September 18, 2022 15 min read

War Machine(James Rhodes) is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by David Michelinie, John Byrne and Bob Layton and first appeared in Iron Man #118(Jan. 1979). The War Machine armor was designed by Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood.

Publication History(1)

Initially a supporting character in volume one of Iron Man, Rhodes later assumed the mantle of Iron Man after Tony Stark's relapse into alcoholism in issue #170 (May 1983). The character would continue in a supporting role and later resume the role of Iron Man following Stark's purported death in issue #284 (Sept. 1992). After Stark's return to the role of Iron Man, Rhodes continued as the superhero War Machine and made his solo series debut in an eponymous title after being featured as a supporting character in the superhero-team series Avengers West Coast.

In addition to Iron Man and his own title War Machine, Rhodes has been featured in the ensemble titles West Coast Avengers; Force Works by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Sentinel Squad O*N*E; The Crew by Christopher Priest; and Avengers: The Initiative by Dan Slott and Christos Gage. Rhodes was also featured in the alternate-reality Marvel MAX imprint's U.S. War Machine series by Chuck Austen, and U.S. War Machine 2.0, by Austen and Christian Moore.

In the series Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Rhodes was featured in the storyline "War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D." written by Gage and artist Sean Chen. In this tie-in to the company-wide storyline "Secret Invasion," War Machine replaced Iron Man as the protagonist for the final three issues of the series. This led into a second War Machine ongoing series, written by Greg Pak with art by Leonardo Manco, which lasted 12 issues. War Machine appeared as a regular character in the 2010-2013 Secret Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through issue #21 (March 2012), and guest starred in issues #26-28 during the "Avengers vs. X-Men" storyline. Rhodes was the lead character of the 2011-12 series Iron Man 2.0 by writer Nick Spencer. The most recent series focusing on Rhodes was Iron Patriot, an All-New Marvel NOW! title by writer Ales Kot and artist Garry Brown. The series lasted five issues before cancellation.

Fictional Character Biography(2)

James "Rhodey" Rhodes was a US Marine who served several tours in Southeast Asia while studying to become an aviation engineer. In the service, he grew close with his comrade Parnell Jacobs, whom he introduced to childhood friend Glenda Sandoval. Parnell and Glenda eventually fell in love and married.

Rhodes was a soldier with a conscience, willing to kill if a mission required it, yet haunted by every life he took. During one mission, Rhodes’ helicopter was shot down in a jungle and was discovered by Iron Man (Tony Stark), who had recently escaped from the guerrilla Wong-Chu and needed transportation. Iron Man helped repair Rhodes’ helicopter and they made it to safety together. Afterward, Rhodes was approached by Tony Stark, claiming to be Iron Man’s "employer," and was offered a job as Stark’s pilot. Rhodes agreed to take him up on his offer when his tour of duty was completed. For a while, Rhodes worked as a mercenary with Parnell, but when he caught Parnell running guns to the dictatorship of Santo Marco, he went back to Tony to make good on his word.

THE NEW IRON MAN

Rhodes served for some time at Stark International as Stark’s pilot and became Tony’s close friend, risking his life to aid Tony against enemies such as Justin Hammer and the Maggia. He watched helplessly as Stark gradually gave in to alcoholism. After a humiliating defeat battling the villain Magma (Jonathan Darque) while intoxicated, Iron Man went to Rhodes for help recharging his armor and inadvertently revealed his identity. Too inebriated to continue his fight with Magma, Stark passed out and Rhodes donned the armor becoming Iron Man for the first time. He saved Stark International from Magma’s rampage and Stark asked him to continue as Iron Man.

Although a novice, Rhodes’ combat experience served him well for his new role as a super hero. Meanwhile, Stark continued to drink and eventually lost Stark International to his rival Obadiah Stane. Rhodes made sure Tony’s alternate Iron Man armors were destroyed to prevent them from falling into Stane’s hands and carried on Iron Man’s tradition.

SECRET WARS AND POWERFUL ALLIES

As Iron Man, Jim faced threats from foes like Thunderball, the Radioactive Man, and the Mandarin. Together with many of Earth’s heroes, he fought against an army of some of the toughest super villains on the constructed planet called Battleworld during the near-omnipotent Beyonder's so-called “Secret Wars.” Most of these heroes continued to believe he was the original Iron Man. Soon after his return from Battleworld, Rhodes learned that Stark was trying to make a recovery and gradually allowed him back into his life. Rhodes, Stark and inventor siblings Morley and Clytemnestra Erwin set up their own company, Circuits Maximus.

