend toward real life in terms of technology and style. Reed Richards is a crazy supergenius, Superman’s an alien, and lasers exist, but real life is more or less the same as it is in our world. Gen13 and Livewires, though, take the opposite tack. Superheroes run rampant in Gen13, by way of a not-so-underground youth sub-culture based around being posthuman. There are gimmick groups, really professional teams, people who just abuse their mental powers to get themselves off, and others who are ironic superteams. Livewires exists in the black ops area of the Marvel Universe, performing cleanup jobs on rogue technology and getting into high tech gun battles.


The two books also places young people, or at least reasonable facsimiles thereof, right in the spotlight. The members of Gen13 are hormonal, angsty, and focused on how other people perceive them. Roxy struggles with her body, Caitlin tries to be the mother of the gang, and the others all have their own problems. Livewires stars androids are like next-gen ’80s John Hughes movie stereotypes– the goth, the cool guy, the popular one, the jock, and the newbie. Their stereotypes help create their personality and provide a few fascinating inversions of the stereotypes over the course of the story.

Warren, particularly in Gen13, throws the characters up against the wall over and over again, and we end up seeing what makes them work. There’s an issue of Gen13 that centers around Sarah Rainmaker, her powers, and her relationship with her uncle. It’s one of those things where a character has a heart to heart or a vulnerable moment while doing something athletic or using their powers, but it provides great insight into Rainmaker’s mind. It shows how she was built as a person, and then it shows exactly what she’s capable of. Not to mention that it’s mildly funny at the same time. Not to mention the end of his run on Gen13, which is up there with Hitman and New X-Men for my favorite endings of all time.

In a similar vein, Livewires is about identity. The main character, Stem Cell, doesn’t believe she’s a robot (pardon the r-word, my mecha, i’ll do better) until she’s forced to face reality. The disbelief is designed to make it easier to activate her and get her used to real life, but it also brought a few questions to mind as I read over the book.


Why should the mecha be treated as less than human? Their personalities may be programmed, but their AI is as good as any human’s. They perform a lot of the same jobs, often with greater accuracy. As in Pluto, what does it mean to be human?

It’s the fact that the books focus on younger people that makes them work for me. Teen Titans, X-Men, and pretty much everything but Runaways have devolved into generic superhero tales, all full of sound and fury and continuity. They’re no longer about teenagers doing teenaged things, like Warren’s Gen13 run was. When’s the last time Robin and the gang went out to a party of teen heroes? Gen13 did it, and they found a bunch of friends in the form of the Mongolian Barbecue Horde (amongst other names). They’d hang around the house, play DDR, talk about girls or boys, and do teenaged things. It wasn’t just wham, bam, another friend is dead, time for a funeral.

This is a big part of what I like about Adam Warren. He manages to latch onto something that you either hadn’t thought of, or wished would happen, and spins it into something fresh. Writing teenagers isn’t as simple as mentioning Xbox or iPods or PlayStation. That kind of Mad Libs writing always comes off lame. Actually knowing what you’re talking about, taking into account how teenagers act, and being willing to experiment makes for a good time.


Case in point– Adam Warren’s Galacta, daughter of Galactus, has been greenlit for a series of stories on Marvel’s webcomic service. He wrote a tale about Gali and her issues with eating, and bam, people dug it. It was something fresh, and it worked. I’m pretty pleased, and look forward to seeing it when it drops. I know that with Adam Warren, I’m getting something that’s going to be interesting.

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Adam Warren Week: A Dirty Pair of Lovely Angels

July 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

dirtypair1I’m just young enough that I can’t really remember a time without anime or manga. I had an early introduction to Akira via my uncle and discovered both Saturday Anime on the SciFi Channel and the burgeoning anime section at my local video store. By that point, it was over for me. 8-Man After All, Dominion Tank Police, Bubblegum Crisis, Robot Carnival, Demon City Shinjuku, A-Ko, Vampire Hunter D (the first one), Galaxy Express, and Fist of the North Star were huge to me. I mean, I used to watch (and own) Tenchi Muyo. You could say that I was spoiled. I got the best of Japan (well…), the best of America (well…), and it was all normal to me. I managed to catch that wave just in time. (Do you guys remember Burn Up?)

Before that, though, Japanese animation and manga weren’t quite the powerhouses they are now. There were a few early adopters, of course. Frank Miller was a Lone Wolf & Cub fan, and Ronin is chock full of Japanese influence. Another was Adam Warren, who, if not the first guy to do “original english language” manga, was definitely one of the first.


