Review by Ian Keogh
Riri Williams was diagnosed early as a genius, and by her mid-teens she’d progressed to the stage of being able to develop an armoured suit capable of taking down a mutant criminal. What she lacked was the funds to integrate a superior form of artificial intelligence into her suit. That’s when she’s delivered Tony Stark’s personality downloaded into an artificial intelligence construct. A considerable number of questions arise, and not all are answered, but the ones that matter are.
Riri, her friend Natalie, her mother, Pepper Potts, Mary Jane Watson, Amanda Armstrong, Sharon Carter, the villains of the piece… Beyond Stark’s artificial personality, Brian Michael Bendis ensures almost the entire cast are women, which is an interesting reversal of the usual balance in a superhero comic. It compensates to some extent for much that is ordinary. Riri herself is too similar in background and capability to Moon Girl, although Iron Man is an obviously higher profile vehicle for a technologically gifted genius. Then there’s her motivation for designing an armoured suit. It might have been novel in the 1980s, but the hero motivated by personal tragedy has been around for so long now, again with extremely high profile examples, and Bendis is button pushing when he’s capable of something more imaginative. He does show Riri as adaptable and able to come up with inventive solutions to pressing situations, and the way her relationships with others are defined has a poignancy. As in his other Iron Man series, Amanda Armstong, a sort of update on May Parker, is given some classic dialogue.
Strangely, artist Stefano Caselli is more at home with the real life sequences than with the Iron Man action. His scenes of Riri and her friend Natlie have a lovely, natural sense of life to them, whereas his loose and blocky Iron Men don’t have a lot to recommend them, even given that Riri’s opening suit is intended to prioritise function over design.
As an opening story arc this does what intended by establishing Riri and her world coherently, but not yet compellingly. Perhaps that will happen in Choices.