Before I give Stryfe his time in the light, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself this time. My name is Jason Miller. I’m a 38 year old nerd that lives in Iowa. I have two children, Jade and James, and a loving fiance, Renee. I have been interested in creative writing since I could spell and have collected comic books most of my life. Though, back then, it was all horror or comedy. It wasn’t until my grandpa bought me issue #6 of the 1990’s Darkhawk title by Marvel Comics, that my true love affair with superhero comics began. And now, 25 years (And hundreds of thousands of dollars in comics) later, I have been given the opportunity to share my love of this era in comics history with all of you, through the Unspoken Decade, as an author. Who would have thought one comic book could make that much difference in one boy’s life?
Stryfe. Even the name invokes fear and dread. To fully understand this Marvel madman, you have to delve into his origins. After all, one is not named Stryfe without good reason.
Stryfe began his life basically as a back-up plan. I’ll explain. In the far-flung future the mutant tyrant, Apocalypse, held dominion over all. His will was absolute and none could oppose him. Or so it seemed. A small band of resistance fighters, led by the mysterious Askani, needed a savior. One who could put an end to all of this death. The answer finally came in the form of an infant named Nathan Summers. Nathan was the son of Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Jean “Phoenix” Grey. You could tell by his parents alone that this was to be a very powerful mutant child. The problem was, Apocalypse believed this as well. He struck quickly and decisively, infecting Nathan with a virus that would not only halt the boy’s growing mental powers, but eventually kill him. Desperate, Askani has the child cloned to perhaps salvage their last hope. She also goes to work on young Nathan, trying to if not cure him of the virus, maybe halt it’s progress. She succeeds in the latter, saving the to-be savior of mutantkind. As for the clone? He is kidnapped by the very monster he was created to destroy, Apocalypse. Lacking a name, Apocalypse names the child Stryfe. Stryfe, as can be expected, is treated as nothing more than a weapon as he is believed to be the original child. He was raised for the sole purpose of one day becoming the vessel in which Apocalypse would transfer his essence to further his total domination of the planet. Stryfe knew this. His soul was forever tainted by his situation. And in his inner rage, plotted the downfall of not only Apocalypse, but his “brother” and all that he stood for. Finally, as his own body was now failing, the day came when Apocalypse decided it was time. To Apocalypses dismay, the procedure failed as they discovered Stryfe was a clone. Afterwards, Apocalypse was attacked and killed by the true Nathan Summers (Now calling himself Cable) and Stryfe uses this distraction to go into hiding.
He would emerge later as a fierce warrior and egomaniacal madman himself. Striking out with his own army, he attacks Cable’s people and what is left of Apocalypse’s regime again and again. Though despising both armies, he centers the bulk of his rage upon Cable. It should be noted that no one knows that the leader of this faction is actually a clone of Cable save for Stryfe himself. Wearing spiked silvery armor, complete with masked helmet, his identity remained a secret. At one point, he uses this to his advantage by seeking out Cable’s wife, Aliya, and conceived a child with her, Tyler. Stryfe would later kidnap Tyler and brainwash him into being a loyal follower, renaming him Genesis.
Finally, seeking to alter the future, both Cable and Stryfe would end up time-traveling to the then present day. Stryfe would assemble another army, this time called the M.L.F (Mutant Liberation Front), and Cable would take over leadership duties of the New Mutants (Later called X-Force). The two would clash many times, one time revealing Stryfe’s true face to Cable under the helmet. More battles were fought, but one in particular would prove to be Stryfe’s “masterpiece”. The event was known as the X-Cutioner’s Song. Stryfe, dressed as Cable, entered a rally in support of mutant rights, and shot Professor Charles Xavier founder of the X-Men and face of the peaceful coexistence for mutants and humans. This caused all of the mutant teams at the time to clash leaving Stryfe ample time to strike again. This time, he struck at the past incarnations of his “parents” and Apocalypse himself! He was finally stopped by Cable. Cable thought, by killing Stryfe the conflict would be over. He couldn’t be more wrong. You see, by killing him, Stryfe had had the last laugh after all. A virus was released at the point of his death that would claim the lives of countless mutants for over a decade before being cured!
