The partisan politics of modern Marvel Comics creators is a mainstay of this blog, but for the most part it is usually discussed within the context of whatever “red state vs. blue state” argument makes headlines each week. Today, however, I’d like to dig a little deeper into the zero-sum politics of these writers and artists. In short, they act as if any positive development for “Character A” means that “Character B” is negatively affected.
For instance, Tony Stark’s existence as Iron Man was problematic for writer Brian Michael Bendis’ to introduce Ironheart — Riri Williams. Normal people have no problem with a young girl named Riri flying around the Marvel Universe while Mr. Stark does his thing. That is not the case for Marvel writers these days. In the mind of the modern Marvel creator, Mr. Stark needed to be hurt or sidelined or have his reputation sullied in some way so that a minority female character could succeed.
This line of thinking has poisoned Marvel’s decision-making from the top down in recent years, and as long as it continues the industry as a whole will needlessly suffer. For more details on this, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video on the subject. Then, if you like what you’ve seen, be sure subscribe for regular updates.
As always, make sure to let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Question: When is an Invincible Iron Man book not an Invincible Iron Man book?
Answer: When Brian Michael Bendis needs to buoy sales while his new — seemingly perfect — female character named Ironheart tries to gain traction with potential customers.
If you want to know how the progression of Riri Williams is going over at Marvel these days, all you need to know is that the editorial philosophy seems to be that all new female characters need to be perfect to avoid criticism from feminists on Tumblr. The problem for writers like Mr. Bendis, however, is that “perfect” tends to translate “boring” on the page.
Humans have flaws, which is one of the many reasons why Peter Parker and Tony Stark are so relatable. When a character is the most intelligent, funniest, superaweseomecoolest (on word) person in the room, then it’s just lame.
Anyway, if you want to hear the full rundown, then check out my latest YouTube review for IIM #2 and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Imagine that you grew up reading Iron Man comics books. You love anything with Tony Stark, but for some reason Marvel’s Brian Michael Bendis was given the green light to make him disappear like a terrorist taken to a CIA black site. You’re annoyed, but at the same time you want to be open-minded about the creative possibilities of an “A.I. Tony Stark” mentor to some young kid named Riri Williams. You open the book, and just like multiple other stories by Mr. Bendis, you’re served up a giant helping of racial politics.
Question:Would you continue to read the book?
If you want a better idea of why so many readers want nothing to do with Marvel these days, then check out my latest Youtube review of Invincible Iron Man. If the format resonates with you, then make sure subscribe for future installments on your activist-writers within the comic book industry.
Months ago it was announced that Marvel would essentially be race and gender-bending Iron Man by handing the book over to a teenage genius named Riri Williams. Fans were not given much to work with in terms of the new character’s background, other than Brian Michael Bendis’ claim that she was “probably” smarter than the billionaire philanthropist (who would go missing before Invincible Iron Man relaunched).
IIM is now on the market, but technically Tony Stark is still around due to delays with Civil War II. That means that many customers who purchased Riri’s debut issue reached the last page and had the same reaction I did: “What the heck happened to Tony Stark?! We weren’t told in IIM 14 and we weren’t told in Infamous Iron Man #1. Thanks a lot, Bendis.”
Here is what you need to know for IIM #1:
A flashback sequence includes a Steve Harvey lookalike telling Riri Williams’ family that she is a “super genius.” She was five years old at the time of the diagnosis.
Riri’s stepfather and best friend were killed in a drive-by shooting in Chicago two years ago. Riri would have likely died had her stepdad not pushed her to the ground.
Teenage Riri, now in her Ironheart armor, flies to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to take on the mutant Animax and her genetically created monsters. The A.I. in the Riri’s suit is horrible, but eventually Animax is defeated.
Cops (seemingly raaaaaaacist because they come from Wyoming and are not as enlightened as Brian Michael Bendis and his pals in New York City…), see the color of Riri’s skin and then shoot her armored hemet between the eyes without warning. After shooting her they say, “On the ground now!” and “Dude! Weapons down!” (Note: Check out the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” pose on Riri before a bullet pings off her helmet. Subtlety is not Marvel’s strong suit these days.)
Riri crushes the officers’ handguns and takes off.
A mysterious package arrives at Riri’s house. She pushes the button as her mother watches next to her. The “essence” of Tony Stark, an A.I. version of the genius billionaire, says it’s time to “get to work.”
Here’s the deal: Technically, there is nothing wrong with Invincible Iron Man. It’s a decent first issue for a character, but the problem for Iron Man fans is that decent isn’t good enough when a writer is trying to replace Tony Stark.
Making matters worse for Mr. Bendis is the fact that Iron Man fans are being asked to fork over cash for his replacement (temporary, it seems safe to assume, as long as Robert Downey Jr. is starring in Marvel Studios films), without knowing what happens to him by the end of Civil War II.
Right now Mr. Bendis is using A.I. Tony Stark like Dan Slott used “ghost Peter” during Superior Spider-Man, hoping fans will be placated enough by a talking shadow to keep the book on their comic shop pull list. That’s a tall order, and it’s made even more difficult by the politically correct predictions already being thrown about by industry reviewers.
Despite their similarities — their genius-level intellects, engineering abilities, and desire to help people — Riri’s background is going to define her in a way that is completely different from Tony. She’s a young black woman who’s known careless violence and who built her own flying suit as a teenager — she’s miles ahead of Tony both socially and intellectually. …
On top of everything, Riri is going to have to deal with Tony’s attitude and privileged background. For once, Tony will have to take a backseat, and watching their relationship unfold throughout the course of the series will be half the fun.
