With every issue of Civil War II now on stands, we finally know what happened to Iron Man. But if you’ve been wondering what happened to Tony Stark’s company, then Invincible Iron Man #3 from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli is the comic for you!
Invincible Iron Man #3 (Marvel Comics)
While fans probably don’t read Marvel Comics to follow the adventures of corporate executives, it’s actually nice to see Bendis revisit the internal struggles within Stark Industries (I think that’s the company’s current name – it seems to change with every relaunch). Why, you ask? Because that’s the only place we can see characters from the previous volume of Invincible Iron Man and International Iron Man, specifically Mary Jane Watson, the AI Friday and Tony’s newly discovered biological mother, Amanda Armstrong.
Often, when it’s announced a new character like Riri Williams will be taking over another hero’s book, there’s a fear that the hero’s supporting cast will go bye-bye. Fortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Heck, Bendis has even brought Tony back in AI form!
Something I notice, though, is that while a book like Invincible Iron Man is designed to keep the Iron Man saga fresh, I can’t help but feel this formula is growing a bit stale. Bendis himself has already done this with Ultimate Spider-Man – taking the original off the field, replacing him with a rookie and keeping the former hero’s supporting cast around to show the newbie the ropes. The same could even be said about his New Avengers concept. I liked both of those books and I’m enjoying this current Invincible Iron Man run – I just felt it’s a comics trend that may need to be shelved for a bit.
Anyway, despite devoting a large chunk of this issue to the last volume’s supporting cast, this is still Riri’s book, so we continue to see how she’s adjusting to life as a superhero. Bendis must have really loved Iron Man 3, because what we have now is a similar dynamic – know-it-all AI Tony paired with a much younger protege. For some reason, a lot of people disliked Shane Black’s entry into the Iron Man film series, but I enjoyed it. And, I’m also having fun reading the back-and-forth between Riri and Tony’s AI. Not every character in the Marvel Universe can call out Tony for his arrogance and BS, but Riri has no problem doing so.
I also enjoyed that Tony had a frustrating exchange with Riri over choosing a superhero name. Tony assumes Riri would be “Iron Girl,” Riri doesn’t like sexual identity as a qualifier and suddenly the two are having a conversation that I seem to have every time I speak to someone at least 10 years younger than me.Despite Riri’s bravado, Tony managers to find a chink in her armor – that she really hasn’t moved on from her best friend’s death. As I said in my review of Invincible Iron Man #2, Bendis is using the Iron Man brand to explore some interesting real-world topics. For that reason, this remains one of the better Bendis books currently on the stands.
Of course, this series will continue to remain strong so long as Caselli remains as its artist. The penciller’s line work has really matured since his earlier assignments, transforming from cartoony to much more detailed and realistic. Some of his faces even remind me a bit of fellow Bendis-collaborator Sara Pichelli.
The rookie-replacing-the-veteran-hero angle is something we’ve seen quite a lot of in the past few years. With that said, by injecting Riri into Tony’s life, Bendis and Caselli have truly managed to make Iron Man fresh again. It also doesn’t hurt that in just three issues, Riri comes across as more fully formed than some comic characters who’ve been around for decades.