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Invincible Iron Man #1

Review by Paul Bowler

An exciting new era begins in Marvel Now’s Invincible Iron Man #1 as Riri Williams steps up to become the worlds newest armored superhero! Kitted out in her homemade Iron Man armor, former M.I.T student Riri is ready to rise to the challenges of the Marvel Universe, but the young genius has some pretty big armored boots to fill – especially now that a certain billionaire mega-genius isn’t exactly around much these days…

Yes, there’s a new armored hero on the block in Invincible Iron Man #1, and her name is Riri Williams! Marvel Now continues apace in the wake of Marvel’s Civil War II as Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, and Marte Gracia bring us the adventures of Riri Williams, Marvel’s new hero from Chicago, Ironheart!

Having a new character stepping into the role once held by a long-standing character is nothing new in comics. Invincible Iron Man #1 marks the beginning of a new era with Riri Williams taking centre stage after writer Brian Michael Bendis had already firmly established her character in the previous volume of Invincible Iron Man. It is this cleverly constructed groundwork that has made Riri‘s, as well as Victor‘s, gradual integration into Tony Stark’s life, seem all the more believable, and not just another change for change’s sake scenario as the Iron-Mantles are effectively passed to Riri Williams and Doctor Doom respectively.

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From the opening video-blogger style credit page opening, Brian Michael Bendis gives us an insightful and moving glimpse into the life and times of Riri Williams. The battle with the rogue monster-spawning mutant Animax fills the prerequisite action quota for Invincible Iron Man #1, with our rookie super genius Iron-heroine quickly realizing the limitations of her cobbled together armor, sans a properly efficient AI, but it is the fascinating glimpse into Riri’s formative years that really forms the backbone of the issue.

Bendis skilfully intercuts the present-day events with some especially moving flashbacks to drive the narrative, highlighting some of the stark parallels and difficulties associated with being a super genius, while the more powerful themes and their heartbreaking aftermath resonates strongly on every level. Even though we’ve known Riri Williams for a while now, this issue really expands our knowledge of the character in ways that few could’ve predicted, and it makes Riri’s debut here feel all the more impressive as she sets out to make her presence felt in the Marvel Universe!

Stefano Caselli’s artwork conveys the finer nuances of Bendis’ script beautifully. Page layouts are keenly structured to match the emotional beats of the story and the characters are all defined in the highest detail. The scene between the young Riri and her new friend Natalie are wonderfully staged. There’s tragedy and heartbreak for Riri too, and Caselli’s art makes you feel like you are there with Riri every step of the way as her life unfolds before you. The fight with Animax is also good, but it is what transpires directly afterwards that probably resonates the most – with its gun crushing finality grittily polarizing the impact of the flashbacks in our minds eye. Color artist Marte Gracia employs bright, vibrant palette of colors throughout, nicely complementing Stefano Caselli’s artwork with a blend of rich shades and tones to bring added highlights to virtually every scene.

The issue rounds off with a great scene between Riri and her mother that effectively brings Riri’s story full circle. As for Tony Stark..? Well, he might not be around anymore, but you know Tony, he has a knack of thinking of contingencies for everything!

I must admit, as much as I love the character of Riri Williams, I was a little sceptical about her taking over as the lead character in Invincible Iron Man. I’m pleased to say that Brian Michael Bendis has won me over once again with his superb storytelling and characterization skills. One thing that shines through is the sheer hope and optimism Riri Williams brings to the title, which considering the events in those flashbacks, shows just what strong and delightfully positive character traits Riri Williams will bring to the Marvel Universe.

Invincible Iron Man #1 revamps the status quo and provides a confident start to Riri’s brand new adventures. Even though I’m sure Tony Stark will return as Iron Man eventually, we can rest assured that the legacy of Iron Man is in safe hands, so here’s hoping that Riri Williams will be around for a long time to come.

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Art: Stefano Caselli

Color Artist Marte Gracia / VC’s Clayton Cowles Letterer

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