Plot: James Rhodes, aka the War Machine, is captured during the battle against the Skrull advance into Russia, all without the help of the Russians. Finding himself moments from execution by dissection, Rhodes makes use of his cybernetic implants to free himself from his bonds, suit up, and take the fight back to the Skrulls. Many explosions ensue!
Comments: Alright, first things first. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this review is not entirely objective. In fact, it is terribly biased. I have always found War Machine an appealing character, and in the wake of both this year’s Iron Man movie and Marvel’s Secret Invasion event, I could not wait to see James Rhodes take out his customized brushed-steel can opener and unreservedly open up a giant can in response to the Skrull invasion. Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #35 provides just such a spectacle.
Secret Invasion has been described as Marvel’s equivalent to a popcorn film, summer blockbuster. And if that is true for the main event, then it is doubly so for this Secret Invasion tie-in. Skrulls drop left and right; they are burned, beaten, blasted, incinerated, exploded, impaled, and receive any number of other painful offensive maneuvers. Christos Gage keeps the story moving at a break neck pace. From War Machine’s break out from within his Skrull prison, to the melee on the ground with the Winter Guard, to the battle against the Skurll armada in the skies above; the momentum never stops.
One of the greatest moments in this issue occurs during the ground battle between the Winter Guard and a duo of Super-Skrulls. Over the course of three pages of intense hand to hand combat, we follow the Steel Guardian in various panels as he uses his Captain America-esque shield to fend off blows from the Super-Skrulls. With each passing panel, Sean Chen is sure to draw less and less of the shield, until there is little more than a fragment left, which the Steel Guardian then puts to very good use. Sean Chen’s work on these panels is just great, definitely a ton of fun.
Undoubtedly, the dialogue will come across as somewhat stilted at times, or perhaps clichéd, to some. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the interaction between War Machine and his Russian counterparts, particularly the Crimson Dynamo. The final conversation between the two provides some optimism that real heroes transcend politics and it clearly propels Rhodes into his role as a decisive player on the world scene in the coming War Machine ongoing series.
Final Word: If you have been enjoying Secret Invasion, War Machine, or Iron Man, you’ll probably get a kick out of Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #35. The story is fast paced and carries enough action to keep any reader involved. While some of the Skrulls fall a little too conveniently, the battles are terribly fun nonetheless. Adi Granov’s cover art is worth the $2.99 price tag alone. Pick up this issue and treat yourself to a fun ride before the grittier ongoing series begins in December.
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