At the conclusion of Civil War II, Tony Stark entered a coma-state, leaving the mantle of Iron Man vacant. Tony had, however, made prior arrangements in case such an event ever arose. He created an artificial intelligence version of himself and gifted said A.I. to Riri Williams, a teenage prodigy who already built her own suit of armor to fight crime. Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol. 1: Riri Williams collects the first five issues of the series, written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Stefano Caselli, and colored by Marte Gracia. Does this volume do a good job establishing the characters’ relationship and setting up Riri as a worthy successor?
Riri stands out as the true star of this volume, as she should. The first couple issues provide poignant insight into her past, including traumas that shape who she is now. The consistency in Riri’s voice throughout is great; Bendis does a great job establishing who she is for readers who may not have read any of the issues she previously appeared in.
The supporting cast is also likable for the most part. Stark is his usual smartass self, but seeing him in a mentor role is a nice change of pace. His exchanges with Riri are frequently humorous, and my favorite portion of this volume is probably a scene in which he comes up with questionable ideas for her superhero name. I also like Riri’s mother; her struggles with Riri’s statuses as both a crimefighter and a genius feel believable and are easy to empathize with.
Art-wise, I was impressed with most of this volume. Caselli does a great job rendering emotive characters. Riri’s armor also looks good throughout, whether its her bulky gray model or the red and yellow she dons as Ironheart. Gracia’s colors are also good, and change effectively throughout to match changes in tone.
With all that said, I still have some qualms with this volume. The villains Riri faces off against are all pretty lame. It makes sense that she’s not taking on Doctor Doom from the get-go, but I still wish we got to see someone cooler than Animax. I’m also not particularly fond of Pepper Potts thus far. She’s not downright unlikable, but she doesn’t feel particularly dynamic as of yet. There are also moments where the line-work’s level of detail is notably lower than in other spots. It’s never bad per se, but it’s still noticeable.
Overall, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1: Riri Williams does a good job introducing Tony’s successor. The characters’ voices are consistent and likable, and much of the artwork is pleasing to look at. Unfortunately, the villains are forgettable and there’s some inconsistency to the line-work. Nonetheless, I like this volume and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Riri.