I came to Warren’s Dirty Pair late, particularly in comparison to the time when I first discovered the Lovely Angels (that lovely time known as “puberty”). In the late ’80s, Warren and Studio Proteus acquired the rights to Takachiho Haruka’s Dirty Pair, a tale of two girls (a boisterous redhead and a demure brunette) who work for the 3WA as “Trouble Consultants.” However, people call them “the Dirty Pair” on account of the fact that if they’re involved, collateral damage goes through the roof.

I knew Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair existed, but never managed to pick any up until earlier this year. Ken Kneisel, murderer of Flex Mentallo, savior of Emma Frost, and pretty much the nicest guy I know, hooked me up with just about the whole set. I tore through the books as I got them, with an eye toward writing about them later in the year.

What’s really interesting about these books is that Kei and Yuri, the titular Dirty Pair (though they prefer Lovely Angels) could easily be written as The Assertive One and The Doormat, respectively. Rather than fall into that trap, Warren twists their dynamic a little. Kei is a hard-drinkin’, hard-fightin’, hard-shootin’, loud tomboy with a foul mouth. Yuri’s more reserved, sure, but she’s far from a wilting flower. Both of them are capable, funny, hate each other’s guts in that way that only best friends for life can.


They get along and complement each other very well, despite being nominally different. Warren even gets to play with their relationship a bit, when a clone of Yuri is tricked into thinking she’s on a VR training exercise and able to do whatever she wants. So, we get a more Kei version of Yuri than we’ve ever seen before. All of her insecurities, as well as all of her strengths, are put on display while she runs around a planet causing mayhem.

The action in DP tends toward the huge and explosive. Suns go supernova, characters are infected with wardrugs that make them into violent beasts, bio-organic monsters run rampant, and sometimes people get shot right in the face with lasers. It’s a very action movie kind of violence, the kind of thing where the heroines can come across dead bodies and go “Yuck!” rather than vomiting.

And, you know what? It works. Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair feels like the kind of story you’d see in a Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. The action keeps you riveted, but the relationship bits in between keep you going. Kei and Yuri have a great dynamic, and they get into funny and exciting situations. It’s definitely a product of its time, a period where high heels and laser beams go hand in hand, but that was a fun time. I hesitate to call it dated, if only because the science fiction still feels fresh in its approach. The hair styles can be a little ’80s anime-style, but I never really felt like I was reading a specifically ’80s comic, like you tend to with so much of Marvel and DC’s output from the same time period.

Dirty Pair still feels fresh, or is interesting enough to eliminate any of those feelings of the awful ’80s. Kei and Yuri are great heroines, almost like a sci-fi version of Riggs and Murtagh. It’s funny, exciting, and a blazingly fast read. Good stuff.

(all images yapped from ComicArtCommunity)

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The Wolverine Files & Contest

July 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’m not usually a fan of deep continuity stuff. “Who cares,” I think to myself. “Get to the story.” For me to get into continuity porn, I need some kind of hook. It has to be lovingly mocking, as in our Continuity Clashes on the Fourcast!, or kinda funny, like NotBlogX’s X-Men recaps. Another way to win my heart is to come up with a new approach. With The Wolverine Files, Simon & Schuster have come up with a great hook. Colonel Fury, Director of SHIELD, wants to know everything about Wolverine’s past and orders his intelligence teams to gather up all of the info and come up with a definitive history. Thus was born The Wolverine Files.

I like this. Mike W Barr wrote it, and he kept up an informative, but slightly tongue-in-cheek, tone. That tone is what makes this book, rather than breaks it. If this was just another generic Encyclopedia of Comic Information Portrayed as Boringly As Possible, it would be no good, However, Barr keeps things moving with short bios, delivering only necessary info, and having some fun with the format of the book. There’s a few blacked out sections, others that take a more whimsical approach to explaining Wolverine’s relationships.


There are ten major sections, covering Wolverine’s origin, history, allies, lovers, enemies, travels, and weaknesses. It’s a fun trip, because I half remember some of this stuff and am completely surprised, or appalled, by some of it. Either way, it’s a fun read, and it even goes into a few of the What Ifs Wolverine has starred in.

