REVIEW: Riri Williams – Ironheart #1

RIRI WILLIAMS: IRONHEART #1 / Writer: Eve L. Ewing / Artists: Kevin Libranda, Luciano Vecchio, Matt Milla, Geoffo / Letterer: Clayton Cowles / Publisher: Marvel Comics / November 28th, 2018

Since her introduction, Riri Williams has caused waves in comic book fandom. Personally, despite being lukewarm about the way she was introduced, I’ve always had a soft spot for the character. Brian Michael Bendis created her. He started outlining a picture with tremendous potential, but then he left Marvel to go over to DC. For the past few months, it’s been Jim Zub’s job on Champions to write her and he’s been doing a tremendous job, but I’ve been craving a more focused look at her which a team book can’t provide. Over the past two years, we’ve had good bits and pieces, but her potential remained untapped. Now, the first issue of her own solo run hits the stands with Eve L. Ewing at the helm delivering on Ironheart’s true potential as a character.

From the opening page to the closing one Ewing shows she not only understands Riri but also wants to define the character’s future in the Marvel Universe. The first point I enjoyed was how she wasted no time getting into the story. The initial double-page spread, while visually beautiful, was a brief recap of Riri’s history, and it didn’t feel shoehorned. It was genuine, and Ewing—being a poet—played to her strengths by using poetry to catch the reader’s attention from the get-go. The entire script feels authentic to Riri’s personality while also trying to fully develop her character. The plot explores science and technology and actively ties the story to it. I love how Ewing explains what’s going on without talking down to her audience. She has Riri think through every part of her plan clearly to herself because that’s just how her mind works. Therefore the reader is exposed to everything without feeling overwhelmed by the wordiness. The story grabs your attention through how likable Riri is and opens up enough plot points to pique interest for the coming issues.

This first issue tees up Riri Williams as this generation’s Peter Parker. I know this is a big comparison, but Ironheart could truly define a new generation of comic book readers because of Riri’s relatable personality and heart—traits she shares with Peter. The quote “With great power comes great responsibility” is iconic because of how it can speak to anyone and how it shows the power behind what it means to Peter’s hero journey. Ewing’s inspiration might be evident, but it doesn’t make Riri’s reason to be a hero any less relatable. I will abstain from spoiling the scene since like Peter it needs to be experienced to feel the power behind it.

Riri might be a super genius, but the emotions she displays are real to a variety of teenagers. Ewing’s phenomenal characterization highlights Riri’s personality throughout this kick-off issue. Riri the introvert is shown on a few different occasions with a strong emphasis on how alone she feels. This focus was touching because it shows a type of personality that is rarely displayed in comics and one a lot of teenagers can relate to. Despite people around her trying to help none of them are quite able to get through to her, but it just takes one small thing for comfort to set in, as with Xavier. Ewing gives us a deep dive into Riri’s mind, promising an exciting journey in what is looking to be a beautiful tale.

The writing on this book is stellar, and the art keeps pace to elevate this first issue. Kevin Libranda and Luciano Vecchio match Ewing’s writing with expert artistic ability. They offer a modern comic book style which resonated with me perfectly. Their dynamic sequencing matched with character-focused shots brought the action sequences to the forefront while keeping the reader’s attention on what is important: Ironheart herself. Since this issue is focused on Riri’s personality, it needed the right art to express that. This allowed Ewing’s story to flow smoothly it especially drove the point home during the short dream sequence which was a crucial part of the story.

Matt Milla’s color added to the dynamism of the issue. It married itself nicely to the art, making Ironheart’s armor stand out in every panel. My favorite panel has to be the one where Riri and Xavier and listening to music. It brought so much to the story and exposed an important point of Riri’s personality. This came down to how the art was handled in that panel. The pastel colors and characters’ relaxed attitudes capture the scene’s the feeling of comfort. It perfectly emphasizes the newfound romance between them. This small moment was expertly handled by the entire creative team creating a real investment in this relationship for the reader.

This book is a must-read for all. Classic comic book fans will be able to appreciate it for the nostalgia since it brings in seeing old themes reinterpreted for younger audiences. People who want to jump into comic books will find it an easy and fun way to appreciate an up-and-coming young character. I have faith that Eve L. Ewing will use Riri Williams’ full potential. This first issue was refreshing delivering in action while keeping the focus on Riri’s personal struggles. I’m a huge Spider-Man fan, so when I say that Riri Williams is this generation’s Peter Parker…I mean it.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 Glow in the dark arm cannons.

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Vincent is Canadian and a raving Cyclops apologist and a lover of all things geek Marvel and Star Wars are his specialty. He is well versed in DC, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. He's always wanted to be a writer and Do You Even Comic Book? is his first foray into that adventure.

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