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Who Is War Machine In Iron Man

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Reading: Who Is War Machine In Iron Man

Though he briefly took over the role of Iron Man himself back in the 1980s, James Rhodes is most known for being Tony Stark's bodyguard, friend, and armored partner, War Machine. Despite his name and design evoking the over-the-top '90s, this incarnation of the character has always been extremely popular. In fact, long before Robert Downey, Jr. reinvigorated Iron Man with mainstream acclaim, the shoulder cannon wielding War Machine was arguably more iconic. Despite Rhodes' claim to the name, there was actually another man to use that armor and moniker in the Marvel comic book universe. A former enemy of War Machine and Iron Man, Parnell Jacobs would later become an ally to Rhodes during the events of one of Marvel's darkest events.


Brother in Arms

Parnell Jacobs was created by Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen in issue #11 of their well-received run on Iron Man, post-Heroes Reborn. His backstory would be further fleshed out in the concurrent War Machine series. He was introduced as a former acquaintance of Rhodey, with the two having received military training together. This gave the two a bond like that of brothers, very similar to Rhodey and Tony Stark years later. Unfortunately, Jacobs took this training and became a mercenary, with his less than moral choices earning him a rather substantial amount of wealth. This would lead to a rift between him and Rhodey, as well as a subsequent partnership with the unscrupulous Stuart Clarke.


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Jacobs would eventually find the remains of one of Rhodey's old War Machine suits, supplying it to Clarke and his other associate, Sunset Bain. Despite promising his wife Glenda that he would get out of the mercenary game, Jacobs began to operate the greatly upgraded armor, even taking on Iron Man with it on behalf of Bain and Clarke. This led to several battles in which the all-new War Machine nearly killed Iron Man. The appearance of his wife, as well as Rhodey, finally convinced him how wrong his actions were. After the War Machine 2.0 outer shell was grievously damaged by a retaliating Iron Man, Jacobs escaped using the inner shell.


Iron Men

These actions eventually led to Jacobs' arrest, and though he was quickly paroled for his crimes, his attempt to reach 0ut to Stuart Clarke for protection against Sunset Bain only resulted in his former ally shooting him and leaving him for dead. Though he would contact his estranged wife, he would remain in hiding, allowing the rumors of his death to go otherwise unchallenged. This new quiet life wouldn't last, as a very different James Rhodes would soon reenter Jacobs' life.

RELATED: An Agent of SHIELD Hero Just Became The War Machine

The second volume of War Machine, which took place during the event Dark Reign, starred a horrifically disfigured James Rhodes. This new cybernetic Rhodey, who was almost as much machine as he was man, came with a similarly robotic sense of justice against those he deemed "bad guys." War Machine found Jacobs in Santo Marco after having defeated the local rebel forces, inducting him into his new "Team War Machine." Admitting that Jacobs' knowledge of the War Machine armor was second only to someone like Tony Stark, Rhodes also informed him that his wife Glenda had been captured by the Eaglestar corporation in Aquira.


Jacobs would be instrumental in Rhodey's plans throughout the series, acting as a pit crew that modified his armor and its weaponry. This included giving the suit the ability to repair and upgrade itself by melding with other technology. This would ironically give Rhodey's armor the tank-like appearance that Jacobs once gave his own suit. The duo would eventually recover Glenda, rounding out their team with Jake Oh and Bethany Cabe. Facing Eaglestar and a virus-derived new form of Ultimo, the team would eventually find a cloned, completely organic body for Rhodey to transfer his consciousness into. The series' conclusion would be his last appearance in the mainstream universe, though he also had a role in the out-of-continuity Marvel MAX series U.S. War Machine. With an Iron Man-sized hole now present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's possible that Parnell Jacobs could be introduced into the movie universe to give viewers their ammunition and armor fix.


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