RiRi Man

When Invincible Iron Man fans last left off, writer Brian Michael Bendis led them to believe Tony Stark, James Rhodes, and Spider-Man died in an explosion perpetrated by a mysterious enemy. IIM #9 picks up four weeks later and Tony Stark is still missing.

Investors want answers because a dead man cannot run a company. James Rhodes wants answers because he and Spider-Man apparently survived. MIT student RiRi, a teenage genius, is also looking for the billionaire in a suit she made from stolen parts because … why, exactly? The reasoning Bendis gives her is pretty flakey: Fate.

RiRi

Before returning to RiRi, here is what you need to know about IIM #9:

  • Rhodey returns to Osaka, Japan, to press Yukio for answers on Tony’s disappearance. He threatens to shut down her illegal gambling operation if she doesn’t talk.
  • S.W.A.T.-type agents raid Yukio’s establishment when she refuses to help. An anonymous man beats up Rhodey and takes her to safety during the chaos.
  • Doctor Doom convinces Stark’s girlfriend, biochemical engineer Amara Perera, to illegally test her experimental Alzheimer’s drugs on humans.
  • The man who helped Yukio escape, “Mr. Franco,” turns out to be Tony Stark in disguise. He somehow faked his own death to get closer to the organization that tried to kill him.

James Rhodes

IIM is now nine issues into its run and, quite honestly, not a whole lot has happened. While Bendis does a good job laying out breadcrumbs for readers to follow, there is only so long one can walk before fatigue sets in.

At this point it seems like a legitimate question for fans to ask, “When will we get the payoff?”

True, IIM has had moments of action, but they still have not really brought readers any closer to knowing what is going on with Madam Masque, Doctor Doom, or bio-hacking ninjas. The slog may be worth it, but at this point Bendis is testing readers’ patience. Spending time on a character who appears to be just the latest effort by Marvel to fill out a diversity checklist (i.e., We’ve got a new Iron Man — but’s it’s an Iron Woman and she’s a minority. How do you like us now?) exacerbates the problem.

Tony disguise

Will RiRi be a cool character? Perhaps. It just seems as though Marvel is on a weird quest to make female and minority versions of countless established characters.

Peter Parker, meet Miles Morales. Thor, meet She-Thor. Steve Rogers, go be an old man and make way for Sam Wilson. Logan, meet X-23. Bruce Banner, step aside for Amadeus Cho. Tony Stark, meet Iron Riri.

Sometimes it works, as with Sam Wilson and Amadeus Cho, but at the end of the day Marvel would be much better served by creating diverse heroes who are not derivatives of the classics.

If you have been reading IIM, then you should give Bendis a few more issues to deliver a decent payday before possibly jumping ship. If you have not been reading IIM, then you should probably wait until “The War Machines” wraps up before investing in the title.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

14 comments

  1. “Peter Parker, meet Miles Morales. Thor, meet She-Thor. Steve Rogers, go be an old man and make way for Sam Wilson. Logan, meet X-23. Bruce Banner, step aside for Amadeus Cho. Tony Stark, meet Iron Riri.”

    Some of those characters (like Falcon and X-23) are pre-established characters, not ones exclusively invented as a successor. Stuff like that has happened before, with War Machine and Iron Man. So, how’s it different now?

    (And to be frank, X-23 is one of the most logical choices for a new Wolverine; there’s no convoluted explanation how she got similar powers and she already has ties to her successor so a passing of the mantle makes sense.)

    1. “Some of those characters (like Falcon and X-23) are pre-established characters, not ones exclusively invented as a successor. Stuff like that has happened before, with War Machine and Iron Man. So, how’s it different now?”

      I’m sorry to call you out, but you often ask questions before taking a step back and asking yourself, “What’s the broader point Doug is making here?”

      Given that I have explicitly said that I’m on board with Falcon temporarily taking over the mantle of Captain America, and given that I said the same thing about Amadeus Cho as Hulk, it’s obvious that I can understand and appreciate good ideas that just so happen to diversify Marvel.

      What I do not like is a writer shoving politically correct decisions down my throat and then insinuating or flat-out calling me a racist when I complain. I will be writing a blog post on Bendis’ Time magazine interview shortly, where he does exactly that using straw-man arguments.

      I don’t mind answering questions, but I do mind having to answer a question when the answer has been stated in a myriad of ways on this blog on a regular basis. I even answered your question in the paragraph below the one that prompted your question. I underlined and bolded the font to make my point unmistakably clear…

      “Sometimes it works, as with Sam Wilson and Amadeus Cho, but at the end of the day Marvel would be much better served by creating diverse heroes who are not derivatives of the classics.”

  2. Sorry, I’m a pretty occasional reader here and tend to ask stuff on a case-by-case basis. So, sorry if I’m not connecting the dots.

