“he’s all right, but he’s not real”

November 2nd, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

Here’s the solicit for X-Men #20, on sale digitally and in finer comic shops nationwide:

Guest starring Iron Man 2.0! The fallout of Schism pushes the X-Men and War Machine at each other in Eastern Europe asSsentinels are being traded on the black market.

Here’s me earlier this year (it feels like forever ago) in an interview with Tom Spurgeon:

And look at Marvel’s upcoming Iron Man 2.0. The cover artist, title, and logo are all intended to make it look like it’s part of Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s successful run on Iron Man. The twist? It stars James Rhodes as War Machine. The same James Rhodes who was just in a series a year ago that bit the dust with issue #12. How is that anything but a vote of no-confidence for black characters in comics? Congrats, Rhodey! You’re a major co-star in a big Hollywood blockbuster and Marvel knows that the current comics audience won’t even look at you without someone else’s logo on the cover.

Related, but maybe not: Bleeding Cool is saying that Iron Man 2.0 is canceled as of #12.

I read a few issues of Iron Man 2.0. It was a Nick Spencer/Ariel Olivetti book at the beginning, but Kano and Carmine Di Giadomenico (who I like a whole lot) pinch hit a bit. I was unimpressed. I was actually sort of annoyed when Rhodey slipped further and further into the background. I hit one issue where Rhodey wasn’t in it at all, or on one page or something ridiculous like that. And then Fear Itself hit and the book turned into Cast-Off Iron Fist Characters Monthly (sometimes featuring War Machine). Chris Eckert did a pretty good job of breaking down why that sucks over here.

I’m not one of those comics hardliners, either. People who are like “It took Stan and Steve six pages to do Spider-Man’s origin and yet Miles Morales isn’t even in costume yet in issue three!” are morons. Fights don’t have to happen for an issue to be good. “Nothing happened” is a crap complaint. You take a story on its own merits, not by the standards of some time before any of us were born. You could probably build a very good story with the hero/titular character flitting around the outskirts of the book. I think Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin did that pretty well on their last arc of Hellblazer. You can build dread.

The problem with Iron Man 2.0 is that there was no narrative momentum. I never bought the premise of the story. Spencer didn’t stick the landing when he was setting it up. As a result, rather than building a mystery, an entire issue about some dude I don’t care about or some rip from Chinese mythology was an intrusion, rather than an infiltration. Does that make sense?

If the story is good, you can do whatever you want. Even pirate comics and lengthy essays.

But that’s all a sidebar for what I really want to get at, which is referring to Rhodey as “Iron Man 2.0” in solicit text. Yeah, they call him War Machine later, but he’s introduced as Iron Man 2.0. He’s branded as Iron Man 2.0.

And I don’t think anything speaks to the state of colored folks and comics as well as that. Marvel has been astonishingly good at keeping their black characters around. They’re miles ahead of their nearest competition. Barring a couple breaks of maybe 18-24 months combined, we’ve had an ongoing Black Panther comic since like 1998 or whenever Priest started. Bendis turned Luke Cage into a superstar (but still no solo series). Misty Knight has starred in three separate Heroes for Hire/Daughters of the Dragon series in the past what, six years? And she’s getting relaunched again this week? Marvel clearly wants this to work. They’ve thrown everything at the wall and nothing appears to be sticking.

Their new tactic is stripping a character of his own identity and hitching his cart to another character. Iron Man 2.0‘s entire outward appearance is meant to emulate Iron Man and confuse consumers into thinking it stars a white dude or something, I dunno. Rhodey has been around for decades. He has a fanbase. But it isn’t enough. So Marvel is pretending like Rhodey is a subset of Iron Man rather than letting him stand on his own two.

And that sucks. Readers (hopefully) aren’t that stupid, and it’s so limiting in scope. Rhodey spent the ’90s (and several other brief periods of time) attempting to escape Tony Stark’s shadow. I’m far from a superfan, or even an average fan, and I know that. To pull him back under that shadow in the name of goosing sales and then to make him a sideliner in his own comic… I dunno. Maybe there just shouldn’t be War Machine comics. Or maybe I misread and Iron Man 2.0 is about Tony Stark’s world and not War Machine at all.

