“it's the thing they said they wish they'd done more of —”
July 6, 2016 5:02 PM   Subscribe

A Starkly Different Iron Man: Black, Female, And 15 Years Old [NPR.org] Her name is Riri Williams. She reverse-engineered her own version of the Iron Man battlesuit in her MIT dorm room, got kicked out, and struck out on her own to do the superhero thing. Clumsily at first, but she's learning fast. So fast she's impressing Tony Stark, who's questioning his status as the Marvel Universe's go-to, super-powered Campbell's soup can. Readers first met her in the March issue of Invincible Iron Man.

Interview in TIME with Brian Michael Bendis, who's writing both that Iron Man title and this summer's comics crossover event, Civil War II.
TIME: Marvel Comics’ diverse new cast has stirred some controversy among a subset of fans.
Brian Michael Bendis: Some of the comments online, I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound. I’m not saying if you criticize you’re a racist, but if someone writes, “Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles?” that’s a weird thing to say. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. All I can do is state my case for the character, and maybe they’ll realize over time that that’s not the most progressive thinking. But increasingly we see less and less of that. Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit and female Thor hit—there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love. I think what’s most important is that the character is created in an organic setting. We never had a meeting saying, “we need to create this character.” It’s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture.
posted by Fizz (67 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
YES, YES YES!?! MORE OF THIS!?! YES!!!!
posted by Fizz at 5:05 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


New Marvel; it's like Daria on steroids. This is going to be some really great stuff for today's youf to grow up with.
posted by buzzman at 5:09 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am startled, delughted and suspicious. She's gonna take a backseat in a few months, right? Tony will be back in charge in no time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is great news, but where are the rest of the Crystal Gems?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:16 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


!!!!!!!!!!!! I love this so much!
posted by Deoridhe at 5:16 PM on July 6, 2016


Wish they'd hired a black woman to write her, though.
posted by eamondaly at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


Not a big fan of Bendis, generally, but cautiously quite excited about this. Seems like a cool character with a cool premise who will shake up a pretty dull title.

Been having way too much fun today reminding the all too predictable "I'm not racist but Tony Stark is the one true Iron Man" crowd that Rhodey was Iron Man 30 years ago when Tony was a useless drunk.
posted by davros42 at 5:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


Super excited for RIRI !
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2016


Diversity in comics is good, but I'm with eamondaly - more diversity in comics creators will be even better.

That said, Riri looks frigging awesome.
posted by Mooski at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


For the first time since middle school, I'm excited about American comics. Finally, finally, between Ms. Marvel and the new Thor and the new Iron (Wo)Man I'm willing to consider spending money on this stuff instead of doing solely anime. I have no idea why it took so long, but hallelujah!
posted by Ahniya at 5:32 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Reading Riri's origin story made me think of this.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:41 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to abuse the edit function, so I'll post this tweet from Star Simpson herself.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:42 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Finally, finally, between Ms. Marvel and the new Thor and the new Iron (Wo)Man I'm willing to consider spending money on this stuff instead of doing solely anime

Don't forget Squirrel Girl!
posted by aubilenon at 5:44 PM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


I wonder if we'd get more of this if writers could actually let their characters age, change, and even where appropriate die, at least over long periods of time. Of course there would be different faces to the genius tech wizard knight, and of course some of them should be women and/or black.
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:50 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Can we fast track her into the movies? I feel like I missed the boat on comics decades before I was born, but I kinda like some of the films.
posted by mrgoat at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2016


I wonder if we'd get more of this if writers could actually let their characters age, change, and even where appropriate die, at least over long periods of time.

Change from the corporate level would also help further this along. We need more diversity in the boardroom, so that they actively seek out these kinds of writers, stories, ideas, etc.
posted by Fizz at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wish they'd hired a black woman to write her, though.

Bendis' commitment to diverse characters is admirable and more than what most white male writers are doing, but I wish Marvel would hire more women and POCs to create these characters, yeah.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:08 PM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Tony Stark?! I think you mean Tony Stank.

For the first time since middle school, I'm excited about American comics. Finally, finally, between Ms. Marvel and the new Thor and the new Iron (Wo)Man I'm willing to consider spending money on this stuff instead of doing solely anime. I have no idea why it took so long, but hallelujah!

