Ales Kot's first issue was all about the man inside the Iron Patriot armor, James Rhodes. It showed his struggle to bond with his father and niece, the new direction he's taking as a hero, and made sure to remind us that the man is still incredibly patriotic. We did, however, also get a glimpse of a darker road that lies ahead. There's a dying Rhodes, a new armored villain, and, well, monsters of some kind prior to that. Needless to say, the debut issue wasn't about selling us on the threats and instead focused on showing us who James Rhodes truly is. Now that he's established the protagonist and introduced his supporting cast, Kot dedicates a fair amount of this second issue to shining a little more light on Rhodes' opponent while also giving little hints about what his objective is. He doesn't reveal the big picture yet; just enough to hook our curiosity and make us want to see what else is part of this grand plan and why it's being put into action. As stated above, the last issue revealed a future where Rhodes is seemingly going to meet his end. In this issue, Kot reveals how the hero winds up in that position, and I'll admit it's a path I'm pretty sure no one guessed. However, there is a bit of dialogue right before this cliffhanger which makes the next step seem somewhat predictable. Only time will tell though, right?
For me, artist Garry Brown and colorist Jim Charalampidis' pages were a bit of a mixed bag in the premiere issue. The armor and settings looked enjoyable unique, but close-ups suffered from fluctuating detail and facial features (most notably the eyes). That said, I have nothing but love for their artwork in this issue. From the superb transition in the beginning to a wonderfully clever panel layout of Iron Patriot underwater, this issue was a real delight for my eyes. Major praise is also deserved for an especially powerful set of panels which focus on Rhodes as he faces an immense challenge. Plus, isn't that cover so appropriate and awesome?
I'm curious to see where this series will go next, but for $3.99 an issue, this hasn't pulled me in quite like its competition has. This is partially due to the fact that these first two issues have to establish so much (his family, the threat, etc), and, to be totally honest, I don't feel that strong of an emotional connection to his family. Now that a lot of the basics are out of the way, hopefully things will get a tad more alluring as we move forward.
IRON PATRIOT #2 steps up the excitement and offers some legitimately praiseworthy and creative pages. It's by no means one of the most engaging new Marvel titles around -- at least not yet -- but this chapter definitely feels like an improvement over the first. Considering the book's about to dive into some heavy political themes, it has me interested in seeing where it'll go next and how Rhodes will handle the subject.