Minor Spoilers Inside
I wanted to like Iron Patriot #1, I really did. The fundamentals are there: A gradually coming-together supporting cast, a human quality at the center of the writing, etc. Something is amiss though. The characters, the story, and even the art feel very human, but the product itself has no humanistic quality. I don’t mean the actual physical product. Rather I should say the product of the story (or lack thereof in this case) is very static and emotionless. What comes is not actual empathy but a narrative forcing you to empathize with James Rhodes, or at least the narrative situation that Rhodes is in; you want to feel something but it’s telling you to empathize with it, as opposed to making the reader genuinely feel anything. It’s almost paradoxical in nature.
Iron Patriot #1 seems to be about James Rhodes, and his family, and a larger conspiracy at hand involving the government and a Congressman type potentially leading it. It incorporates Kot’s political views very well (as should be expected of a book with Patriot in the title), or at least the ones he’s shown the comics audience so far. The first actual page (not the cast page) and the last page establish that Rhodes is always dying or on the verge of death, and that he has a mysterious savior bringing him back to life. There’s all the setup for an intriguing story here but the execution is so middling. Is the comic meant to be an examination of what a patriot truly is, a political conspiracy thriller, or the ethical and moral dilemmas of a man split between his job and his family? Iron Patriot #1 feels like it wants to be three different things at once without giving each section even spacing and proper time to develop.
Still, let it be said that with early wrath comes eventual praise. Kot uses his trademark Kot-isms with a remarkably greater degree of subtlety here and actually might know what he’s doing, as evidenced by the last six pages being a strong shift in story advancement, and Garry Brown’s art captures authentic real-world grit and puts a Marvel-spin on it to keep it from being too grim. The inking seems to be the weakest part of the art, as it renders some faces squished and incomprehensible. Brown manages to keep everything aesthetically clean though, and compliments the writing tremendously.
As far as first issues go and the necessary requirements needed to make a first issue work, Iron Patriot #1 is pretty good. In terms of where it wants to go, and what it wants to be, it is split in three very uneven sections and sets up too little, too late. As unfortunate as it is to say, I would not recommend Iron Patriot to a reader looking to get into the character, but who knows, maybe it’ll read better in trade?
My Score: 2/5