Totally with you. While you are at your local comic book shop, take a look at the new versions of Vision and Black Panther. And if you're a horror fan, check out Harrow County.
posted by NoMich at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Harrow County is a fun, poor-south witchcraft tale that has the benefit of having southern dialogue that's natural enough that I don't want to punch the person who wrote it.

Cullen Bunn's an actual southerner, which helps (even Garth Ennis writes better southern dialogue than most northerners do) but even some from the south can't help throwing extra gravy on their characters and it's even more annoying when they do.

It's wonderfully written and drawn. Creepy as hell.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:35 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


The best thing about this is that it provides more evidence that titles like the Ms. Marvel and the new Thor are selling. Marvel isn't running a charity, and hopefully the financial success of these titles will create a positive feedback loop.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:38 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


If only the MCU was as daring as Marvel's artists.

Mr. Feige, the ball is in your court.
posted by qcubed at 6:55 PM on July 6, 2016


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?
posted by Fizz at 7:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

Isn't Batman's whole character basically that he has an incredible amount of privilege and uses it to get away with all kinds of ridiculous shit for good?
posted by aubilenon at 7:06 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not the "official" Batman, but there are some minorities in the Batmen of All Nations/Batman Inc.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:09 PM on July 6, 2016


If only the MCU was as daring as Marvel's artists.

Mr. Feige, the ball is in your court.


Supposedly the MCU was being held back in that regard by their CEO Ike Putterman, whom Feige reported to. Putterman sounds like a piece of work, not letting female MCU characters be made into toys, racist comments, etc.

But there's been a split in the last year, with Feige now reporting directly to the Disney CEO, Putterman no longer having final say so over the movies, so changes may be happening, but they'll take several years to show up in the movies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 PM on July 6, 2016


If you want gay Batman with a sense of humor and maybe a touch more brutal, the recently canceled Midnighter series was really good. They're going to do a miniseries soon with him and Apollo, AKA More Interesting Gay Superman, his ex-boyfriend.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

On an old hard drive somewhere, I have some pretty extensive outlines for a piece of fanfic involving a kid from the Gotham projects whose parents are killed in a robbery gone bad and who grows up to be a vigilante. He doesn't work with Gotham PD, who were worthless when his parents were killed and who make no distinction between him and literally anybody else on the streets solving their problems with their fists. The upshot of it is that this character is a kind of Muddy Waters to Batman's Elvis, if you will, except of course that only Batman is allowed to live outside the law, in Batman's worldview, so they are mortal enemies. Batman, and the good people of Gotham, have literally no ability to consider that others also have good reasons to go outside the law, so there is a showdown.

I should really write that story up.
posted by gauche at 7:36 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


Harrow County is a fun, poor-south witchcraft tale that has the benefit of having southern dialogue that's natural enough that I don't want to punch the person who wrote it.

Cullen Bunn's an actual southerner, which helps (even Garth Ennis writes better southern dialogue than most northerners do) but even some from the south can't help throwing extra gravy on their characters and it's even more annoying when they do.


Harrow County takes place in a fictional county in Western North Carolina. Cullen Bunn grew up in the real Western North Carolina, so that helps quite a bit with the realism. The guy that recommended this series to me is one of the co-owners of Raleigh's Foundations Edge comic book shop and he grew up in Western North Carolina. He described the series as "my people" and that was good enough for me.
posted by NoMich at 7:42 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


RI. Williams. RI. WILLIAMS.

(By "violent" they mean people argued vehemently and in good faith, as Roger Williams would never raise a hand to anyone who believed differently than he did. Dude literally rowed his own self 30 miles to debate, not imprison or torture or kill, tho it was in his power, but argue earnestly and sincerely.)

Riri not Rhodey? Who cares? We know what is meant.

Yes. This is good.

(Sometime we need to talk about slavery in South County, RI. It was a forebear to Southern Chattel slavery. Yes, one little smudge on the map can contain the best and worst of us.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:07 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fizz: "Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?"

aubilenon: "Isn't Batman's whole character basically that he has an incredible amount of privilege and uses it to get away with all kinds of ridiculous shit for good?"

Yes. And? There are black people with privilege, it's not like being black automatically excludes you from being Batman. Makes it way less likely? Sure. But comics are all about unlikely stuff. As long as it's possible, you can do it.

Also, I'm thinking Black Panther has like a billion times more privilege than Batman, anyway. If you have a hard time imagining a black American Batman, there are many other countries where a rich black businessman could be killed and his son could become a goth ninja dressed like a flying rat.
posted by Bugbread at 8:26 PM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

The "Just Imagine" series by DC, where Stan Lee reimagined their signature heroes, included a black man as Batman.