Though his teammates assumed he was the same Iron Man who helped found the Avengers, Rhodes joined the West Coast branch of the Avengers in Los Angeles under the leadership of Hawkeye. Hawkeye was shocked when he learned that he was not working with the original armored hero.

Rhodes’ time as Iron Man ended when Obadiah Stane blew up Circuits Maximus, killing Morley and injuring Rhodes. He offered his Iron Man armor back to Tony so he could bring down Stane, but Stark built a new suit of armor instead and faced Stane in a battle that ended with Stane’s suicide. Stark remained active as Iron Man, and Rhodes resumed his role as his pilot and confidant at the new company Stark Enterprises. However, Rhodes became Iron Man again to aid the Avengers against the renegade mutant Quicksilver, the Zodiac Life Model Decoys (LMDs) and to help Tony against the Living Laser. While re-entering Earth’s atmosphere from an excursion to Stark Satellite One, Rhodes was badly burned through the armor and thereafter seldom wore it. During this time, he was romantically involved with Stark’s public relations director Marcy Pearson. Tony began to suffer from nervous system troubles during his clashes with Kearson DeWitt, causing Rhodes to become Iron Man again to help fight DeWitt and later the Mandarin and Fin Fang Foom.

I AM WAR MACHINE

Before Tony suffered from a total nervous system collapse, he transferred control of Stark Enterprises to Rhodes and left him his most recent Iron Man suit (nicknamed the "War Machine" armor). Rhodes reluctantly honored his best friend’s dying wish and became Iron Man again. His first action as CEO of Stark Enterprises was to fire his girlfriend Marcy Pearson, whose ruthless career goals had soured their relationship. Subsequently, he became involved with Rae LaCoste, a former girlfriend of Tony’s. Believing Tony Stark to be dead, Rhodes was insulted when he learned that Tony had faked his death so his scientists could find a cure for his condition while sustained in a cryogenic state. Tony let Rhodey keep the War Machine armor as a peace offering, but Rhodes wanted nothing else to do with him. As War Machine, he rejoined the West Coast Avengers, but resigned after an angry confrontation with Iron Man during a team meeting preceding the closing of the West Coast Avengers branch.

JIM RHODES: DIRECTOR OF WORLDWATCH

Rhodey accepted the role of director of Worldwatch, a human rights organization, where he gained valuable allies including former Mossad/S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Bathsheva Joseph. During this time, Tony and Rhodey finally came to terms in the course of a team-up against the Mandarin. War Machine and Bathsheva time traveled to World War II to stop Grinz, a Nazi officer who was receiving advanced technology from his son Raeder from modern times. Rhodes killed Grinz to prevent Raeder from being born and the resulting paradox shunted Rhodes and Bathsheva back to their own time. The War Machine armor was seemingly destroyed in transit.

Bonded to a suit of ancient alien Eidolon Warwear armor, Rhodey was forced to battle a mind-controlled Tony Stark, who had become a sleeper agent of Immortus. Stark gave his life opposing Immortus. S.H.I.E.L.D. sought to study the Warwear and attempted to capture Rhodes, but he resisted them and resigned from Worldwatch to preserve the organization’s good name.

SEPARATIONS, BANKRUPTCY AND MURDER

With Tony gone, Stark Enterprises became Stark-Fujikawa. Rhodey was offered a position with them, but upon learning that they were after the secrets of the Iron Man armor, he sacrificed his Warwear in order to purge Tony’s computers of all data on the armor. No longer able to continue as War Machine, he began performing marine salvage with his own company, Rhodes Recovery. Soon after, Tony returned to life thanks to Franklin Richards’ reality-altering powers. Rhodes Recovery eventually went bankrupt as a consequence of Jim’s extravagant lifestyle and an unscrupulous accountant.

At that time, Jim’s sister Jeanette was killed by members of the 66 Bridges gang. Unable to get at her killers through the police, Rhodes became a vigilante to bring the 66 Bridges to justice. Rhodes used part of a prototype War Machine armor to face off with Triage, the head of this gang, and they were dispersed by Rhodes and his allies.

