I've been anticipating the release of this new Invincible Iron Man run since it was first announced that they were "retiring" Tony Stark's character for a while post-Civil War II and introducing a new character to carry the mantle of Iron Man. Only this time it's not a man, but a 15 year old black girl named Riri Williams. She has super genius level intellect and uses it to create a rudimentary armored suit before being contacted by the man himself. I'm getting ahead of myself though...let's start at the very beginning.
The issue begins 10 years in the past during a flashback sequence taking place in a Chicago elementary school. It's assumed Riri Williams goes to this school and the man her mom and stepdad are talking to is her Principal. Apparently Riri has been exhibiting behavioral problems and her Principal believes these problems to be the result of the fact that Riri is simply bored by her environment. She's more advanced than everyone around her, even many adults you'd think...but definitely the kids. The man tells her parents that despite Riri being 5 years old (again a 10-year flashback), she shows signs of super genius intellect. He says he has the ability to keep her intellectually-occupied and he seems to have experience working with super people in the past. He finishes by saying that they have to make sure she's getting what she needs from them. You know, proper and nourishing parental guidance and love. He says that in so many words essentially. The Principal (or whoever he is because he's not really identified) says that the most important thing for Riri is to not become so smart that she becomes disillusioned with society. A frustration that could cause her to use her super genius in the wrong way.
One of the interesting things about Riri Williams is that she is driven into donning an armored powersuit due to the events that transpire in her life that happens towards the end of this issue, but once again...I'm ahead of myself. We have to first start in Cheyenne, Wyoming where Riri appears like a beacon of hope descending from the sky in her rugged, unpolished and technologically-weak homemade powersuit. She's there to protect the citizens of the town from an attack they are under by monsters. Monsters of all types that materialize from the DNA of a minor villain named Animax. Apparently, she was captured by another group of heroes in an entirely different comic series and I guess the writers decided to bring her back in this issue to give Riri a tough, yet beatable opponent in this inaugural issue. While Riri seems outmatched and outnumbered, she's able to hold her own causing Animax to get very frustrated. So she calls forward the largest monster yet to rid herself of Riri's presence on the battlefield.
Like with a lot of comics, there's a lot of jumping back and forth in this issue between different events and times. So before the battle in Wyoming is resolved, we now return to another flashback...this time 5 years in the past when Riri was 10 years old. Even at this age, one can see how advanced Riri is as she'd rather spend time building devices in her parent's garage than outside playing. Her mother gets mad at her and asks her if she's eaten yet and Riri doesn't even know if it's time for breakfast or lunch lol. Her mom gives her 5 more minutes then demands that afterward, she go out and play instead of working. Suddenly another kid appears and asks Riri what she's making and introduces herself as Natalie. Riri tells Natalie that she's building a contraption that could relay a signal to different devices around the city to do chores if a superhero like Spiderman were ever to be captured. They immediately develop a bond and become close friends and remain that way until a tragic event happens a few years later. Before that though, back to the fight in Cheyenne, Wyoming in the present day.
Riri continues to hold her own against Animax and her monstrous mutations that still outnumber her. Only now the computer system she's using (which takes forever to relay information about who's she's fighting on the battlefield) informs her that Animax is in fact a mutant...which explains the random materializing of creatures.
Then just like that, we're thrown out of the present-day battle again for the final flashback of the issue. We see Riri laughing with Natalie at a park where there appears to be some sort of bbq picnic or event going on somewhere in Chicago.
Riri is now 13 years old and this is before she officially dons the powersuit we see her in while she's fighting in Cheyenne. Riri and Natalie are joking around about Riri's stepdad, when suddenly gunshots ring out and crackle throughout the air. Her stepdad jumps in the path of the shots and throws the two girls to safety. This incredible act of bravery saves Riri, but her friend Natalie didn't fare as well. I don't think it was an accident that this takes place in Chicago where gun violence and the unnecessary loss of life is a major topic of discussion within the Black community. It's never said exactly who it was that carried out or ordered the shooting. Maybe that'll be revealed in future issues. As of right now, it's not terribly important though, two lives have been lost and Riri's life will never be the same again. This is what I was alluding to above. A tragic turn of events in her life that I believe directly caused her to become a super-heroine.
Before I close out this review for Issue #1, I'll just cut to the chase and say that of course Riri handles herself just fine in Wyoming. She figures out how the previous superhero group defeated Animax and it was of course by knocking the mutant villain unconscious. This causes the aggressive monsters to all disappear into a cloud of smoke at once and Animax is taken into custody. Back at home, Riri is in the garage once again...only this time upgrading her makeshift powersuit. We find out that her mother is aware that she goes out and does her superhero thing because she asks her how it went. All of a sudden though, some MIB-looking agent shows up out of no where and hands Riri a mysterious package. Her mother thinks it's a bomb of some sort, which is funny because that would be some people's reaction if their child fought comicbook villains or watched too many movies.
It turn out that it was sent from Tony Stark and contains his essence left behind in digital form just in case anything ever happened to his body. He tells Riri he will help her build a better suit and says that it's time to get to work!
So there you have it! Check back at Black and Intellectual for more review updates for this new series.
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