I like it. It’s a fun book, and works really well as an art history, too. Most, if not all, of the major artists who’ve drawn Wolverine are represented in here. To call it a trip down memory lane is a bit of an understatement. This really is Wolverine’s history, warts and all, and it’s a fun book. You can pick up a copy here, directly from Simon & Schuster. Before you do that, though, check this out. S&S’s PR arm was kind enough to help facilitate a contest. We’ve got five copies of The Wolverine Files to give away.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. You need to tell me a) your favorite Wolverine artist, b) your favorite Wolverine story, and c) why it’s your favorite. Be as specific or as general as you like, just tell me why you like it. You’ve got seven days, and I’ll post a couple reminders between now and next week. After that time is up, I’m going to go through and pick the most convincing comments and they get free books.

Sound good? Hit me.

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Bloody Pulp: 9 Months

July 20th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

ad_9mI dig Jorge Vega and Jeff McComsey’s 9 Months, but I think my favorite part might be the cover. It’s a simple picture, just Thomasina, knee-deep in pregnancy and holding a gun while looking surprised. Something about it manages to sum the series up pretty well. This isn’t one of those books where it’s about backflips and double dragon flip kicks. It’s about desperation, and hard choices, and responsibility.

9 Months is, more or less, about the funny turns life takes. Thomasina went from a promising track star to being stuck in a rut. She got the coolguy boyfriend who turns out to be more of a jerk than a coolguy, she alienated her family, and now she’s pregnant. Her past as a track star and present as something else are constantly put into direct conflict over the course of the first issue. Running is even used as a metaphor for why she distanced herself from her family. It was teenage rebellion, basically, but she was sure she was running toward something sustainable.

Later, covered in blood (her own and her late boyfriend’s), I think she starts to realize that she hadn’t. Instead, she’d forsaken what was good in her life in favor of what was flashy. When she’s forced to choose between her current life and the life of her unborn child, she picks the youth and fights back, killing her boyfriend.

The problem is that her boyfriend was far from a nobody. He was the younger brother of a local big shot, and that big shot has a list of demands for Thomasina. She’s going to abstain from alcohol and drugs, take her vitamins, and have the baby. After that, the bigshot gets to keep it.

The last page of the book asks “how far [Thomasina will] go to protect her child?” and answers “too far.” I’m interested, because Jorge and Jeff have built a small, but realistic, cast of characters and created a way to throw them into conflict with each other over the nine months of Thomasina’s pregnancy. They don’t shy away from violence, but they don’t dwell on it, either. It happens, it’s horrible, and then you have to pick up the pieces.

I’ve only read the first issue of 9 Months, but I get the feeling that it’s about picking up the pieces. You can check out a preview of the book here, and read the first eight pages of Bloody Pulp, Jeff & Jorge’s new work over at Zuda. If you like it, vote for it. Let’s see more from these guys.

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Fourcast! 08: San Diego Comic-convicted

July 20th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

San Diego Comic-con launches this week, and Esther and I are going to be there. So, it’s only fitting that our show is a con-preview. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to mix this, so please bear with any technical issues.

-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental starts off the show, and then
-we get right into You Made Me Read This! This time around, Esther read Darwyn Cooke’s Selina’s Big Score.
-We both like it. Surprise!
-Darkwing Duck joke.
-We talk a bit about SDCC and what we’re looking forward to.
-Twilight fanfiction joke.
-Firefly Browncoats joke (Poor Taste Variant #2.)
-I talk about the time I embarrassed myself in front of Dwayne McDuffie.
-Esther talks about meeting Gail Simone, Devin Grayson, and Judd Winick.
-We talk a bit about the smokescreen of Marvel vs DC, I relate it to Yankees vs Red Sox, and Esther tunes out.
-We turn off.

We’ll be at the con from Wednesday to Sunday. If you’re gonna be there and want to say hello (without being creepy or awkward) you can either find us on the floor or throw us an email and we’ll see if we can work something out. No promises, though, as the life of a comics blogging superstar is a tough one, requiring a lot of scheduling and running around.

Or, you know, sitting on your couch with a laptop. Either/or. Maybe both.

