Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: War Machine #22

War Machine #22, "The Last Stand," Cover Date January 1996
Written by Dan Abnett, Penciled by Fred Haynes and Yancey Labat, Inked by Johnny Greene and Jimmy Palmiotti(?!)

War Machine 22 Cover

Where we last the Avengers, Iron Man revealed himself as a pawn of Kang, and has killed Yellowjacket (the Guardian of the Galaxy), Marilla, Luna's nanny, and Amanda Chaney, the PR rep for Force Works. He also blasted Wasp in the face, but it remains to be seen if she'll recover.

We begin the issue where Force Works left off, with War Machine, decked out in his "eidolon warwear," the goofiest, most-90's armor ever, an impressive feat for a character named "War Machine." War Machine says he doesn't want to attack Iron Man, but Iron Man is a full-on supervillain, saying Rhodes can surrender if he wants, but he can't guarantee there won't be bloodshed. War Machine blasts Stark, but he reappears beneath him. War Machine thinks that he hasn't seen Iron Man behave so "murderously," noting that Stark's not the man he knew. Iron Man blasts War Machine's warwear drones, causing feedback to War Machine, who feels the drones "die." Iron Man says "very fancy, Jim. But nothing like enough." War Machine asks why Iron Man's doing this, and Iron Man says he doesn't owe Rhodes a "blasted thing."

No time to draw Cybermancer's arm.

Nearby, Century is with Rachel Carpenter, who he saved last issue. He's confused that his friends are fighting, and wonders what on earth is going on. Rachel says he should go help Amanda, who she heard being blasted in the last issue of Force Works. Back at the battle site, War Machine worries that he's killed Iron Man, but even though he doesn't detect any vital signs, Iron Man lunges at War Machine, grabbing his neck.

War Machine 22 Cybermancer Century
Some excellent 90's art.

Inside Force Works HQ, Century finds Amanda's corpse, and lets out a "by sacred feth, no!" in response. Cybermancer is there, and calls him E.T., and says he should've stayed in space (I agree). Century counters that he belongs where his friends need him, calling her "Cybermancer," even though she gained the name after he left for space. She points out that corny greeting card philosophy won't save him.

On the road somewhere nearby, U.S. Agent and Black Widow are driving a van back towards the base. The two notice one of War Machine's drones, and wonder if it's a warning. In the Force Works basement, Century teleports away from an attack, then blasts Cybermancer, then disables her "weapon-glove." She fires a heat-seeking blast at Century, but he disappears, and the missile flies at her, causing her to shout "wha-? Nooooo!"Century promptly gets rid of the missile (I guess), but then punches Cybermancer out. Century notices something going on, and Plato reveals that he's initiated a world-scale version of what happened in Vietnam. Century doesn't have the ability to override the command, and he's told he has 21 hours before earth gets time-junk washed over it.

War Machine 22 War Machine Iron Man fight

Meanwhile, War Machine is being choked through his armor, but blasts Iron Man full in the face with a mighty "FOOOOOOM!" Tony says he's impressed, and turns his back on Rhodes. War Machine asks for his surrender. Iron Man calls his bluff, asking if he'll shoot him in the back. War Machine hesitates, saying he will if he has to, but immediately retracts his statement, saying there's been too much killing already. Iron Man says he thought as much, and fires a repulsor into War Machine's gut, then flies off. He activates "Command Mordred," which authorizes Plato to use lethal force. U.S. Agent and Black Widow appear, and find War Machine, who insists he's healing. Century zaps in with Amanda Chaney's corpse, and tells the assembled heroes that Stark has killed her. He asks what he's returned to, and U.S. Agent replies "a nightmare, pal." At that moment, Scarlet Witch and the other members of Force Works appear. Black Widow catches everyone up to speed, and Black Widow and Moonraker/Libra are teleported back to New York, while the rest of the team goes to investigate Century's claims that there's a doomsday device thing in the basement. The team heads down, only to find multiple instances of Plato in threatening, sexual poses, as Plato states that if the team doesn't vacate immediately they'll be destroyed. To be continued!

War Machine 22 ending
Why did Tony Stark program that computer's butt in so much detail?

Review: War Machine continues to be perhaps the least important book to the overall story, as this issue is almost entirely dedicated to a fight that War Machine obviously isn't going to win. It also features as a bit of an addendum to last week's Force Works, as the last few pages is basically setting up that team's story (I doubt it'll get progressed much in Iron Man or Avengers, considering the Avengers haven't done anything in two issues of this crossover). It really feels like this book and Force Works are barely connected to the storyline going on in Avengers, as this far into the crossover, the teams really should be united in some way beyond Black Widow driving in a van with U.S. Agent.

The art is once again extremely inconsistent, as Haynes continues to do his best Image house-style audition, but Yancey Labat is somehow worse. Labat is doing some really bizarre cheesecake-y stuff that's very crudely done, as it feels like he must've been drawing on a deadline. In all, this book is in a dead-heat with Iron Man for "worst ongoing Avengers book," excluding Avengers Unplugged, which might somehow be even worse than either.

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