Bendis debuts ‘Iron Maiden’ in Iron Man #10 while Tony goes deep undercover

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.

Mary Jane Iron Man button

Stimpy Red Button