Boilerplate podcast pimpery:
If you’re new to the Fourcast!, subscribe to the podcast-specific RSS feed or subscribe on iTunes. Our full-blown RSS, with space-age things like “text” and “images” is here. I hear that the kids like Facebook, too, so if you’re so inclined…

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We Care a Lot Part 15: Way Too Hard to Comprehend

July 20th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Last time on We Care a Lot, I discussed Eddie Brock’s cancer retcon. Before that, I was talking about Daniel Way’s Venom on-going series. To refresh your memory, the Venom symbiote is on the loose up in Canada. It killed off all of army girl Patricia Robertson’s friends and is on its way to a more populated area. Robertson is allied with an alien life form named the Suit, who fights with a cell phone gun. They are being antagonized by a pair of spy chicks who want Venom for themselves. Although they have already been killed, another couple of them have popped up. Venom has finally settled on a host that he can live off of forever.

And that’s where we left off. Venom #10 begins with the Venom-controlled Wolverine attacking Vic and Frankie’s ship and forcing it to crash. The two suit up in their armor and reveal to the reader that they’re probably into each other sexually. Of course they are.

They don’t last a minute. Frankie is stabbed to death by Venom-Wolverine and Vic stumbles upon her doppelganger’s corpse from earlier. She realizes that she’s nothing more than a clone, puts her gun to her head and pulls the trigger.

The torso remains of the Suit give Patricia a new cell phone he has created. He says that he placed the original in a special place and that the new phone acts as a detonator. Venom-Wolverine busts in after her and she presses the button to activate the first phone. As we see, after Wolverine was knocked out by that nuke, the Suit tore open his chest and shoved his phone in there. Now the cell phone goes off, electrocuting Wolverine from the inside and forcing off the symbiote.


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The Crimson Dynamo Was There Too, Baby!

July 18th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

As many of you are aware, the latest Entertainment Weekly features shots and info of Iron Man 2. A lot of the stuff is already known, though it did give us some very nice Black Widow pics. The one thing I find interesting about this whole deal is Mickey Rourke’s role.

Rourke is set to play Whiplash. In actuality, the information we know about him shifts him closer to being the Crimson Dynamo. They even use the name of Ivan Vanko – the first Crimson Dynamo – rather than Mark Scarlotti. So why name him “Whiplash”? For one, there’s the whip-based gimmick in his arsenal they’ve been hyping. Second, I think it’s more of a realism thing.

I’m telling you right now that “Crimson Dynamo” is one of the finest names to ever come out of comics. It’s such a cool collaboration between two cool words. Thing is, someone who looks like Mickey Rourke would never call themselves that on purpose. It doesn’t fit him. It’s too… theatrical, I guess is the word I’m thinking of. It brings too much color and hype for a Russian criminal who fashions his own costume to escape prison and then acts like a terrorist. “Crimson Dynamo” goes well with the propaganda aspect of the character, which is likely missing in this incarnation.

It’s the very idea that they’re going with the identity of Ivan Vanko that adds to my optimism. Ivan Vanko is one of the most overlooked comic characters, especially from the early days of Marvel. I would barely even remember him if it wasn’t for the recent Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin miniseries reminding me that he was around for just a little while.

Vanko created the Crimson Dynamo armor to make himself the Russian answer to Iron Man. He had pride and a sense of style based on his robotic identity, which annoyed his Soviet superiors, but they sent him against Iron Man nonetheless. Iron Man dealt with Vanko in one of the first major “Tony Stark is a total dick moments”.

During a fight, Iron Man played a fake recording he made of Vanko’s superiors planning to have him killed the moment he would return to Russia, whether or not he had succeeded in defeating Iron Man. This fake recording horrified Vanko and he defected to America. He started working as a major scientist at Stark Industries.

Even though we discovered that Vanko’s boss really was going to kill him off after all, that was an extremely fucked up thing for Stark to do.

Vanko remained loyal to Stark, but only lasted until the next year. A Russian spy Boris, alongside the comic book newcomer Black Widow, broke into Stark Industries and stole the Crimson Dynamo armor. Vanko sacrificed himself for Stark and destroyed this second Crimson Dynamo at the cost of his own life.

Since then, the Crimson Dynamo has become almost a running gag, as there are a near dozen men to have taken the mantle. But while I don’t know them all too well, I’m sure few show the potential of Ivan Vanko, a man who was certainly cut down before he could make a bigger impact in Marvel history.

Not saying I want the guy brought back from the dead, but a flashback miniseries or even a What If issue in light of the movie would be ideal. If you think about it, if Ivan had survived, he probably would have taken the second-stringer role that made Jim Rhodes into War Machine.

If they adapt anything from Vanko’s short history for the movie, it can only be positive. Just replace his Russian benefactors with Justin Hammer and we’ve got something.

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