Bendis hopes Tony Stark fans take to Iron Riri … because Riri

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.