I’ve been trying to think my way through how you could spin turning Rhodey subordinate as a positive. I don’t think you can. There will always be a connection between him and Stark. That’s unavoidable and totally an avenue worth exploring. But at one point, in the text and without, he was his own distinct person. Sacrificing that, in any way, on the altar of hoping to goose sales… I dunno. It seems like such a waste.

Black Panther has a touch of this, having stepped into Daredevil’s shoes in terms of title and gimmick. I dislike it for different reasons, though. Black Panther has always been at the forefront of that comic. I think the book is dreadfully average right now, with the occasional dip into stupid (but the art tends toward fire), but that’s beside the point. Becoming the Man Without Fear and running a Denny’s feels like a step all the way out of the Black Panther’s gimmick (king of a technologically advanced isolationist nation who is also smart enough to supply Reed Richards with gadgets), but at the same time, Francesco Francavilla was born to draw him. I mean, can you imagine a hard espionage tale featuring the Panther with art like this?

“The Most Dangerous Man Alive.”

It’s so strange to think of two decades-old characters who have to step into a white man’s shoes in order to boost sales. I called Iron Man 2.0 a vote of no-confidence for black characters, and I think that holds true. If they were genuinely viable in and of themselves, they’d star in series of their own, not ones that are strapped to someone else’s back. Neither story feels like a particularly organic transition (though Rhodey’s status quo over the past however many years has been wildly uneven to begin with). Honestly, I don’t buy that either of them are good fits, either. But I can see what Marvel’s attempting to do, and in a way, I get it. In another way, it grosses me out.

It seems like you can pull off great portrayals of black characters in team books. Thunderbolts is a treat, and New Mutants, last I checked, was majority non-white. But once you get down into Soloville, you start hitting road bumps. Depressing.

Let them dudes have their own names and identities. Or let them die.

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31 comments to ““he’s all right, but he’s not real””

  1. “You could probably build a very good story with the hero/titular character flitting around the outskirts of the book.”

    I read this sentence and immediately thought Sub-Mariner: The Depths. A tense, atmospheric book with an interesting cast of characters who weren’t just there to be add to the body count. There’s no running monologue from Namor, we only get a glimpse of him here and there but when he does show up? Whoo boy. Esad Ribic on art doesn’t hurt either.

    Blatant plug out of the way, loved this article. I wouldn’t worry about Rhody though. If I know Marvel, they’re already working on Iron Man 2.1.

  2. David Brothers’ writing: when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and therefore that hammer is racism incarnate.

    David Brothers’ writing: looking at the world through glasses made of hardened institutionalized racism.

    David Brothers’ writing: when you can’t justify the time you spend reading comics without putting a layer of pseudo-sociology over everything

  3. @Zach: That was Peter Milligan, yeah? I dug that one, too.

    @Ricardo Johnson: I think you might be too dumb to read what I wrote instead of what you think I wrote. This isn’t really about racism, but it does involve race I guess. There’s not much sociology, pseudo or otherwise, here either. It’s more about storytelling and marketing (pseudo-storytelling? pseudo-marketing?) than anything sociological.

    Tune in tomorrow, though, I have a few thoughts about Tintin in the Congo for you that are sorta sociological in nature. You can just repost your comment there.

  4. wait, hang on

    “David Brothers’ writing: when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and therefore that hammer is racism incarnate.”

    So I wield the hammer of racism incarnate to uh… hammer the problem of… you lost me. Try again?

  5. I think you just came up with a better idea than any that actually appeared in Fear Itself.

  6. “Let them dudes have their own names and identities. Or let them die.”