As with all comic book villains, Stryfe would not remain dead. He plagued the Marvel Universe many more times. But, he would never again be the threat he once was. In my opinion, had he only been treated like a real person at the beginning of his tragic life. Stryfe would never have been a threat in the first place. He might have even used his power and mind for the betterment of his world. But, sadly, this was never to be. He is and always will be Stryfe, in purpose and name.
Welcome to another fabulous edition of not just The Unspoken Decade, but that nifty blog crossover epic we call “Super Blog Team-Up!” This go-round we at SBTU have decided to utterly enthrall you with some of the most violent and spectacular clashes of all time, as we present VS!
Here where it’s always 1996, we bring you two of Marvel’s heaviest hitters when it comes to firepower. One is James Rhodes, better known as the operator of he most offensively-powerful armor this side of a Hulkbuster, War Machine! The other is the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, sent to a far future to cure his techno-virus, he has now returned to the present day as the telekinteic cyborg warrior known as Cable!
Personally, I have always wanted a Punisher/War Machine/Cable team-up. They could call it “big guns, bigger attitudes”. It writes itself! WHERE ARE YOU, MARVEL? GET THIS DONE.
The fight between Cable and War Machine takes place over the first few issues of War Machine’s first solo title. Written by Len Kaminski and Scott Benson, penciled by Gabriel Gecko, and inked by Pam Eklund, War Machine #1 hits our reality in April of 1994 (according to the copyright indicia) as an attempt to sort of stretch the parameters of the super hero game. The first issue has James Rhodes getting caught up in an international incident that ties the hands of most of the other heroes. It also sports a die-cut foil cover that is sort of hard to display on the internet.
War Machine’s armor is probably my favorite Iron Man armor ever. I mean, just look at it. Right there on that cover, you can see two guns on his wrist, a giant cannon on his shoulder, and what appears to be a missile battery on his other shoulder. Beautiful. Also, you just know that his chest circle fires SOMETHING AWESOME.
In real life, I tend to be a defense first guy (as a fan of the 2015 WORLD CHAMPION Kansas City Royals, how can ya blame me?). In my genre fiction, give me the guy who has little protection who comes out with every gun he has firing as he simply overpowers his enemy with a fierce barrage from his armada! That’s War Machine in a nutshell, although I am underselling the brilliant strategic mind of one James Rhodes as well.
The selling point of these early issues of War Machine is that James Rhodes isn’t gonna sit idly by as the technicalities of the world prevent him from taking the fight right to the bad guys. After he makes a connection with a famous international diplomat, Vincent Cetewayo, who is looking to start a corporation known as “WorldWatch” that would help deal with international crises before they develop, James is intrigued. He refuses Cetewayo’s offer at first, but after reading his book, James seems to be coming around on the idea. Of course, then said international diplomat is kidnapped by the regime he once fled, Imaya. Due to the fact that this African nation is full-fledged member of the United Nations, many heroes are paralyzed by international law as it prevents them from acting…
The angry phone call Rhodes is on doesn’t seem to get Fury on the line, as Rhodes quickly shows up at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ with harsh words for Nick Fury.
C’mon War Machine, how could you possibly figure that Fury wouldn’t know who you were and what you were up to? It’s his game!
It’s insanely hard not to side with War Machine here. It isn’t like Fury doesn’t go off half-cocked when he feels like it, the UN and S.H.I.E.L.D. be damned. Now that War Machine needs some help, though, Fury is acting like these rules are suddenly sacrosanct. That’s government bureaucrat types for ya, amirite? Also, ain’t it against international law to, y’ know, just kidnap a guy off a hijacked airline? Oh, UN, you’re so delightfully unwieldy.
After seeing that he’ll get no help from Fury in regard to this, War Machine says the line that seemingly has to be said in nearly every action flick and story:
War Machine plows into Imaya, taking out soldiers and warplanes left and right. He’s doing very well against these instruments of war, which might be ironic because he is a War Machine. Or is it just meta? I dunno, Alanis Morissette forever ruined all of our understandings of ironic. (Also, if you think that joke is too old, you’re the one reading a 90’s comics website, pal.)
