The Riri/Stark A.I. relationship is one of the more interesting ones to come along in awhile.
Ironheart has been a contentious character ever since her creation and you’d only have to check comic book message boards to get an idea of that. That said, I’ve enjoyed this character and her unique dynamics that have made the Iron Man character more interesting. She’s super smart without the ego. How can you have an Iron Man book without ego? Well, the A.I. of Tony Stark covers that!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Riri Williams has new armor technology that just might change the face of the Marvel Universe forever… if she survives the experience. The biggest story in comics starts to unfold right here.
Can I jump in easily?
Relatively so. There are flashbacks here that help flesh out Riri and the volume opens with her taking on a new role among Tony Stark’s friends and family. Riri’s relationship with A.I. Tony has an arc to it which can be consumed just by reading this.
Reason 1: Riri learns from, but pushes back on the A.I.
Test, your might.
It’s easy to forget Riri is just a kid. Hell, she becomes Queen of a nation in this volume, but her kind, do-gooder heart is always intact. This of course isn’t the best point of view in the heat of battle and the Stark A.I. tries to keep her aware of her surroundings and being a superhero. He of course has been through a lot and has much to teach her. She’s also super smart so it makes sense she can push back on the Stark A.I. and even surprise it.
Reason 2: Seeds of doubt make the Tony Stark A.I. even more interesting
In a key scene, Tony Stark’s A.I. Friday and the Stark A.I. have a little conversation. This convo shifts when Mary Jane shows up, who is a bit concerned two computer intelligences were arguing. Is this the end of mankind as we know it? Friday makes some interesting points about the Stark A.I. and how it’s concerning it thinks like a person but isn’t constrained by a human body. It may quip and be all about helping Riri, but we probably shouldn’t trust it.
Reason 3: The banter is natural.
If you’ve read a Brian Michael Bendis comic you know the man loves to write dialogue and banter. The banter between Riri and the Tony Stark A.I. is great partly because Riri gets in over her head a lot, but also because she’s not afraid to question the super intelligence of the Stark A.I. For all intents and purposes Bendis writes this A.I. like it is Tony in every way, which means we get some flippant attitude, frustration, and personality elements that allow Riri to riff in natural ways.
A lot of captions to reveal Riri’s routine.
Reasons to be wary?
The Latveria story has the right level of importance to give this story some meaning, but it also seems very apart from the regular shenanigans of the universe and the character herself. It throws Riri into the deep end of the pool when an international story is probably unnecessary. She’s still getting her feet wet and the idea is good, but it seems to be so far removed from familiar characters and the characters own journey that it’s a bit much.
Is there a rational to the reasons?
This is a solid collection that allows Riri to come into her own as a hero, but also develop a relationship with the Stark A.I. that may not be as reliable as we thought. It’s also a good place to jump on for Bendis’ final story arc that will reveal where Tony Stark is located.