    I also find that I’m rarely on the same page with other people when it comes to questions about diversity in fiction. I don’t really care overly much whether a non-white character is replacing a white one (or vice versa). IMHO, that’s a non-issue. Everyone has to be one ethnicity or another; so what if it’s a different one? (My biased opinion).*

    What I’m interested in is A.) Are they removing a character I love and don’t want changed? and B.) Is the new character interesting? So, when people talk about how it was good (or bad) that “Ultimate Spider-Man” got a black title character replacement with Miles Morales, I literally have zero opinion on it. It just is. (If you like it good for you; if not, sorry it wasn’t to your liking.) For my money, I didn’t like the character because the sole reason I read or watch “Spider-Man” stuff, is because Peter Parker is the title character (the fact that I also like his supporting cast, style of adventures, etc. is a secondary reason). I also haven’t found him interesting as a superhero character period.

    So, I guess it could be possible that you’re wondering about something that doesn’t bother me because it doesn’t register with me.

    *Kind of the same thing for movie and TV casting. I usually prefer if they hire someone who looks like the character, but it is an adaptation, so if hiring someone who doesn’t look like the character results in a better casting decision, I’m okay with that.

    1. “Sorry, I’m a pretty occasional reader here and tend to ask stuff on a case-by-case basis. So, sorry if I’m not connecting the dots.”

      That’s fine, but in this case I literally answered your question in the paragraph below the content that prompted it. I didn’t even realize it right away because I was in the back end of WordPress when I replied to your question.

      “I also find that I’m rarely on the same page with other people when it comes to questions about diversity in fiction.I don’t really care overly much whether a non-white character is replacing a white one (or vice versa). IMHO, that’s a non-issue. Everyone has to be one ethnicity or another; so what if it’s a different one? (My biased opinion).*”

      Do you ever ask yourself why you’re not on the same page as so many other people? One reason is because for a lot of people it is insulting to suggest that their favorite character is so expendable that he can just be killed off and replaced with [insert female or minority version here] and the only legitimate response should supposed to be clapping and hosannas.

      The writers and editors take giant dumps on characters who are beloved by generations of readers, and then when the fan backlash ensues good people are slimed as racists, bigots, homophobes or whatever. The writers make a derivative of our favorite characters and then say we’re jerks for pointing out an obvious truth.

  3. “That’s fine, but in this case I literally answered your question in the paragraph below the content that prompted it.”

    Okay, sorry I missed that. Must’ve been skimming, or something.

    “Do you ever ask yourself why you’re not on the same page as so many other people? One reason is because for a lot of people it is insulting to suggest that their favorite character is so expendable that he can just be killed off and replaced with [insert female or minority version here] and the only legitimate response should supposed to be clapping and hosannas.”

    Hmm. Well, my thing is, if they were to kill of or replace my favorite character, I’d be mad period. It wouldn’t matter who they replaced the character with or for what reason. I can follow that people are upset if they’re told that a decision they don’t like is one they should be praising (and are falsely accused of why they dislike it; I don’t like it either). But, honestly, I think the bigger question is whether the character in question can be replaced period. If they can (and you’ll never please everyone on this), then if they pull out a new ethnicity for the replacement, I’m not worried about that. It’s a new character, it can anything the authors want it to be. I worry about whether the character is a good one or not.

    On the other hand, I don’t tend to be sensitive about stuff that I’m not a major fan of in the first place. Like the Riri Williams character. To be frankly honest, I have no problem with her trying to be Iron Man, Jr. and am actually kind of curious where this goes. The caveat being that I’m not a big Iron Man fan in the first place, so I don’t have a lot of investment in Tony Stark being the one in the suit. (I do understand if fans who like classic Iron Man are offended, since I myself view Peter Parker as the only real Spider-Man, so I’m not saying they should be forced to like it.) Not saying that I’m being fair, but I literally am not bothered by the decision (the fact that I’m sure Tony Stark will be getting his grand return sooner or later doesn’t help be care much about his leaving, either).

    “The writers and editors take giant dumps on characters who are beloved by generations of readers, and then when the fan backlash ensues good people are slimed as racists, bigots, homophobes or whatever. The writers make a derivative of our favorite characters and then say we’re jerks for pointing out an obvious truth.”

    Yeah, I don’t know. It seems to have become so sensitive an issue that there’s no safe grounds for discussion. If you don’t support it, you’re prejudiced and backwards. If you do support it, you’re being disrespectful to the original character and putting PC above all else. Me, it’s completely a case-by-case basis. Some I think are fine, others don’t work.

    I’m probably pretty inconsistent, but since this is all entertainment, I tend to approach it very subjectively and my personal opinions on whether I like ideas or not will probably influence whether I support them or not.

    1. “Well, my thing is, if they were to kill of or replace my favorite character, I’d be mad period. It wouldn’t matter who they replaced the character with or for what reason. […] On the other hand, I don’t tend to be sensitive about stuff that I’m not a major fan of in the first place. Like the Riri Williams character. To be frankly honest, I have no problem with her trying to be Iron Man, Jr. and am actually kind of curious where this goes.”

      This really says it all: If it affects you and your likes, then it’s an issue. If it doesn’t, then you don’t care. Your opinions are driven by a very “Weblurker”-centered worldview, whereas fans like me are upset about much broader questions about the creative process. That’s why someone like me gets annoyed at She-Thor while you are like, “Hmmm. Let’s see where this goes. I’m not really getting why you’re so bent out of shape.”