MUTANT MANAGEMENT

When the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E) began to train human pilots in the use of giant mutant hunting robotic Sentinels, Tony arranged for Rhodes to be assigned as their drill sergeant. He donned a new suit of armor based on the Iron Man designs in order to lead O*N*E and also piloted his own Sentinel nicknamed “War Machine.” He led a team of O*N*E pilots against the Savage Land Mutates and aided the X-Men against their foe Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur). When the superhuman community was plunged into a civil war over disagreement on the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA), of which Tony was a major proponent, Rhodes piloted the War Machine Sentinel in an attempt to arrest the Black Panther (T’Challa) and Storm (Ororo Munroe) for violating the SHRA. However, his Sentinel was badly damaged. The Black Panther saved Rhodes from angry protesters and the latter encouraged Iron Man to let the Panther and Storm depart in peace.

WE CAN REBUILD HIM

While testing fighter jets in Dubai, Rhodes was attacked by terrorists and suffered horrific injuries costing him all four limbs and most of the right side of his face. Tony intervened and used bleeding edge technology to build him cybernetic replacements. Rhodes’ ex-girlfriend Bethany Cabe prepared a genetic clone of Jim’s body with the ultimate goal of transferring his consciousness into it. Requiring an external power source to stay alive, Rhodey once again became War Machine and seldom removed the armor, finding that he was incapable of sleep due to his cybernetic link. The armor Tony provided Rhodes was constructed of mostly non-Stark parts as a failsafe in case Tony’s systems were infiltrated.

War Machine was made the field commander to oversee Camp Hammond, in Stamford, Connecticut, where the 50-state Initiative enacted by the SHRA began to prepare registered superhuman cadets for their licensed activities. When the Skrulls, led by Queen Veranke, attacked Earth, disabling Stark’s technology, Rhodes received a coded message from Tony directing him to a stealth satellite in Earth’s orbit specially designed to equip his armor and combat the Skrull threat.

When the invasion was over, Norman Osborn (the pardoned Green Goblin) had become leader of the Initiative and H.A.M.M.E.R. (replacing S.H.I.E.L.D.) and obtained his own Iron Man armor as the Iron Patriot. Though he was under Osborn’s command, Rhodes attempted to covertly aid Tony, now a wanted fugitive, in escaping Osborn. War Machine protected the world from the threat of the infectious robotic extraterrestrial Ultimo virus, and earned the adulation of the Olympian god, Ares.

A NEW BEGINNING

Osborn raided the facility where Rhodes’ clone body was kept to use as blackmail against Rhodey. Undaunted, Rhodes went rogue along with five allies calling themselves “Team War Machine” who helped destroy the remaining Ultimo parts. The Iron Patriot assisted Rhodes against Ultimo, but then captured Rhodes and sent him to the International Criminal Court. After Ares broke him out of custody, Rhodey sacrificed his life to save a child from an attack by Osborn. However, at the moment of Rhodes’ death, Suzi Endo (aka Cybermancer) transferred Jim’s consciousness into the waiting clone body. No longer a cyborg, Rhodey donned a new suit of War Machine armor to continue his adventures.

Powers, Skills and Abilities(3)

Skills

Rhodes was trained as an aircraft pilot and studied aviation engineering while in service with the United States Marine Corps. He is knowledgeable in aircraft operation/maintenance and has piloted various aircraft at Stark Enterprises. Rhodes is an experienced soldier trained in unarmed combat and military weaponry such as small arms. In addition to being a pilot, engineer, soldier, and businessman, Rhodes derives multiple abilities from various hi-tech armors, either designed by Stark Industries or extraterrestrial in nature. With his years of experience with both the Iron Man and War Machine powered armors, Rhodes is skilled in armored combat and uses a more physical fighting style compared to Stark.

Armors

Iron Man Armor V

First Appearance: Iron Man #85 (April 1976)

Rhodes' first armor as Iron Man was a solar charged carbon-composite based steel mesh armor which provided him with superhuman-level strength and durability. It was armed with repulsors in each palm of the armor's gauntlets and a multifunctional unibeam projector in the chest.

