The Iron Man universe is currently missing its creator Tony Stark, though the reasons why are still unknown. In the meantime, Brian Michael Bendis has already started to fill that void with two new takes on the franchise, and RiRi Williams has taken the crown with ease thus far.
Minor spoilers from here on out, so you've been warned.
It's easy to see why Stark took to RiRi. Aside from her super genius status, she abhors to let a problem defeat her and can easily lose herself in trying to find a solution, to the detriment of her friendships and family ties. Sound familiar?
Those traits are rather endearing in the right mix, but the real strength in issue #1 is how much attention Bendis pays to RiRi's supporting cast. Her mother, stepdad, and best friend Natalie are all critical to RiRi's growth as a person, and ultimately in becoming the hero she aspires to be. The book bounces back and forth from the present to five years in the past, and while flashbacks aren't exactly inventive territory, Bendis maximizes the format and successfully delivers a hard-hitting turning point for RiRi that will hopefully be explored more in future issues.
It's a modern coming of age story, and Bendis navigates this character with ease. She's sarcastic, funny, curious, and at times distant and a bit inside her own head. It's a unique mixture that makes her one of the brighter spots on the Marvel roster, even at this stage of her career. It was refreshing to see a young woman of color in this role and never once does she feel like a stereotype or a caricature.
This is only further reinforced by the spectacular pencils of Stefano Casselli. He brings a groundedness to RiRi's world, which is no easy task when she happens to be battling an army of fantastical creatures in a big silver suit of armor. RiRi's expressions and mannerisms do all the talking without uttering a single word, and Casselli's control of this allows the high moments to soar and the emotional moments to hit even harder.
Invincible Iron Man #1 is a success, but not simply because RiRi changes up the status quo. She's a fantastic addition to the Marvel Universe regardless of skin color, but hopefully, the team won't shy away from tackling relevant issues in future storylines.
The outlook is an optimistic one, and whether you've loved Iron Man for years or just recently discovered the character, you should welcome RiRi Williams with open arms.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Written By: Brian Michael Bendis
Art By: Stefano Caselli
Colored By: Marte Gracia
Lettered By: VC's Clayton Cowles