Warning: Contains spoilers for Iron Man #22!
Marvel’s Iron Man has always had a huge ego, but now that ego is actively controlling and influencing the War Machine, and now Tony’s best friend is in danger. Tony Stark and James Rhodes are famous friends and associates; their history goes back many decades (years in the days of comics), and both have saved each other’s lives many times. But Iron Man #22 reveals that Tony is using his friend to his advantage, as the armored War Machine pilot is now lying to cover up Stark’s most sinister crimes.
In the current comics, Iron Man returns to his roots as an arms dealer — with a twist. Instead of producing weapons, he seeks to buy them directly from the mysterious Source company. Exotic and truly dangerous weapons are sold through Source, including machines capable of destroying buildings, weapons capable of tearing time apart, and even Ten Mandarin Rings. Unfortunately, for this to work, it has to be a covert operation, and Iron Man can’t tell anyone about it, not even members of the Avengers.
In Iron Man #22, written by Christopher Cantwell with art by Angel Unzueta, the battle between Iron Man and Titanium Man leaves Tony bedridden but recovering from a near-fatal dose of Compound 13. Captain America visits Tony Stark in the hospital. and offers the Warrior a place in the Avengers to play the role of Iron Man until he recovers. When Rhodes refuses, Captain America immediately becomes suspicious. “Jim… is there anything else you want to tell me about?” Rhodes simply replies, “No. No, I’m fine,” and Captain America leaves the hospital room without another word.
Captain America is widely considered the most morally stable hero in the Marvel universe, and heroes often trust him, asking for advice. Rhodes not only fails to do this, but also lies to Steve Rogers— he clearly wants to inform him of Tony’s plan to impersonate a gun buyer in order to get his hands on the Source’s weapon (and eventually get his hands on the Ten Rings that Stark knows the Source about). hiding). Obviously, the time spent with Tony Stark has affected Rhodes’ moral compass, and the hero’s facial expression shows that he doubts his behavior, but still agrees with him.
Tony himself suggested hiding this information from the Avengers—but that’s not necessarily a wise choice. If Tony had just told his teammates about his plan, they would in all likelihood have helped him (or at least tried to talk him out of it). Now the Avengers will almost certainly see Iron Man regressing to his former self-dealing weapon, and the War Machine has unfortunately been caught in the crossfire.