Picked this book up at the library to see what's new in the life of Jim Rhodes. He's hard to keep track of. Though the original character design was a winner, and fans loved the character in the movie Iron Man 2, War Machine has gone through many changes in the comics - mostly to the detriment of the character. Marvel doesn't seem to know what to do with this character - at least in terms of keeping him in a solo book. As a supporting character, he's worked just fine in many books. On his own, not so much.
In this latest series, Jim Rhodes is back to being a full human again. For those who missed it, in his last on-going series, he was half cyborg. Now, thanks to the miracles of comic-book-science, Jim's consciousness and memories reside in a perfect clone of his former body. He's even the same age as he was before. Isn't that nice? In comic book worlds, if you die or are on the brink of death, it seems someone always has a clone of your body just waiting for you to conveniently slip into! Yes, I'm being sarcastic...
Jim is now friends with Tony Stark, again, and fills a role similar to the one he had in the movie - Stark's liason to the military and vice versa. After nearly dying in an atomic blast (isn't it wonderful how comic-book characters can survive those?), Tony helps out his old buddy by giving him his new "Iron Man 2.0" suit. Definitely more like his old Stealth Iron Man armor than the former "guns'n'glory" War Machine suit, the new suit does many, many things the old suit couldn't, yet is much more lightly armed and has a more limited power supply. While most everything the suit can do is far-flung science fiction, the suit does have a certain asthetic appeal. More than the old suit? No - definitely not.
Now, while we are being introduced to the new status quo of both Rhodes and the new armor, what's going on with the story? Well, that's a bit hard to describe. You have a couple of issues of Rhodes and his support staff trying to hunt down a tech-based terrorist who used to work for Uncle Sam. No resolution of that particular plot, and you are left questioning where that plot is going and if it is interesting enough to stick around to find out. The second half of this trade is a Fear Itself tie-in story. War Machine (now Iron Man 2.0) teams up with Iron Fist and the other Immortal Weapons (Why them?) to stop an interdimensional magical threat. There is a new "evil" immortal weapon introduced, a scuffle with Titania and the new 'hammerized" Absorbing Man, Iron Fist goes evil for a bit, a gateway to the Eighth City of Hell is mysteriously opened and closed, and Iron Man 2.0 wants to help rebuild a ruined city in China. It's a lot of helter-skelter nonsense and pretty dull to read.
So, overall, I was not impressed with the new direction they are taking this character. Long-time fans of the character will find this book more interesting than most, but with such a mixed bag of stories (and artists) in this trade, it seems a poor re-launch of yet another War Machine series. I have a feeling this series won't last more than a year if this is the best Marvel can offer. This is definitely not a book I would recommend anyone purchasing. Read a library copy if you must.