Riri Williams is back and ready to get training! After a fatal shootout killed her best friend and step-father, Riri is left distraught and traumatized. However, this doesn’t stop her from allowing Tony Stark himself (or his conscience, rather) train her to become a hero. Once she wins, civilians take and post videos of the debacle. It goes viral, and BOOM, Riri Williams is now at the top of someone’s hit list.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis writes this issue with a cinematic feel to it, as he transitions back and forth between Riri at the hospital with her mother and Riri training with Tony Stark’s AI. So far, Riri has had to deal with hardships no one should face, especially people as young as her.
The death of Riri’s step-father and best friend (ahem, I meant only friend) further emphasizes her “loner” nature (because of her genius IQ and interest in engineering). She has a rather unfortunate life at the moment. She is alone—except for having her mum, who is also alone—and it’s just plain sad. She’s 15 years old. She should have friends, free time, the want to goof off, etc. Her childhood has been anything but normal, but even so, it is shaping her into a great superhero—if she makes it out alive. I have no doubt that Riri has the capacity, competence, and intelligence to make the technology she needs, but does she really know what she’s getting into?
Stefano Caselli’s illustrations make the issue as intense as it is. The first two splash pages make up a dark and rather eerie looking ambience in which Tony Stark is training Riri with about 17 of his armored suits, all ready to fight. The weather is grim, the city looks dark, and the AIs look ready to roll. We can easily see that Riri’s armor is less advanced than Tony Stark’s. It’s not as aerodynamic or even intricately designed. Already, we can tell that Riri is going to have a lot of work to do before she hits hero status.
The line work in this issue is really smooth, clean, and neat. Small details like the splashing of water help to create a realistic atmosphere and believable storyline. I have to say, though, that my favorite part of the issue artistically is when Riri finds her best friend dead in the hospital. The sheer distress, sadness, raw emotion on her face can be seen from a mile away. Her facial expressions are more revealing than a lot of artwork on the shelf.
To any Iron Man fan, this is a must-read book. For a new look at an old character, this is a great series to read. Riri Williams has, thus far, proven to be a worthy successor to Tony Stark. The new Iron Man is well on her way to becoming triumphant, if only she can avoid the enemy fast enough.
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by: Stefano Caselli