While War Machine’s attack may make for impressive viewing, X-Force’s leader Cable doesn’t like it.
So it appears Cable has taken umbrage with War Machine going solo in a War Zone. Apparently, Cable is the only guy allowed to do what he wants with big guns, a gleam in his eye, and a devil-may-care attitude. When it isn’t him, Cable is super concerned with geopolitical events and how a solitary man with an advanced suit of armor trying to rescue a man destined to be tortured and killed could upset the entire balance of power in Africa!
Now, before we can get to laser fights, Cable and War Machine have to try and win the debate. I’ll spare you my opinion of who is right, but I’d love to know yours in the comment. (Here’s a hint as to whose side I am on; it’s War Machines’s.)
This exchange of philosophy does nothing to change the mind of either Cable or War Machine, and so we get Cable and War Machine throwing down! We also get Cable spouting a line that’d lead one to believe he was trying out for a Viagra commercial.
Cable draws first blood, knocking War Machine down and into some boulders. War Machine doesn’t take this lying down, however, and quickly takes over on offense. He separates Cable from his firearm, which leads to the most ineffective strategy Cable has ever employed against an opponent.
The back and forth is fairly evenly matched, but just when it appears that Round 2 is about to start, a new competitor enters the ring and it becomes a triple threat match!
That’s where War Machine #1 leaves off, and Page #1 of issue #2 may be my favorite page by Gecko in either issue. But first, the cover to War Machine #2!
Not only is this a great page artwise to me, I love the succinctness in getting all three of the players across. With just three panels, you know who everyone is, what their motivation is, and how they are feeling about the situation. One can even reasonably assume that Deathlok is housing two personalities based on what we see here, which he is.
What we really need, though, is a two-page splash showing us just how badass all these guys look together.
Basically, we get the same conversation that Cable and War Machine have been having, but now Deathlok is thrown in, and he is on War Machine’s side. This sits none too well with Cable, who decides to use that awesome gun of his (for real, I could talk for hours about Cable’s guns. Ask Emily.) to solve a problem. That problem’s name is Deathlok!
War Machine tries to play peacemaker, but all that does is rile Deathlok up in his direction.
War Machine finally uses his massive firepower to overcome the both of them, as he attempts to talk some sense into these guys. It’s sorta funny how all of a sudden after breaching international borders and shooting down Imayan warplanes in Imayan airspace that War Machine now fancies himself the voice of reason. Of course, seeing as he is the only 100% human guy here, maybe he’s the only one we can trust. One way or another, War Machine incapacitates them both, and then he gets to deliver a lecture because to the victor go the soliloquies.
For those of you placed your wager on “the three guys yap until Imayan ground forces show up,” head to the window and collect. You have to wonder what sort of resistance they could possibly put up to these three, seeing as how War Machine just single-handedly thrashed their entire goddamn air force. I do suppose that being in the military in a despotic dictatorship probably just has you going out in your tank even after a solitary armored figure has taken out all your air support. Your choice is get killed by War Machine or get killed by your superior in the ranks.
Cable, though, can teleport, so he has lots of choices, including the choice to allow Deathlok and War Machine to reap what they have sown without him around.
And that’s the end of the Cable vs. War Machine showdown. It’s a rather typical Marvel hero vs. hero fight, in that there is no clear winner, although it’s a little less like a typical Marvel hero fight because Cable and War Machine are at odds from the start and there is no misunderstanding between them before they pal up and head after the baddies! I suppose Deathlok is the one who handles that role with ol’ Rhodey here.
The rest of the early War Machine story arc is good. You get to see War Machine take on a nation’s entire armed forces as he teams with Imayan freedom fighters to liberate their country. Cable plays a small role by evacuating Cetewayo to the camp of said freedom fighters. If he had just done that to start, there’d have been no fight! But then again, I wouldn’t have this article, either. Hmmm.
For real, though, scope out the rest of this early War Machine arc if for no other reason than to just see this image explained:
Now that you have had a nice fight here, maybe you should go take a gander at the other folks playing along with Super Blog Team Up! Check out the links below: