Iron Man Franco

Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man has employed a cloak and dagger sensibility for ten issues now. Readers have more or less been treated to a solid tale of corporate espionage, but at some point in time even the most patient readers will move on. There needs to be a payoff to months of running around in the shadows, and luckily it seems as though IIM #11 will be the issue to deliver.

Perhaps the best way to describe IIM #10 is to liken it to a man at a talent show spinning plates. Bendis jumps around to multiple locations to keep his “Tony,” “Rhodey,” “Riri,” and “Mary Jane” plates moving long enough to get to his grand finale. What would be a total disaster in lesser hands (e.g., Jose Molina’s “point” issues in The Amazing Spider-Man) is handled well, and as a result it appears as though IIM #11 will be a must-read.

Before we move on, here is what you need to know about IIM #10:

  • Tony has gone under cover as the former Navy SEAL and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent “Franco.” Biohack ninjas in Japan take him hostage in the middle of the night because their leader wants to know more about him (he saved Yukio when her illegal gambling operation was raided).
  • Tony meets face-to-face with  Tomoe, aka “Techno Golem,” an Inhuman who can control technology. After proving his hand-to-hand combat skills with her biohack ninjas, she tells “Franco” (i.e., Tony Stark using advanced bio-technology to look like an aging Luke Perry) that he may be potentially valuable to her. She wants to take down S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, Wakanda, Atlantis, and Attilan. She also wants to kill … James Rhodes.
  • Mary Jane goes to her apartment after receiving a mysterious package. A device with a button says “push me” and she inexplicably obliges. Tony’s AI assistant, Friday, emerges and pleads with her to take the job at Stark Industries. The board of directors is meeting to seize control of the company because they believe Tony is dead.
  • Riri Williams, the 15-year-old whiz kid from MIT, conducts a test flight in her Iron Man-like armor. She deems herself “Iron Maiden” and tells a friend, “You can tell no one what I am about to do.”
  • James Rhodes meets with the Avengers and says they need to figure out how to confront a tech-based terrorist group using only their “natural abilities.” He says all contact has been lost with Tony, which means things may “get very bad very quickly.”

Given what readers know, it is imperative for Bendis to bring serious action to IIM #11. Mary Jane will undoubtedly spend time attempting to defuse the situation with Stark Industries’ board of directors, but it can be stressed enough how much this title needs some high-octane butt-kicking, bullets, and giant explosions. It’s time. Make it happen, Mr. Bendis. Seriously.

Finally, one cannot talk about IIM #10 without wondering about Riri “Iron Maidan” Williams.

Riri Willaims Iron Maiden.jpeg

Who is she? Where did she come from? Is Bendis blatantly signaling this is just checking off a gender score card when she specifically asks her friend, “If Iron Man was a woman what would you call him?”

Fact: I want to like a superhero in Stark-like armor named Iron Maiden. It’s cool. I cannot deny that. What is not cool is blatantly beating readers with the message “I am doing this because every iconic male superhero needs a female counterpart — and if you roll your eyes then you’re kind of a bad person.”

Many readers, myself included, will give Riri Williams a shot — but if Bendis starts trying to guilt Iron Man fans into an instant love fest, then it is likely his efforts will spectacularly backfire.

Exit Questions:

  1. Mary Jane is supposed to be winking at readers in this cover photo, but why does it just look like Tony Stark gave her a black eye?
  2. Why would Mary Jane push a button from an anonymous stranger that looks incredibly bomb-like? She even covers her face with her left hand — as if that would somehow shield her from a giant blast. Did she not watch the old Ren and Stimpy episode with the “History Eraser Button”? Tsk, tsk, MJ.

MJ IIM 10
Mary Jane Iron Man button

Stimpy Red Button

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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.

16 comments

  1. Seems like they’re kind of undermining this storyline when they just killed off Rhodey in Civil War II. You’d think they’d try to coordinate that sort of thing.

    The Iron Maiden thing is asinine. If you pay attention you see that pop culture is really trying to push girls as tinkerers and mechanics lately (see Riri, Rey from Force Awakens, the Mechanist in Fallout 4, etc.). This is just blatantly false. Women simply don’t enjoy tinkering the way men do. It’s absurd to suggest that they do, or that people who would invent something like that in their spare time would be women. It’s one thing to praise women excessively for things they actually do; it really gets to be over the top when you start praising them for things they obviously don’t do.

    1. “Seems like they’re kind of undermining this storyline when they just killed off Rhodey in Civil War II. You’d think they’d try to coordinate that sort of thing.”

      I was thinking the same thing. I’ll probably get to a Civil War II review this weekend.

      “Women simply don’t enjoy tinkering the way men do. It’s absurd to suggest that they do, or that people who would invent something like that in their spare time would be women.”

      My issue with stuff like this isn’t so much the creation of the character, but the debates that follow. If someone like you comes along and makes a pretty innocuous observation regarding differences between men and women, then you’re demonized. You might cite scientific proof that men and women behave differently because their minds literally function in different ways, hormone levels result in different temperaments, etc., but then suddenly you’re the bad guy.

  2. I have’nt watched “Space Madness” in donkey’s years Doug, thanks for the memories.

    DID’NT YOU SEE ‘EM? DID’NT YOU SEE THE CROWDS?!

    Someone brought up this is the fifth instance or so of a 90210 actor being used in the artwork, I’d like to know what the others were, I barely paid attention to that show but always loved the theme song

    1. “I haven’t watched ‘Space Madness’ in donkey’s years Doug, thanks for the memories.”

      Little known “Doug Fact”: I think “Space Madness” is one of the most brilliant cartoon episodes of all time. “Ren and Stimpy” was like lightening in a bottle. It’s a shame the creators had a falling out… The first season was unlike anything on TV at the time and then it all went downhill from there.

  3. Plus Marvel already has a character named Iron Maiden: http://comicvine.gamespot.com/iron-maiden/4005-10968/

    I’m surprised the band didn’t raise a fuss about it, to be honest. LOL.

    Anyway, this sounds like another attempt at politically correct diversity. I don’t have anything against the idea of a woman in an Iron Man-style suit, but why can’t the new characters have their own identity? I mean, it seems like everyone of these “diverse” heroes is a knock-off of an already existing hero. Ms Marvel and Miles Morales both come to mind. To me, it would be better if they created a new hero rather than turn every character into a legacy hero. Not every character needs to be like The Flash or Green Lantern. They should be able to stand on their own.

  4. I thought we already had a female counterpart for Ironman in recent history. Tony gave Pepper her own suit called Rescue that was entirely defensive in its capabilities. It made sense, and it wasn’t shoved down our throats. What happened to that? Was Pepper not PC enough? Was it that she wasn’t ‘self-made’ (even though heroes rarely are)?

    Also, Iron Man is always full of second-rate imitations in both the MCU and the comics. Before I stopped reading, there was a Hammer Industries suit called ‘Detroit Steel’ that was supposed to take over Iron Man’s place in the hero world. And despite that it was built by tech geniuses, it still couldn’t stand up to the villains Stark faces routinely. It was a point to prove that Stark’s genius is extraordinary and can’t be replaced. Now because marvel has an official minority checklist, Stark went from the smartest person on earth to equal in intelligence to a college student. Does Marvel expect us to not see through that obvious pandering?

  5. The only reason Mary Jane pushed the button is because she has “Ren and Stimpy” Syndrome from Dan Slott since he used to write Ren and Stimpy comics!

    1. “The only reason Mary Jane pushed the button is because she has ‘Ren and Stimpy’ Syndrome from Dan Slott since he used to write Ren and Stimpy comics!”

      Heh. That is kind of funny.

      I can’t believe that someone in MJ’s shoes would receive an anonymous package, open it, and then willingly push the bomb-like device. When you have relationships with Iron Man and Spider-Man, that’s probably not the smartest decision in the world.

  6. Iron Maiden sounds great as a superhero name. It’s such a shame that the character underneath the suit doesn’t appear to be terribly interesting. Oh well.

    Also, Mary Jane, why are you opening a suspicious package that looks like a bomb and then activating it by pressing the red button? Shouldn’t you leave it to someone like Tony Stark or Peter handle this? If you don’t call them, then get the bomb squad on the job. Has Mary Jane’s IQ dropped to room temperature level now? Because it sure looks like it did, and I thought Brian Michael Bendis was smarter than that.

    Also Doug, I have something important to tell you. (prepares Professor Farnsworth voice) Good news everyone! I’ve found a group of people who are interested in making a comic publishing company! We’re hashing out the details right now.

    1. “Also Doug, I have something important to tell you. (prepares Professor Farnsworth voice) Good news everyone! I’ve found a group of people who are interested in making a comic publishing company! We’re hashing out the details right now.”

      Nice! That’s great news, GoldenEye. Keeping wining those small battles on a daily basis and eventually you will declare victory the “War for The Comics Publishing Company.” 🙂

  7. “What is not cool is blatantly beating readers with the message “I am doing this because every iconic male superhero needs a female counterpart — and if you roll your eyes then you’re kind of a bad person.”

    Wonder. Man.

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. “Wonder. Man. ‘Nuff said.”

      You’re seriously trying to make the case that an iconic DC Comics Amazon princess who calls herself Wonder Woman is the same as a D-list Marvel character who guys like me grew up laughing at when we flipped through bargain-bin copies of “The West Coast Avengers”? Okay.

      Show me where anyone who ever wrote or reviewed Wonder Man tried to make readers feel guilty for not liking the character. You can’t. That’s some expert leveling trolling, though. I’ll give you that much.

  8. I have finally met my nerd match. I bow to your superior geekery: I did not know there’d been a Wonder Man!

    Because everyone and her sister would roll their eyes if someone took an iconic female character and gave her a male counterpart because Gender Parity. And everyone would agree the eye roll was totally justified.

    Not sure where the epic troll comes in. Gender Parity rules in storytelling are just as dumb as a sack of rocks.

    1. “Not sure where the epic troll comes in. Gender Parity rules in storytelling are just as dumb as a sack of rocks.”

      I thought you were making the case that Wonder Man was somehow foisted upon the world because of Wonder Woman’s existence. I deeply apologize for misunderstanding.

      Regular readers will attest: There have been some bizarre things said in the comments section over the course of five years. If you think, “No…there is no way someone would say [insert off the wall Gender Parity rules opinion here]…” then there is a good chance it may show up in the comments section. If not, someone will find a link to Tumblr where groups of people are saying that exact same thing.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate it.

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