Posted by James Valentine @JValentine
Bringing you all the good Graphic Novel news, because I'm nice like that. "Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!" - "He was a zombie?"
James Valentine

(WARNING: Tread carefully, spoilers ahead!)

Despite discovering and meeting his biological mother poor, Tony Stark has been having a pretty rough few months: Leading one half of the #superheroes in a second #CivilWar, the collapse of Stark industries and losing the #IronMan title to the former supervillain, Victor Von Doom (Infamous Iron Man). Worse yet, #Marvel is keeping Stark's ultimate fate intentionally ambiguous, however, the hints and clues do not bode well.

In all of this Stark-related turmoil, it's a good thing that newcomer Riri Williams has stepped up to both continue Stark's legacy and craft her own as a familiarly red and yellow clad — but ultimately new armored hero — #IronHeart. After several teasingly brief appearances over the past few months, writer/creator Brian Michael Bendis finally reveals Riri's origins in Invincible Iron Man issue 1, as the junior hero deals with one of her first supervillain encounters.

What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Riri Williams, Child Super Genius

Riri Williams
Riri Williams

One of the earliest reveals in the issue is that Riri has been a super genius since childhood, further explaining how Riri was able to craft her own power armor at age 15 and in the process crushing whatever dreams you had of building your own personal power armor. Though it was a given that Riri has some degree of genius (being an MIT student at 15), confirming her as a super genius make it even more impactful.

Riri's otherwise stunned parents are warned of the difficulty that comes with raising a junior genius and are advised to constantly fill their daughter's heart and soul with positive vibes, due to a super genius's tendency to get lost in her own mind, causing her to potentially become emotionally detached and distant (sound familiar?).

Riri's Parents are warned of the difficulties that come with raising a super genius
Riri's Parents are warned of the difficulties that come with raising a super genius

It's an interesting allusion to Stark and the "super genius" character trope in general. Riri, in comparison, has so far been portrayed as a bubbly teenager, beaming with optimism. A far cry from her routinely troubled mentor Tony Stark, albeit, now it all makes sense, (almost).

Tragedy Strikes Riri At The Heart

Fast forward to the near present and Riri is living a fairly normal life with her family and childhood best friend Natalie. Things quickly fall apart however as a random drive-by shooting takes the life of her step-father and Natalie, the former of which tried to shield Riri and Natalie from the hail of bullets. I admit that having a random drive-by shooting in Chicago seems like a somewhat heavy handed, disconnected means of a tragic twist.

However, it does successfully add several more layers to Riri's character serving almost as an antithesis. Despite her personal losses, Riri is still very much an optimist and is still able to see all the good in the world. It seems that the more Bendis reveals about Riri's character, the more appropriate the chosen moniker, IronHeart, feels.

Riri in her first active armor model
Riri in her first active armor model

Take your Batmans, your Spider-Mans and pretty much any other hero who has death as a part of their origin and you'll find that it presents an easy opportunity to have the character act dark, brooding and moody for a few chapters (or for forever in Batman's case). While Riri's tragic origins will of course still form an important aspect of the character's identity, it's refreshing to see a superhero that has only become stronger from the tragedies of her past.

Riri Holds Her Own Against The Supervillain, Animax

Nothing says "It’s my first day" better than fighting a conveniently D-list level super villain. Animax is a D-list villain mutant who has the ability to create monsters from her own DNA. Unfortunately, Animax has had little luck with her career, having been bested by both the #XMen and the newly formed teenage super team, Champions. Now, with Riri's power armor seemingly ready for full-time super-heroics, it's Riri's turn to prove to the world that she has what it takes.

Animax blindsided by Riri
Animax blindsided by Riri

Riri eventually gets the upper hand and manages to knock Animax down for the count. Although it was not Riri's first superhero excursion, it ended largely the same way as before — with law enforcement trying to apprehend Riri. The first time, Riri was able to escape before any serious alterations. This time, however, an officer opens fire, so Riri retaliates by destroying the officer’s firearm.

It seems that law enforcement in Marvel isn't going to give Riri a break anytime soon, not at least until she upgrades into the more recognizable red and yellow-themed armor. Speaking of which, it might be something that Riri will need a little help to do.

A Helping Hand From A Byte-Sized Tony Stark

Tony Stark's "essence"
Tony Stark's "essence"

What's a fancy power suit without a sassy, sophisticated A.I. to do most of the work? Invincible Iron Man issue 1 ends with Riri receiving the last missing piece to her arsenal, an A.I. in the form of Tony Stark's digitized "essence." The A.I. Tony Stark alluded from Marvel's first announcement of the character Riri Williams, and while this certainly doesn't point to good prospects for the fate of Digi-Stark's fleshy counterpart, it does give us a good idea of where the series will go from here and how Riri will eventually don the most stereotypical Iron armor.

The first issue of Invincible Iron Man certainly gives us a lot of food for thought in regards to Riri's character. Regardless of the direction the series will take, I look forward to seeing the dynamic between Riri and Digi-Stark in upcoming issues.

Want more Iron-Man themed content? Check out some of the biggest WTF moments from the comics below:

What did you think of the first Issue of Riri's big adventure? Let us know in the comments below!