    Wasn’t DC pretty much letting them die, what with the whole killing-off non-white folk for the incidental purpose of reinstating legacy heroes who happened to be white? I mean, true they pulled a, “Actually, nevermind,” trick with the whole re-launch making it so suddenly everyone is alive and kicking again (or newly dead, poor Superman’s parents), but for awhile it seemed you could keep a scorecard of who was going to be brutally killed off that happened to not be white so a white guy or gal could assume their hero-ing position. It wasn’t racism, just unfortunate and really awkward. I mean, the comic where Ryan Choi died had a woman with a volcano vagina, how much more low-brow fan-fiction-ish can you get? I showed that to a friend who doesn’t read comics and they guffawed loudly.

  7. Hey David,

    You know that in general I enjoy your writing and am happy to have your voice out there on issues like this, but I hope you take the following as constructive and not trolling. But guy, I think you are way off base on this one. And that’s really down to methodology and legwork more so than it is any fault in your point of view.

    In general, you’re conflating a lot of actions and motivations coming from all corners of Marvel into one set of ideas that “Marvel” has undertaken or implicitly supported by publishing this Iron Man 2.0 comic as is. There are plenty of cases where one can look across a line of books or a set of publishing principals and draw connections between them and certain corporate policies at major comic companies. I think all the attention recently drawn to DC’s portrayal of women qualifies. Discussing Marvel’s tendency to flood the market with titles or their inconsistent pricing policies does as well. But looking at one book starring a black lead and saying that “Marvel has decided to do this or that”? That kind of argument doesn’t hold up for plenty of reasons.

    First of all, the idea that either linking a character who’s historically been less popular than some of the marquee guys (regardless of his skin color) or trying to launch a solo title in relation to a more popular established ongoing is a new tactic doesn’t quite add up.

    On the specific case of “Iron Man 2.0,” I can tell you for a fact that the book was originally planned to be called “War Machine” but that it was changed to the current title at the last minute because when I first interviewed Spencer about the book in advance of its announcement, he was calling it “War Machine.” Now, I can’t say for certain why they changed the title in the three days between when I did the interview and when the book was announced, but I’d bet money that it had something to do with the fact that they’d just had a series called “War Machine” that tanked after 12 issues – a series I might add which had a premise of “Let’s remove Rhodey totally from Iron Man’s world and let him be a bad ass soldier with big guns all on his own.”

    Can you imagine a case with any character where Marvel’s execs would move forward with the exact same title on a series as one that just failed to find an audience? Would they do that with a comic called “Nova”? Or one called “Gambit”? Or one called “Hawkeye”? The only case I can think that’s even vaguely like that would be “Moon Knight” which earned a relaunch at the behest of their #1 writer.

    Furthermore, and more importantly, the idea that the book’s “entire outward appearance is meant to emulate Iron Man and confuse consumers into thinking it stars a white dude” runs contrary to all the facts about the title’s creation and conception. In ALL the interviews Spencer did at the launch of the book, including mine, he spoke to the core of the book as not trying to hide Rhodey but to update him for a new century. The idea behind design changes in teh series wasn’t to make him look more like Tony. It was to streamline the idea of a War Machine to fit an era where war is just as often fought by robot-controled drone bombers as it is by men with big guns. Now, I suppose you could argue that Spencer was lying there, that the title was always meant to simply weaken Rhodey’s status as a solo hero and make him “Tony Stark’s black friend.” But I think that’s a hard thing to say 1) because that’s a pretty raw accusation to throw at anyone in comics and 2) because Nick’s record as a creator who pitches books with high concepts such as “A War Machine in the era of drone bombers” makes a more convincing case for him being honest with reporters than supposition on “Marvel’s” intentions for once of its characters.

    In addition, you have to look at the context not just of how Marvel Editorial works but also of how the specific War Machine comics have worked over the past few years. The last Greg Pak book titled “War Machine” was generated by Bill Rosemann as a part of the Dark Reign event (I know because I also interviewed Greg about that book when it was coming out, and he said, “Bill Rosemann had an idea for a War Machine title and asked if I wanted to write it”). When it came to the comic eventually known as “Iron Man 2.0,” the title was conceived and put together by Alejandro Arbona – an Editor who worked in a different part of Marvel Editorial than Bill and a the Editor who was already in charge of “Invincible Iron Man” at the time “2.0” was pitched and approved. So did Alejandro look to line this series up more with “Invincible IM” than the previous series had? I’m sure he did. But does that necessarily mean that somehow trying to up the status of one character in the context of another, more popular character equates to bamboozling the audience about his race. (Though I will say that it’s totally valid for you to say that the move puts you off as a reader. But it doesn’t seem to me like you’re making that argument here. You seem to be arguing that Marvel as a company is intentionally sacrificing the independent status of its black heroes).