  4. Well, as I said before, that’s all my subjective opinion. I’m not insisting that everyone share it of that I’m right (in fact, since it’s so subjective, I know I’m not completely right). Just because it doesn’t bother me doesn’t mean that shouldn’t not bother someone else.

    I’m afraid that I do tend to look squarely at the finished product and not so much at the creative process. I guess that I kind of look at stuff closer to the “death of author” spectrum then otherwise, since the story itself is going to be the thing that outlasts all the behind the scenes stuff. How many people know that “Citizen Kane” was in part about William Randolph Hearst?

    I guess the second thing is that everything has its fans. Case in point, I don’t care for the Miles Morales character, but for some people, that’s their version of the character. You’ve gone on record as not being a fan of the “Star Wars” prequels, but I like them and find that they make the movie series more enjoyable. So, I tend to be cautious about dismissing something as bad right off the bat; just because I don’t see any value in it doesn’t mean that other people will, and sometimes an idea you don’t like can turn out to make for an enjoyable story if you give it a chance (I’ve had this experience with movies I didn’t think looked that good from the trailers).

    On top of all this, I was mostly explaining how I process my reading material as reading material. The criticism of it is a different ball game and one I’m not qualified to make. So, I’m sorry if I come of as a self-centered person, but that’s not the intent or even that accurate. I’m only explaining how I process stuff, not how I should do it, or how other people should, or even that just accepting because you like it is the end of the game. There are plenty of movies and books I like that I know aren’t “good,” but I still enjoy them in spite of the underlying flaws.

    1. “You’ve gone on record as not being a fan of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, but I like them and find that they make the movie series more enjoyable. So, I tend to be cautious about dismissing something as bad right off the bat.”

      You’re doing it again. You’re insinuating that someone like me dismisses things “as bad right off the bat” when I do no such thing. Yes, it’s possible to vehemently be against a singular decision within a greater creative whole and still give the product a fair review. You’re basically using the same sort of tactics employed by Marvel’s writers to deflect honest criticism of their work.

  5. “You’re doing it again. You’re insinuating that someone like me dismisses things “as bad right off the bat” when I do no such thing.”

    Sorry. In retrospect, that wasn’t a fair comment, since you have been reviewing the comics with this new character since day one.

    When it comes to stuff like this, I strongly identify with Hobbes comment from “Calvin and Hobbes”: “I thought fun was supposed to be fun.” (In context, Calvin is reading a magazine on bubble gum and is very interested in using the data in it to dictate how he chews his own gum. The strip can be found in the book collection “The Days Are Just Packed” page 72, or here http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1992/05/07).

    I’ve also been recently discussing reboots and massive changes to franchises on another forum, where someone else was poising the idea that a franchise needs to be handled with everyone in mind, not just the older fanbase, so reboots and changes of pace that act as gateways for new readers are generally good things. I’m doing awful job of explaining it, but that has been rattling in my mind a lot lately and probably influenced me here.

    I also have to admit that my favorite parts of Marvel tend to come from different adaptations and versions. Case in point, as far as “X-Men,” goes the “Evolution” cartoon really defined the characters for me. “Spider-Man” would be some sort of half-way point between the original movies, the Ultimate comics and RYV. The MCU would fill in the rest of the gaps, with a few exceptions, etc. Since no single version of the franchise captures everything I like about Marvel in one package, that could influence me to being more open to some modifications to the franchise, since I don’t have a purely sacrosanct version of the franchise in mind (the way the prime universe “Star Trek” stuff is to me), but several that reimagine themselves and have differences.

    Finally, I have been trying to take major changes in franchises that I dislike a lot less seriously. I find that stewing over how I hate the “Star Trek” reboots, the “Spider-Man: One More Day” and it’s subsequent stuff, etc. really sap the enjoyment out of the stuff I do like. So, I’ve been trying to cultivate a more live and let live attitude at this stuff, so that may have had a influence, too. Besides, as the famous comic book quote goes: “This is a fictional story. Aren’t they all?”

    I’m seriously not trying to offend anyone. Sorry about that happening here. I’m guessing this’s probably one of those things best discussed in person or something.

    1. “Sorry. In retrospect, that wasn’t a fair comment, since you have been reviewing the comics with this new character since day one.”

      No problem. But no, it was not a fair comment.

      “When it comes to stuff like this, I strongly identify with Hobbes comment from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’: ‘I thought fun was supposed to be fun.'”

      You should tell that to the activist-writers who keep politicizing their work. I’ll be reviewing Sam Wilson: Captain America #10 in the very near future, for instance. If Nick Spencer wants to keep demonizing large swathes of the population, cops, etc., in his books, then the reviews for said work will not focus on “fun.”

      “I’m seriously not trying to offend anyone. Sorry about that happening here.”

      I don’t think you’re trying to offend, and I don’t even think “offensive” is the right word. It’s just weird to see someone frame my arguments a certain way when he knows (or should know based on regular reading) that I would never hold such a myopic stance.

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