INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 1/18/16
Riri Williams officially has the suit and artificial intelligence necessary to be an Iron Man. The only problem? She hates the name. As she tries coming up with one of her own, paranoia threatens to undercut her progress.
Plot: Mary Jane Watson opens Invincible Iron Man #3 by introducing Stark Headquarters to its new leader: Tony’s biological mother, Amanda Armstrong. Her career as a musician softens advisor Eric Lynch to her – he’s a huge fan – and allows her and Mary Jane to continue leaving the company in AI Friday’s capable hands. Once they’re alone, Amanda is informed of Riri’s existence and finds herself very keen to help the girl.
Since Tony already sent himself to Riri, there’s not much to do but hope she doesn’t get frustrated enough with his AI to destroy it. After the two of them have argued about hero names and her lack of friendships through an entire session of battling monsters, Pepper Potts reveals herself and explains that she’s been following Riri since New York.
Story: The most important thing that Invincible Iron Man #3 accomplishes is expanding the world of the story beyond Riri’s own experiences. It’s been wonderful and necessary to get to know her in the first two issues, in order to create a compelling heroine without letting Tony’s presence take over. But now that she’s a little more established, it makes sense for Bendis to incorporate other elements of Iron Man back into the story. While readers don’t necessarily learn anything new from Mary Jane and Amanda’s interactions, it is a pleasure to see them continuing Tony’s work. Hopefully they will cross paths with Riri soon.
Opening up Riri’s world doesn’t mean we get less exploration of her psyche in this issue, however. Even though there aren’t any flashbacks this time around, Tony does try to get to the bottom of her isolation and brings up Natalie in an effort to get Riri talking. Unfortunately it has the opposite effect, causing her to lash out at him and distracting her from her surroundings. While it is heartbreaking watching her avoid dealing with her pain, it makes the moment that she does break down worth it.
The first meeting with Pepper Potts is also fun, allowing Riri to show off her friendlier side and introducing some comedy into the issue. If there’s one thing every character in Invincible Iron Man can agree on, it’s that Tony Stark can be a handful even after he’s no longer corporeal. While this issue was mostly set up, the splash page leaves us wondering how Pepper and Riri will work as a team against the latest threat.
Art: Invincible Iron Man did not contain much action this month, but the fight sequences that are included are beautifully rendered by Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia. And of course, the previously mentioned splash page introduces a credible cliffhanger for next month without needing much dialogue to accompany it.
Gorgeously rendered monsters aside, the art this issue aptly handles the many emotional conversations its characters must go through. Whether it’s Amanda mourning the loss of her recently discovered son or Riri herself finally letting down some of the walls she built around her heart, Caselli’s art here is practically a guide to drawing human emotions.
The purple and pink New York City backdrop lends an air of majesty to the rooftop sequence, as well. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but the sunset is depicted by proxy in such a hopeful way that one can’t help but connect it to the end of Riri’s mourning and the beginning of a new life as Ironheart.
Verdict: Invincible Iron Man #3 succeeds in building the world of Iron Man back up and reincorporates beloved characters such as Mary Jane and Pepper Potts in a believable way, without interfering with Riri Williams as the hero of the story.