Now here’s a comic that’s been surrounded in controversy since the moment it was announced. A brand new character, Riri Williams, AKA Ironheart, is taking over as lead for the main Iron Man series. Before you complain that the change is simply to incite sales or to force a new character down our throats, let’s actually give this comic a fair shake. Is it good?
Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
Iron Man is missing due to the events of Civil War II, which have yet to be revealed. In the meantime, someone is stepping up to fill in the Iron Hero role until he comes back. It’s the newest character on the block, Riri Williams. Let’s see how she does and get a look at her backstory as well.
The Initial Impression
I wasn’t one of those people ranting about Tony Stark being replaced as the lead character (though I found it amusing that Marvel made a big push for Tony back in 2015 to make him the center star, perhaps due to the overwhelming popularity of the movies, and now here we are) when this was first announced. I was just skeptical of the fact that Riri was just introduced and her creator, Brian Michael Bendis, didn’t do anything with her or even build her up until and even after the title’s announcement. We have had popular characters who have taken over certain hero roles that got far less build up than Riri in the past, like with the case of Robbie Reyes and Kamala Khan, but this one felt off for some reason with all the excessive hype.
Invincible Iron Man #1 is a collection of tropes and plot pieces that can be found in a lot of origin stories or first issues for new superhero series. You get the flashback sequences showing the main character is special in some way; you get the hero fighting a one-note villain and showing off her skills; we get some downtime and what their life is like; there’s the tragedy and or fridging of a family member/loved one to give them motivation to be a hero, and so on and so forth. It’s a constructed plot that we’ve seen many times before, but this one felt lacking in its execution and didn’t get the story going on the right foot.
Story-wise, there’s not much to the issue ultimately. Riri fights villain, we get flashbacks, and there’s a surprise at the end that Marvel spoiled ahead of time. The villain Riri takes on isn’t particularly memorable outside of her ranting about “the system” and her outlandish costume, which just doesn’t look comfortable. The flashbacks paint Riri as an outsider, someone who has difficulty connecting to the rest of the world due to how smart she is; unfortunately, the book never shows us much of that, but just tells us, so it’s not as believable as it could be. There’s also some great tragedies in Riri’s life, but they lack impact and emotional weight, since they happen to characters that are introduced in the same issue and don’t have much character build-up. Bendis presents some ideas that can work, but the execution stumbles a bit more than it should.
Since the story likes jumping back and forth between the present and past, usually in a very abrupt way to transition to a flashback, it probably would have been a lot stronger to forgo the fight with the villain and focus more on backstory, except for the ending scene. The pacing is very fast, constantly keeping the comic on the move and not allowing for scenes or for characters to have much time to develop as they probably should. The dialogue can be awkward, sounding very unnatural and stilted (the opening bit is particularly bad), but admittedly endearing and charming, like when Riri makes a friend. Then there’s the characterization, which is only for our lead; despite Riri’s rushed backstory here, she’s not bad. She’s likeable enough, clearly trying her best to be a hero and using some smarts to defeat the villain. However, she still needs time to make her mark and stand out. She has potential, but there needs to be a lot of time spent on developing her character and her history instead of speeding through things.
Buy Legos! Lots of Legos to expand her creativity.
The artwork for the comic is provided by Stefano Caselli, a regular of Marvel. His work on the book is the standout part of the issue and he provides some very nice pages and images. The characters are all drawn well and convey plenty of feelings in their faces and body language. The layouts flow fairly well, the action is appealing when it’s there, and there’s some nice level of detail in the comic. The colors by Marte Garcia are rather beautiful as well, very appealing and vibrant, providing a lot of energy to the action sequence in the story. Outside of the main character not looking her age at points and a weird perspective shot in a panel, the art looked great overall and hopefully, Caselli sticks around beyond the initial story arc.
Is It Good?
Invincible Iron Man #1 is a very typical first issue to a superhero series. While the artwork is great and the main character isn’t bad, there are a lot of elements that under developed, even for a first issue. Overall, this is not as bad as people were thinking it was going to be, but still has yet to find its footing.