Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Stefano Caselli / Marvel Comics
I have been the biggest fan of Riri’s brief run thus far, watching Bendis do great work of weaving the narrative of a brand new and unique hero. However, this might have been the first issue that kind of left me at “ehh.” A number of things work against the narrative in this issue that throw off the pacing and story construction enough to be distracting. Whereas the flashbacks had previously been used to good effect of grounding and doing more exposition work of Riri, this issue the flashbacks range from heavy handed, not necessarily serving the current action. Riri’s conversation with her teach in which she is shocked that her teacher doesn’t discourage her from lofty expectations “because that’s what you tell African-Americans” was somewhat cringeworthy and a way too on-the-nose, especially to be a conversation that young Riri initiated. The other flashbacks loosely follow the story of Riri idolizing Mae Jemison, which is a cool thread, but still doesn’t do much to inform the present.
In the present, Riri is still learning the proper superhero etiquette when she shows up to a large and public crime scene in her armor. It is an interesting moment of both naivety and then humility as she deals with S.H.I.E.L.D. What does work well, even if it still comes out of the left field, is the action sequences that are beautifully idealized and captured in Caselli’s pencils. A new(ish) but temporary foe enters a scene which narratively doesn’t hold much water, but is at least cool to witness for the combat alone.
In what has been a stellar run, this issue had some issues with consistency and pacing that made it less engaging than previous issues. Still, the book ends by opening up a conflict with a much bigger fish for Riri, so it promises to kick things up a bit moving forward.
Reading Invincible Iron Man? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.