    [Also full disclosure: I’m friends with Alejandro and spoke with him often about this book when it launched, so I’ve obviously got some baggage that’s making me write this long, rambling response that you’re probably not reading all of. But the point still stands, I think.]

    Overall what I’m trying to tell you is this: I think there is a lot of writing to be done – that NEEDS to be done – about the lack of characters of color in prominent positions in mainstream comics. And I think you are the writer who can make those arguments in a way that can have a very positive impact on the industry. HOWEVER, this specific argument you’re making is not doing you any favors on that front. Taking the all the work, motivations and sentiments of many different people and conflating them to a monolithic corporations ill-defined policies really weakens everything you say here. And frankly, I’m shocked you can write a whole post on this and not mention the fact that Tom Brevoort has gone on the record in several places over the past year to bemoan how hard Marvel Editorial finds it to successfully launch a series with a minority lead.

    I know you may not consider yourself a journalist, but in the future, I hope you approach commentary like this with a more clear eye focused on context and facts rather than only theory and conjecture.

    Take care,

    – KP

  8. @Kiel Phegley: Hey Kiel–I didn’t mean to imply that this was a new tactic. It’s happened before, of course. The Luke Cage mini a few months back (last year, maybe?) was “New Avengers – Luke Cage” and Spider-Girl, maybe both of them, were using the Spider-Man font for a logo for a while.

    My reasoning was a bit stronger than looking at one book with a black lead, I’d argue. I focus on one, yeah, but Panther is included in my post, too. There’s also the fact that once you have Rhodey and Panther down, you’re looking at… well, Miles Morales is the only one starring in a comic beyond them. That’s two-thirds of Marvel’s comics that feature solo black characters that are employing the same gimmick around the same time. It’s a small sample size, but proportionally, it’s huge. I don’t think I’ve forgotten anyone, either. It’s remarkable that both characters faced relaunches (slash continuation in Panther’s case) within a relatively short period of time that cast them as being directly attached to someone else. I say remarkable, but I probably mean “weird.” It’s probably a coincidence, but it’s a coincidence worth pointing out.

    I think I remember that War Machine was the original title–that was around New York Comic-Con last year, right? Maybe I’m misremembering, but that does sound familiar.

    But to your point about failures and naming–Marvel has done that repeatedly. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Runaways. Black Panther. Both Spider-Girls, though the titles changed slightly there to signify the new volumes. Even Heroes for Hire, of all things. It happens. I wouldn’t call it common, but it’s not exactly rare, either. I assume it’s because someone has a killer pitch.

    Regarding the book’s appearance–I was being flippant, but it’s true. The covers are by Salvador Larroca, cover artist for vanilla IM. The trade dress is the same, with the addition of a “2.0.” The variant covers, and a couple of the regular ones, for the first five or six issues featured Iron Man, not War Machine. The outward appearance is of an Iron Man comic, not one that is about War Machine. The covers scream that they relate to the successful Fraction/Larroca run. I’m not really sure how else to explain it–they’re essentially positioning the book as derivative of regular Iron Man. It’s like the Civil War covers, with the bottom half blank? It’s branding. I’m sure Spencer had a great plan for the series and the character, but the covers, the majority of them are saying “Buy this because it’s like Iron Man.”

    I’m not saying that Evil Faceless Corporate Marvel is steepling their fingers and planning to downgrade their black characters. I am saying that it is weird that their two books that starred solo black characters both went this route. I think it’s fair to call it a tactic. It’s a thing that happened and someone planned out both of these books. It’s not an evil thing. It’s a “How can we make this work? What if we draft in the wake of success over here?” sort of thing. My problem with it is that it then becomes “This character is subordinate by default to this other character.” I think the Rhodey/Stark relationship is a valuable one, and there’s tons of ways to tie them together without kicking Rhodey down a notch and into the background of his own comic. You can do some great street level Black Panther stuff without having him run a diner and be completely removed from his own context.