Got that, Tony Stark fans? The prediction, which seems to be a safe bet, is that Brian Michael Bendis will spend the next year flogging you over the head with weird messages about “white privilege.”
This issue it was those darn racist cops from Wyoming, but next issue perhaps it will be A.I. Tony Stark letting you know that he is “socially and intellectually” behind the power curve.
My suggestion, at least for now, is to hold off on buying Invincible Iron Man until a.) Civil War II concludes, and b.) Bendis proves to readers that he is going to keep racial politics to an absolute minimum.
Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II #5 hit stores this week, and someone must have slipped something in his drink because he dedicated the entire issue to a massive brawl between Team Stark and Team Danvers. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? You’ll have to check out my latest YouTube video to find out.
After you’re done watching, let me know what you think in the comments section below — particularly you’re thoughts on the Inhuman Ulysses’ latest vision.
Brian Michael Bendis is one of Marvel’s key writers, but in a previous life he may have been a circus juggler. Spider-Man #8 somehow manages to move the title’s plot forward, set the stage for Champions, and seamlessly tie into Civil War II. Technically, Mr. Bendis hits all of his marks. Creatively, however, SM #8 once again shows why many older Marvel fans are fed up with the company.
Here is what you need to know for SM #8:
Jessica Jones and Luke Cage confront Miles Morales on a rooftop and say they know his secret identity.
Miles is upset to find out that his grandmother hired Jessica Jones to spy on him, but he is glad to hear that his mother tried to pay the investigator to cancel the contract. He agrees not to say anything to his family after the older heroes tell him to get his act together.
Miles is summoned to the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, by Tony Stark. A large group of superheroes are informed by Stark and Captain Marvel that everyone will confront the Hulk about Ulysses’ vision of him killing everyone.
Nova, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel are stunned by what happens and the two young men publicly state their allegiance to Tony Stark. Ms. Marvel breaks down into tears because her role model set the stage for Banners’s death.
This sounds like a great issue, right? Well, sort of. One’s enjoyment or hatred of SM #8 really hinges on his or her opinions on Civil War II. Bendis — and artist Nico Leon — do an admirable job showing young heroes who struggle to find their place in an “adult” world, but at the same time it all comes at the expense of classic characters.
There is a scene after Banner’s death where the three kids come together to comfort one another that is incredibly poignant, but the feeling disappears the moment one realizes that Captain Marvel and every superhero who sides with her has taken on a goofy position to make Civil War II work.
It was just under one year ago that Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man launched. Yours truly was excited at its potential, and even gave the first handful of issues rave reviews. Then, something weird happened. IIM became a plodding tale about Tony Stark’s search for an identity. He sat around his lab and, for all intents and purposes, did his own version of Derek Zoolander’s, “Who am I?” into a puddle of water.
IIM #13 is the culmination of a book that promised to take readers to great places when in reality it only gave them Victor Von Doom (looking quite a bit like Rand Paul) locked inside an energy bubble.
Here is what you need to know about IIM #13:
Doom takes Tony to Cambridge, where biochemical engineer Amara Perera is illegally testing her experimental Alzheimer’s drugs.
Doom and Tony argue about whether or not they are friends or enemies.
Tony tries to explain why he didn’t tell his girlfriend that he was going undercover or get word to her that he didn’t die in Japan.
Amara Perera tells Tony “I don’t know anything about you,” and moments later he confesses his love.
Tony tells Amara about James Rhodes dying, leaves, and then spends time in his lab thinking about Rhodey. He does not attend the hero’s funeral.
Doom returns to torment Tony and is locked inside “a zero-point energy web net.” Tony says he wants answers. “You’re going to tell me why you’re all over me. Why? Why have you decided to be in my life all of a sudden? Why? Why me?” he asks.
Marvel fans already have a good idea how all of this will turn, given that IIM is going to be launched with RiRi Williams as Ironheart — and that Infamous Iron Man, “Iron Doom” will launch in October.
Before we move on, let us go over our Mighty Marvel Checklist:
Superior Spider-Man? Check.
Infamous Iron Man? Check.
Bruce Banner killed because he might go Infamous Hulk on everyone? Check.
Interesting pattern, Marvel. It seems like Tony isn’t the only one having an identity crisis…
It has been established that Amara Perera is a smart woman, but she and Tony’s “relationship” consists of a small bit of playful banter and cross-talk early on in the book. How does that translate into “love,” and why would Tony say that to a woman who a.) agreed to be “taken off the grid” by Doctor Doom, and b.) suddenly calls the villain “Victor”?
Answer:It would not translate into love.
Tony would not say that, and readers should be insulted that Bendis would make him go there with a woman who has always been skittish about his lifestyle, personality, and double-life as Iron Man.
In short, if you have read IIM this long then you may as well buy the last issue before the relaunch. If you are considering Infamous Iron Man for you pull list, then just be aware that Iron Doom may essentially be the tale of Victor Von Zoolander.
Iron Man fans know that the clock is ticking on Tony Stark. Brian Michael Bendis is relaunching Invincible Iron Man with a new character — Riri Williams — as the protagonist. This young woman, who Bendis said is “probably” smarter than Stark, will call herself Ironheart.
It is my belief that Marvel has once again botched an opportunity to diversity its stable of superheroes without annoying long-term readers. Check out my new YouTube video on the subject and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Civil War II #4 is out, which means that it’s time for another review on Marvel’s latest hero vs. hero event. Check out your friendly neighborhood blogger’s latest Youtube video and share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Marvel’s Civil War II #3 was released today, which means Bruce Banner is officially dead (until he’s alive again). Your friendly neighborhood blogger might do up a write-up in the future, but I figured the occasion offered a good excuse to experiment with uploading my first real YouTube review.