War Machine #5
Marvel (August, 1997)
“The Wages Of Death”
WRITERS: Scott Benson & Len Kaminski
PENCILER: Gabriel Gecko
INKER: Pam Eklund
LETTERER: John Costanza
EDITOR: Nel Yomtov
Folks, I want to do my usual impartial thing, but we’re talking about a reincarnating assassin named Deathtoll. This is a character interesting in concept, but “oh no, not the 90s again” in execution…no pun intended. The comic starts with him wasting Yakuza. They do shoot him, but he comes back to like after becoming the Human Torch for a few seconds. He also apparently has a counter for how many lives he has left. The Marvel wiki has so little on this guy that it isn’t worth talking about. He’s then hired by some mysterious person to take down War Machine.
Meanwhile, apparently not having saved the guy from issue #1 and killed a bunch of baddies, War Machine is on the outs with the US government and the UN, and Worldwatch is in their gun-sights. Rhodey takes the job as head of Worldwatch and decides to be a bit more hands-on, spearheading an investigation into a mass grave in Catanero, which upsets Deathtoll’s current employer. After the assassin fails to kill War Machine (even losing a life in the process), he’s given a second target, namely Rhodey!
I want to find something positive to say beyond being glad War Machine got his own comic. I like Rhodey and I’m glad he isn’t in Iron Man’s shadow, despite running a major company that just happens to not be a Stark company and is a non-profit aid and investigation group. However, I don’t like seeing my superheroes kill people, especially when he doesn’t know the man can reincarnate himself. (What little info the Marvel Database does have says in a dream we learn he got some gift from Kali or something. I’m pretty sure there’s a reason he only has four appearances according to the site.) The 90s art style isn’t as bad here. That’s all I have.
Deathtoll is annoying. It seems the writers decided to (rightfully perhaps, but it’s still a political message that’s going to turn some people off) call out the UN about some of the countries they have with them, ignoring their civil rights violations, and it is worse today as some offenders are ON the security council! I’m worried this comic is going to be all about human rights violations and I signed on for a superhero comic.
I want to recommend this comic. I like the character, I like at least one of the writers (I don’t know the other one), but this comic does nothing for me and I just can’t. If it sounds interesting to you go for it. I think I’m pulling this one out of my collection though.