Force Works 2020 #3 is a fun, if not slightly vacuous, ending to Matthew Rosenberg’s first story arc. It is a fine thematic addition to the ongoing Arno Stark A.I. event happening across all Iron Man related titles.
My first exposure to Force Works was in the 1994 Iron Man cartoon. In the comics at that time, Iron Man had broken away from the main Avengers team to form a more proactive group. In the cartoon, the members were the Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), the alien Century, War Machine, and Hawkeye, while in the comics, U.S. Agent was utilized instead of Hawkeye, War Machine’s interaction with the group seems to have been confined to his interactions with Iron Man, and Wonder Man was a founding member, killed on their first mission (Don’t worry! He got better! Then didn’t. Then did again!). There have been other iterations of Force Works, but I was intrigued to read this new iteration written by Rosenberg.
This issue’s cast of War Machine, Mockingbird, Quake, and U.S. Agent provides a chance for these secondary characters to shine and not be used as fodder for meaningless comic book deaths.
This issue was light, low stakes superhero writing at its finest. There is a certain silliness to the entire thing, like when M.O.D.O.K. combines with Ultimo to form ULTIMO.D.O.K. Thankfully, moments like this are undercut with a self-aware quippiness, with Bobbi Morse responding, “That name isn’t as clever as you think it is.” This self-awareness works in the comic’s favor, although at times, it runs the risk of making all of the characters sound the same, merely becoming self-aware quip machines.
There are some good character moments that offset this risk, though. U.S. Agent, in particular has a moment to shine toward the end. John Walker is known as a character who follows orders, sometimes to a fault. However, this issue gives him a moment to shine that shows that underneath that patriotic exterior, he has a heart and is capable of growth.
Artist Juanan Ramírez and colorists Federico Blee and Guru-eFX have created a very good looking comic, which despite the low stakes feeling plot, looks beautiful and bombastic. The linework and coloring is exceptional! Letterer V.C.’s Travis Lanham also does a good job capturing the voices of each character on the page, differentiating between voices of the human characters, robotic voices of the Deathloks, and even Rhodey’s voice when he’s in his armor. I might’ve also added a similar differentiating effect to M.O.D.O.K.’s voice as well, but perhaps I’m just nitpicking at this point.
Overall, Rosenberg and company have put together a fine-enough issue, and of course, this is only the first arc, establishing the characters and their interactions with each other. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to resuscitate this often-forgotten title in Marvel’s history.
Did you read Force Works 2020 #3? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below.