War Machine Armor

First Appearance: Iron Man #282 (July 1992)

The original Variable Threat Response Battle Suit Mark I was a version of the Iron Man armor utilizing laser guided munitions. Stark gave Rhodes a modified version of the armor, Mark II Model JRXL-1000, created just for him with the inclusion of repulsors and a unibeam projector. The armor could be modified with various modular weapons and has an improved tactical computer system with automatic targeting. Additional weapons included pulse bolt generators, retractable shoulder minigun, variable-configured double-barrel cannons on each gauntlet, gauntlet mounted flamethrower, plasma blade on the left gauntlet, missile box launcher, micro-rocket launcher, particle beam discharger, and an electromagnetic pulse generator in the unibeam projector that could shut down any electronic device in a 50-mile radius. The armor also included a photon emitter that created a force shield, forcefield-based stealth technology, boot-jet propulsion, and a self-contained breathing system.

The second version of the armor, reconfigured by Stark, contained upgraded improvements such as heat seeking missile launchers, pulse cannon, and retractable weapon pods located on its back. Rhodes utilized different types of specialty ammunition as well as non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets. Though Rhodes lost the original armor, he still possessed a functional prototype helmet and gauntlet.

Eidolon Warwear

First Appearance: War Machine #18 (September 1995)

The armor is a symbiotic bio-armor system of alien origin and provided Rhodes with superhuman strength, durability, and speed. The armor responded to Rhodes' commands and created weapons based on his thoughts and needs. When inactive, it was concealed inside a "mandala" or tattoo-like mark on Rhodes' chest. The left arm is capable of firing destructive energy blasts while the right arm is able to morph into a blade. The armor can "unskin" remote drones that are capable of feats such as discharging various types of energy, infiltrating electronic/computer systems, creating energy fields, and completing basic tasks. If the drones are destroyed, Rhodes feels pain due to the symbiotic connection. The armor can morph into a "full battle mode," which provided unspecified enhancement to both the armor and Rhodes himself. It was also capable of space travel with an unlimited life support system. During battle, the armor would have the strange ability to "sing" alien war songs.

Sentinel Squad Armor

First Appearance: Sentinel Squad O.N.E. #1 (March 2006)

During the Sentinel Squad O*N*E series, he used an armor that was similar to the design of previous Iron Man powered armors and was based on the primary Sentinel piloted armors that the squad used in combat. The armor was derived of S.H.I.E.L.D. technology and Stark-designed upgrades. Rhodes also piloted a larger advanced Sentinel model codenamed "War Machine". The armors were constructed of a unique mix of steel and fiberglass and contained many offensive and defensive improvements in weaponry and enhancements.

Stanetech Based War Machine Armor

First Appearance: Avengers: The Initiative #1 (March 2007)

Used during Avengers: The Initiative to volume two of War Machine, this version of the War Machine armor shows all the abilities of the previous iterations with bleeding edge military ballistics and weaponry. Unlike previous War Machine armors, the armor incorporated advanced components derived from Obadiah Stane's reverse engineering of older Iron Man armor that made him immune to any Starktech based systems attack. Rhodes' bionics required an added life support system with cybernetic implants linked to the armor's systems. The armor is composed of alloys such as titanium and Wakandan vibranium, coated for stealth capabilities, and capable of space and underwater travel. Armaments included sonic generators, pulse bolts, a minigun, and a retractable unibeam projector. The armor can interface with any system and has interlocking capabilities that integrated mechanical constructs to repair and upgrade the armor. During the second War Machine series, Rhodes used this ability to merge with jet fighters and tanks deliberately to gain their technology and weapons. At the end of the series, Rhodes (Now in a cloned version of his body) is seen wearing a non-cybernetic version of the armor.

War Machine Armor V

First Appearance: Secret Avengers #1 (May 2010)

Used during issues of Secret Avengers and appearances in other comic series, this upgraded incarnation of the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit has a similar design to the movie version of the War Machine armor with armaments similar to previous incarnations such as a retractable shoulder minigun, repulsor technology, and shoulder missile launcher. The armor was destroyed by a nuclear attack in the first arc of the series Iron Man 2.0.

"Iron Man 2.0" War Machine Armor

First Appearance: Iron Man 2.0 #3 (April 2011)

Created in the series Iron Man 2.0 by Tony Stark, this War Machine armor is a complete redesign after the destruction of the previous model. Designed by Iron Man 2.0 artist Barry Kitson, the armor emphasizes stealth, recon, infiltration, and combat readiness. Unlike its predecessors, it is a slimmed down armor with no visible external weaponry such as shoulder miniguns or missile launchers. The armor's color scheme is gunmetal with black detailing and has two lines on the helmet's left eye area that glows according to the repulsor reactor's color. The armor utilizes upgraded technology such as an updated Chameleon Mode (previously a feature of the "Silver Centurion" Iron Man armor) for optical invisibility, holographic projection, and camouflage purposes. The armor also possesses Ghost technology to phase through solid objects, scanner invisibility to become undetectable to all targeting systems, and a Combat Mode that can deploy weaponry which is normally hidden and increase the size and bulk of the armor. But the armor has limitations such as strain of the armor's repulsor reactor, disorientation from the Chameleon Mode, and the inability to be both invisible and intangible at the same time due to a compatibility issue.

Iron Patriot Armor

First Appearance: Gambit (Vol. 3) #13 (May 2013)

Patterned after Norman Osborn's Iron Patriot armor, the new suit is stated to be a prototype model by Rhodes. In addition to shoulder-mounted machine guns, the armor possesses whip-like electroshock weapons that can incapacitate targets. The armor has also demonstrated camouflage and stealth abilities similar to those of the Iron Man 2.0 model.

Supporting Characters

Allies

James Rhodes has a number of allies including Iron man, Captain America, The Avengers, Spider-man, Black Panther, Storm and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

Enemies

Rhodes has a number of enemies including Iron Monger, Whiplash, M.O.D.O.K., Ultron, Atom-Smasher, Chemistro and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

Movies

Iron Man(2008)

Iron man was the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it was directed by Jon Favreau. The movie featured Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James Rhodes and Jeff Bridgesas Obadaiah Stane/Iron Monger. The movie performed well both critically and financially.

 

 

 

 

You can check out the trailer below

Iron Man 2(2010)

Iron man 2 was the sequel to Iron man and was the third movie in the MCU. The movie was directed by Jon Favreau and featured Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Iron man, Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Mickey Rourkeas Whiplash. The movie performed well financially, but was received with mixed reviews.

 

 

 

You can check out the trailer below

Iron Man 3(2013)

Iron man 3 was the third Iron man movie and was directed by Shane Black. It  featured Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Iron man, Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadleas James Rhodes/Iron Patriot, Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin and Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian. The movie performed well both financially and critically.

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out the trailer below

Avengers: Age Of Ultron(2015)

Avengers: Age Of Ultron was the sequel to The Avengers and was the 11th installment in the MCU. It was directed by Joss Whedon and featured Robert Downey Jr. as Iron man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Paul Bettany as Vision,Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor Johnson as Quicksilver and Ultron voiced by James Spader. The movie performed well both critically and financially.

 

 

Captain America: Civil War(2016)

Captain America: Civil War is the 13th installment in the MCU. It was directed by the Russo Brothers(Anthony Russo and Joe Russo). The movie featured Robert Downey Jr. as Iron man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch,Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Hollandas Spider-man. The movie was a huge hit, it performed extremely well financially and critically. It is considered to be the best superhero movie.

 

 

You can check out the trailer below

Notable Comics(4)

Comics Writer(s) Artist(s)
Iron Man Vol. 1 #169 Denny O'Neil Luke McDonnell, Steve Mitchell, Bob Sharen
Iron Man Vol. 1 #280-291 Len Kaminski Kevin Hopgood, Andrew, Pepoy, Mike Rockwitz
U.S. War Machine #1-12 Check Austen Chuck Austen
Ultimate Iron Man #1-5, Ultimate Iron Man II #1-5 Orson Scott Card Pasqual Ferry, Dean White
War Machine Vol. 2 #1-12 Greg Pak Leonardo Manko, Jay David Ramos

 

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 Sources

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Machine#Publication_history

2.http://marvel.com/universe/War_Machine_%28James_Rhodes%29

3.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Machine#Powers_and_abilities

4.http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/04/10/the-best-of-war-machine?page=1