    Believe me, I’m more than aware of Marvel’s efforts regarding black characters. I give it up to them constantly, and did so in this very post:

    “Marvel has been astonishingly good at keeping their black characters around. They’re miles ahead of their nearest competition. Barring a couple breaks of maybe 18-24 months combined, we’ve had an ongoing Black Panther comic since like 1998 or whenever Priest started. Bendis turned Luke Cage into a superstar (but still no solo series). Misty Knight has starred in three separate Heroes for Hire/Daughters of the Dragon series in the past what, six years? And she’s getting relaunched again this week? Marvel clearly wants this to work. They’ve thrown everything at the wall and nothing appears to be sticking.”

    I’ve heard the Brevoort quote, too. I thought it was refreshingly honest and actually adjusted how I look at their efforts. I posted about it here and think about it often. This post is actually a direct descendent of Brevoort’s words, because he opened my eyes (or reopened, I dunno) to the fact that Marvel has to make money first.

    I think I entered (started?) this conversation well aware of the facts. Marvel wouldn’t publish a book they didn’t think would sell, and they wouldn’t market that comic in a way that they think wouldn’t lead to it being a success of whichever size. This time around, the marketing was “Look like Iron Man” or “Pick up where Daredevil left off.” I don’t ascribe negative motivations to anyone. I say that they did it to goose sales, which I don’t consider a negative for a business, or anyone, really. They’re supposed to make money. The facts you mentioned–Spencer’s intent, cancellations, etc–are all things I’ve talked about with friends or thought about over the months since the series was announced. I don’t–half-cocked isn’t really my thing. I’m far from bulletproof, but I’ve been thinking this post through for months.

    I’m glad that they’re trying new things, and that they’ll keep trying them. I just wish it wasn’t this specific thing, though I can see the logic behind why they would do it.

    I read the whole thing. Thanks for reading.

  9. The Black Panther relaunch is just one in a series of similar relaunches, including The Incredible Herc, Journey into Mystery, and Captain America and Bucky. So I don’t think that is a racially motivated relaunch, I think it is just one in a series of relaunches where Marvel is trying to bring more attention to certain characters.

  10. […] talks in general about the current slate of black characters starring in Marvel’s comics. [4thletter] From Daredevil […]

  11. David, as an unabashed War Machine super-fan, I’m with you 100% on this. I think the whole Iron Man 2.0 branding was a massive step back for the character… and like you said, they barely even put the character in his own book (especially issue #4, the one where he gets one page).

    Only one super-tiny mistake I noticed here — the book was original Spencer and Barry Kitson, not Olivetti. But something happened with Kitson and he couldn’t do the book by himself, so Kano and Di Giadomenico had to step in to help. Olivetti started a few issues into the run.

  12. @Nick Marino: Cripes, you’re right–I’d completely spaced on Kitson being involved. He was one of the reasons I picked the book up, even. I dig his art.

    @Mike: Yes, I know, I read comic books. I never said or implied it was racially motivated.

  13. Jesus, are you frigging kidding? It has zero to do with race. Marvel just tried a book called “War Machine” during the Dark Reign stuff and sales just weren’t there. It makes perfect sense that they’d try to brand his current book as being connected to Iron Man. Iron Man has brand recognition and a history of being a book that generally sells pretty well.

    If this proves anything, it’s that there’s a certain tier of characters that fans love, but won’t buy solo books for in huge numbers. Fan favorites like Hawkeye and Doctor Strange fall into this category too.

    PLUS Rhodey has always been a supporting character and was at one time, wearing the Iron Man armor and calling himself Iron Man. Now, if Marvel had taken like, Luke Cage and called him Captain America, or put him in a book called like, X-Men presents: Luke Cage, You might have a point.

  14. PLUS Rhodey has always been a supporting character and was at one time, wearing the Iron Man armor and calling himself Iron Man.

    Yes, that’s the basic problem with trying to write Rhodes as a title character. He wasn’t created to be one and his history reflects that.

    The basic problem with Morales isn’t that he’s not white; it’s that he’s a 13-year-old kid. Write him as being that age; the stories will appeal mainly to younger readers. Write him as being that age in fights with adults; he winds up getting killed, in spite of his powers, and his parents wonder why they let a 13-year-old act out a fantasy of being a hero.


  15. @Steven R. Stahl: Hey, go away. Seriously. Don’t come back.

    @Zach: Read the post again, and pay attention this time. I don’t make any of the arguments that you think I do, and Rhodey has not always been a supporting character. He’s had quite a few series at this point, existed apart from Iron Man in dozens of issues, and has definitely stood on his own two feet. A spinoff? Legacy? Derivative? Sure. But a supporting character? Not for nearly twenty years.

  16. Hey, go away. Seriously. Don’t come back.

    Why would I want to be around someone who lacks self-control and tortures logic whenever it’s convenient? For the screams?


  17. Cool, have fun at your Steve Englehart shrine.

  18. I like Iron Man 2.0 a lot, but they undeniably made 3 huge mistakes:

    1. You’re dead on about the title switch. That was bullshit.

    2. I really think what Spencer was trying to pull off a slowburning “superhero in over his head” book. Sadly, Rhodey is way too well established as an experienced hero to be believable in a role like that. If they had just used a new character, of ANY race, as the protagonist in that book it would have worked better. Why did Spencer screw that up? Can’t say for sure, but in my darker moments I wonder if there was a “Palmer Addley is Dead” proposal that never got sent to Image.

    3. The “Fear Itself” issues are so bad and have so little to do with the rest of the book that I suspect Spencer just decided to put the book on pause to help out his friends and introduce the Monkey King. I pulled those issues from my collection and gave them away, and I doubt I’ll ever regret it.

    I agreed Panther is coasting on FF’s artwork (wouldn’t have lasted 3 issues without it) but over time I’ve actually come to identify with Panther’s determination to rebuild his reputation from the ground. Plus, the Panther is one of the few who came through Fear Itself looking good – watching him kick Hate-Monger’s ass was a rollicking good time.

    Anyway, thanks for talking about the books – beats the heck out of silence!

  19. David, learn to address people with respect or this will be the last time I comment on your blog. And Rhodey is a supporting character. It’s not a slam or a put-down, the vast majority of characters in comics are supporting characters/team players. Iron Man is the lead, and characters like Pepper, Rhodey, etc, are there to play a role in Tony’s life. They occasionally get their own arcs/minis/minis that are disguised as ongoings, but they all ultimately revert to moons that orbit a bigger character’s planet. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  20. @Zach: I gave you the same level of respect you gave me. A supporting character is someone like Mary Jane or Jimmy Olsen–a character who is defined primarily by their attachment to another. Rhodey, on the other hand, is more like Kyle Rayner, a character who was originally (or eventually, in Rhodey’s case, after he started wearing the armor) defined by his differences from another, and then grew into his own man. He’s no more a supporting character than Rayner is, and he’s had a fistful of ongoing and limited series, not to mention team books, over the years proving that point.

    And again, you’re arguing against a point I never even made. I know how comic books work. I’m not an idiot.

  21. David Brothers, Rayner’s ultimately a supporting character too. Like Rhodey, they’ve both had star turns, but they’ve both reverted to servicing the storyline of their parent title/character. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but that’s how it is. There are only a few lead characters that are capable of sustaining ongoing series for more than a few issues at a time, and War Machine isn’t one of them. There’s no racial component at all to Rhodey’s literary subservience. Look at how Herc was put into Hulk’s book for a while. It’s about the size/profitability of the character, not about what they look like.

