The adventures of Marvel’s latest legacy hero continue in the third issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ revamped Invincible Iron Man series, as part of the company’s All-New All-Different initiative. As it turns out, however, it’s not as all-new and different as we might have thought, seeing as issue #3 re-introduces some old friends of Tony Stark.
Yes, if you’ve been following Civil War II you’ll know that Stark is gone and teenage prodigy Riri Williams is now getting to grips with taking on the mantle of Iron Man. The first two issues in this series were entertaining, if familiar, tales about Riri getting used to life as a superhero – and the weirdness of having an A.I hologram of Tony Stark following you around. Invincible Iron Man #3 nicely moves things forwards by, ironically, moving things back as Riri becomes involved in Stark’s world.
This outing is definitely the best yet for ties to the wider Marvel universe, as it’s split between Riri and how Mary Jane, Friday and Amanda Armstrong (Tony’s recently-discovered biological mother) are finding the task of running Stark Industries. Meanwhile, Pepper Potts AKA Rescue turns up to offer Riri some advice.
Without taking the spotlight away from Ms. Williams, these appearances will appease anyone getting homesick for the more established characters. That said, anyone who has hopped on the ride recently and is not familiar with the last iteration of Invincible Iron Man or International Iron Man may be put out at first, though Bendis ensures everyone gets up to speed within a page or two.
This is still Riri’s book, though, and the heart of the story belongs to her. In previous issues, we’ve seen that Riri’s stepdad and best friend were gunned down in a bout of senseless urban violence (a superhero origin story that is sadly all too believable). Here, A.I. Tony tries to help her come to terms with that, which makes for a nice emotional through-line as we see Riri go about her superhero’ing – watch out for quickfire cameos from the likes of Miles Morales and the Rhino.
Riri also reaches an important moment in any superhero’s career this issue, as she chooses her superhero name. This leads to a fun discussion between her and A.I. Tony as she balks at his suggestions of “Iron Girl” and “Iron Woman,” or even worse, “Fe-Male” (Fe being the periodic symbol for Iron). Bendis has written for Stark for a long time now, so it’s no surprise that his A.I. continues to steal the show. He’s lost none of his ego and charm in the translation to the digital plane.
Backing up Bendis’ snappy storytelling is Stefano Caselli’s dependable artwork and Marte Gracia on coloring duties. Of particular note is that Riri’s slimline Ironheart suit debuts in this issue and, as teased on previous issue covers, it thankfully looks great. In effect, it’s just Stark’s suit with a more feminine shape but hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
It’ll take a few more issues until we can decide if Invincible Iron Man is as good as Bendis’ last ‘teen legacy hero of a Marvel icon’ series in Ultimate Spider-Man, but things have certainly got off to a very strong start.
Issue #3 of Invincible Iron Man nicely keeps the balance between re-introducing some old friends and furthering new hero Riri Williams' own story.