Characters Appearing: Abe Zimmer, Baron Von Strucker, Hate-Monger (Animus), Henry Pym, Nick Fury, Super-Adaptoid, War Machine
Marvel Comics Presents #152-155 (War Machine)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #152, Marvel Comics Presents #153, Marvel Comics Presents #154, Marvel Comics Presents #155 (War Machine story only)
James Rhodes is trying to figure out what to do with his life after the dissolution of the West Coast Avengers, especially since Tony Stark is now involved in whatever the team may become (and he wants nothing to do with Tony). He remembers having dealt with the gang who wore War Machine faces on their jackets (from the back-up), and especially the leader of the Sons of the Serpent, the Hate-Monger, who was supplying the gang with weapons.
Rhodey decides to visit one of the gang members, Hector, in the hospital. Since he's disillusioned at the moment, he goes without his War Machine armor. Rhodey finds that Hector was checked out of the hospital and was subsequently killed. Rhodey blames himself. He tries to reach out to various people for help but doesn't get good results (especially from Henry Pym). So he puts on the War Machine armor after all. He goes to confront the War Machines gang, but they insist that they ain't do Hector because Hector their boy.
But it turns out the people that did kill Hector are right outside, coming to finish off the rest of the gang.
War Machine stops the attackers, but they turn out to be Hydra agents equipped with suicide pills.
Rhodey recruits the War Machines to hit the streets and look for information. He then goes home, puts on his best skintight green sweater, and maps out the players involved in all of this.
He figures out that something is missing from the equation, but he hears from one of the War Machines that the word on the street is "hot mouth" which is the English translation of Boca Caliente, aka AIM island.
War Machine has the War Machines take out a contingent of the Sons of the Serpent so that they can wear their uniforms.
They then take out the AIM suppliers.
Still dressed as Serpents, the War Machines shoot up Hydra agents who are dealing drugs.
War Machine then contacts Baron Strucker and Alessandro Brannex offering to help with their mutual problem, the Hate-Monger (the leader of the Serpents).
A wrinkle in the plan comes when one of the disguised War Machines reacts to the Hate-Monger making a disparaging "monkey" comment.
But War Machine jumps in with AIM and Hydra.
The Hate-Monger tries to convince AIM and Hydra that War Machine set him up, but the goons have their orders and they attack. Hate-Monger escapes, but several (real) Sons of the Serpents are killed. It later turns out that Strucker, at least, knew all along that the Hate-Monger wasn't betraying him. But he doesn't care.
I think it's interesting that Strucker sees the Hate-Monger as just a "fanatic" whereas we've seen him to have supernatural attributes (and certainly War Machine doesn't think he's just a nobody; when AIM and Hydra say that they're going to hunt him down, War Machine expresses doubt and thinks to himself that "he's like mildew, always grows back"). I'd like to have seen more of an examination of this Hate-Monger, and maybe even a confrontation or tie-in with the Peace-Monger who has also appeared in a couple of Marvel Comics Presents stories.
It also turns out that the War Machines gang members stole high tech weaponry during the fight, so they've basically learned nothing. So overall, War Machine is feeling a sense of futility.
This was actually pretty decent. I'm embarrassed by Len Kaminski and/or Scott Benson's "street" dialogue and the usual automatic defaulting to gang-type plots whenever the main character is black. But at least War Machine has his own series coming up with the same writers where there will be opportunity to do more with him. And the story is written and illustrated with more competency than the average Marvel Comics Presents story. I also liked seeing the kind of ecosystem that exists between AIM, Hydra, and other groups.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the dissolution of the West Coast Avengers in Avengers West Coast #102 but before War Machine #1.
As far as i know, AIM's chief executive Alessandro Brannex is still really the Super-Adaptoid. The MCP don't list the Adaptoid as appearing in this story, but i think that's a (very understandable) miss, not an indication that something's changed with Brannex.
While deciding what he's going to do with his life, Rhodey listens to messages on his answering machine. Nick Fury and Silver Sable are among the people who have left messages, but we don't know when they left them so they don't count as Characters Appearing. But i'd guess that it was supposed to be Fury in the scene where War Machine is contacting other people for help (based on the smoke; random characters aren't allowed to smoke in comics anymore, but Nick Fury and a few others get grandfathered in).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Abe says the search program would take 3 WEEKS to run? Remember, we're already in the early internet at this point. Kaminski and Benson didn't know how ridiculous a search program taking 3 weeks sounds?
Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2018 7:58 PM
Baron Von Strucker regarding the Hate-Monger as a "fanatic" does actually make sense. Yes, Strucker has been depicted as something of a racist in the past, but not to the point where it causes him to act too irrationally. I recall at least once in the Sgt Fury series Strucker got pissed off at Hitler for his obsession with wiping out the Jews, not because Strucker found the Holocaust immoral but because he regarded it as a stupid waste of resources that could have been used for Nazi Germany's war effort. So I can certainly see him viewing the Hate-Monger as a useful temporary ally who would eventually be disposed of.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 18, 2018 1:31 PM
This was pretty interesting for a then-current MCP story. I also miss colorists highlighting black hair with the color blue in comics.
Posted by: Wis | April 18, 2018 1:37 PM
Ben, the problem with Strucker calling the Hate-Monger a "fanatic" is that the Hate Monger is a supernatural personification of hatred. It would be like if someone called Hela or Seth a fanatic when it comes to death or Mephisto a fanatic when it comes to evil or D'Spayre a fanatic when it comes to despair.
Posted by: Michael | April 18, 2018 8:05 PM
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