  22. Please point out where I said any of this was because they were black.

  23. “It’s so strange to think of two decades-old characters who have to step into a white man’s shoes in order to boost sales. I called Iron Man 2.0 a vote of no-confidence for black characters, and I think that holds true. If they were genuinely viable in and of themselves, they’d star in series of their own, not ones that are strapped to someone else’s back.”

  24. @Zach: Here’s your mistake: I’m not saying this happened specifically because they are black. They are secondary characters who haven’t caught on to the extent that their older, whiter compadres have. Their blackness is a factor, sure, but not the prime mover.

    I’m talking about things that have happened to black characters. They’ve also happened to white characters, and women characters, and whatever else. I’m interested specifically in the fact that of the two black ongoings at Marvel (pre-Ultimate Spider-Man), both of them are mining the same general strategy. The sad part is that it involves a black man stepping into a white man’s shoes (or under his umbrella or whatever metaphor makes the most sense), something that’s been old and tired for years.

    I do not say that it is because of racism. Is it race-related? Sure, probably. But your point, and the point of several other people, that I’m claiming this is just because they are black is garbage. I’m not. I think it’s sad that the black characters they do have need these sorts of tactics to succeed, but I’d be a fool to think it’s because of racism.

    Your definition of supporting character is weird.

  25. I honestly dont’ think their blackness is a factor, even a small one. Look at the characters that have “caught on”, if we are defining caught on as being able to regularly sustain an ongoing series over several years. It’s Superman/Batman/WW and MAYBE whichever Flash or GL is the current “main” version over at DC, and it’s Spidey/Hulk/Wolverine/Daredevil/Cap/Thor/Iron Man at Marvel. They do well because comic fans are, generally speaking, nostalgic weirdos that mostly want to read about the same 10 characters until the end of time, at the expense of other, more interesting characters. Fans disregard War Machine for the same reason they disregard Hercules – because they aren’t one of those 10 or so characters.

  26. Isn’t the whole “I’m nobody’s second banana, Tony!” exchange the traditional way to start a War Machine book that historically does not sell well?

    I’m probably the only person who feels this way, but I actually kind of liked that shitty Marvel MAX U.S. War Machine book with ‘manga’ (that actually looked more like a grayscale coloring book) art that Chuck Austen did thousands of years ago. I’d love to see War Machine lead a straight up mecha fight comic that consists of nothing but kicking ass and blowing stuff up, maybe as the grizzled leader of a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven team of other dudes in suits.

  27. Brian J..I also liked the Chuck Austen U.S. War Machine book… it was one of the reasons I was hyped to read his take on the X-Men and…well we all know what a trainwreck that became…

    James Rhodes is War Machine… Iron Man 2.0 is DEMEANING and subconsciously implies that he has never stepped out of Tony’s shadow. That would have been the same as Dick Grayson in his Nightwing outfit being called either Batman 2.0 or Robin 2.0…

    I agree about the Black Panther but I must admit the “Most Dangerous Man Alive” moniker is cool as hell…. Now where are Marvel Promotions to put T’Challa on T-Shirts with that catchphrase???? You know a lot of folks would buy those….

  28. On the idea of 13 year old miles getting killed seem like a nice story if only they kill him the same way the first one, death by punisher.

  29. If you take the title at face value… doesn’t 2.0 mean that he’s *better* than Iron Man?

    I’ll shut up now…

  30. The frustrating part of this tactic is that I ignored this book for most of it’s existence because I thought it was just yet-another-Iron-Man-Book. Eventually, somebody mentioned to me that there was a Rhodey book being written by Nick Spencer which came as news to me. I picked up the next issue, and before I could decide if I’d buy the one after that, I heard the book had been cancelled.

    I see how they ended up at this place. Would this book have sold better under a different name? Probably not. But I have to think there are a pocket of people ignoring this title, who would have tried this book if it had been presented as what it actually was.

  31. I agree that if you’ve totally given up on new or younger readers, it’s a good idea for you to launch your Spider-Man with something other than a one-and-done story.

    If you’re looking to retain some chunk of the people who were considering buying the book as soon as they read about it on this or another comics-oriented website, as soon as it was announced, yeah, drag that fucker out like usual.