In continuity, though? Just the Club of Heroes/Batmen of All Nations/Batman Inc./whatever they're going to be called next.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:27 PM on July 6, 2016


"a goth ninja dressed like a flying rat"

That may be the best description of Batman I've ever read.

I'm super happy to hear that Feige is now reporting to Disney. Why? Because Disney knows that women have money and will spend it on things they like. This is something the previous head of Marvel Studios apparently had trouble grasping. Even if mercenary calculation is the only way forward for gender and racial equality, I'll take it.
posted by Ahniya at 9:00 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Supposedly the MCU was being held back in that regard by their CEO Ike Putterman, whom Feige reported to. Putterman sounds like a piece of work, not letting female MCU characters be made into toys, racist comments, etc.

Ike Perlmutter (not Putterman) is in fact a pretty awful person and the MCU can only be better off for his absence. The word as far as I'm aware is that Perlmutter is the sole reason we don't yet have a Black Widow solo film, despite the fact that everyone in the viewing audience (and also Scarlet Johansson) wants one. Hopefully that nonsense can get corrected, and of course we have Captain Marvel to look forward to as well.

Also, I think it would be a really good idea for them to run a Kamala Khan movie some time shortly after Infinity War wraps up, as a sort of intro to a second generation of Marvel films. The MCU has been building to the Infinity War at least since the first Thor/second Iron Man, and the closure of that saga will thus represent an end to an arc that by the end will have run for nearly a decade. The real world isn't really a place anymore where most people are completely oblivious to superheroes; we live in a world where my mom knows who Rocket Raccoon is. Kamala is a cool entry point without a lot of backstory and baggage and who gets to enter the superhero world while already knowing things about it; her movie could rely on people understanding the broad strokes of superhero stuff and play with the inherent silliness of the fandom a bit too. There are people aging into the primary consumer group who were far too young to be buying tickets to stuff when these things started, after all.
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

In "Crisis on Infinite Earths" we are introduced to many parallel universes, and in one of them (Earth-D) Superman is black. He died in that story when his universe was destroyed, but my understanding that he un-died at some point and that he has since appeared in recent comics under the name "Calvin Ellis" (Kal-El) All of that is canon.

Black Superman: not an imaginary story!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:58 PM on July 6, 2016


The best thing about this is that it provides more evidence that titles like the Ms. Marvel and the new Thor are selling.

Is there any writing on the effect of tablets and online comic purchases on the gender make-up and other diversity aspects of buyers? It feels like it should be making the audience deeper and more diverse, from my anecdotal observation, but I'd be interested to know if there are numbers that back that up.

There are black people with privilege

But, crucially, none with white privilege. Which isn't an argument against a Batman who isn't such an exemplar of every form of privilege, but does mean that writing that version of the character well would require engaging with the ways they were not privileged. It would be a tougher job, and that would be an even stronger argument for employing a writer with personal experience of being part of that non-privileged group.
posted by howfar at 12:11 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've never read Harrow County, but I do enjoy Jason Aaron & Jason Latour's Southern Bastards. Mind you, I'm English, so for all I know that's a book which real Southerners hate. I'd be interested to hear what middleclasstool and NoMich make of it.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:14 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


In "Crisis on Infinite Earths" we are introduced to many parallel universes, and in one of them (Earth-D) Superman is black. He died in that story when his universe was destroyed, but my understanding that he un-died at some point and that he has since appeared in recent comics under the name "Calvin Ellis" (Kal-El) All of that is canon.

Well....sort of. Many years after Crisis was published, a special one-shot interquel story was done showing a parallel world where superheroes were much more ethnically diverse, including a married Superman and Supergirl who were black.

Much later, inspired by Alex Ross's poster of Obama as a superhero, Grant Morrison introduced Calvin Ellis, an African-American president of the United States from a parallel world who was secretly his world's Superman.
posted by kewb at 3:06 AM on July 7, 2016


About the best thing that can be said about Isaac Perlmutter is that he arguably saved Marvel from Ron Perelman. In turn, Disney saved Marvel Studios from Perlmutter last year by taking him out of the decision loop, although he still supervises Jeph Loeb, who supervises Marvel TV.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:28 AM on July 7, 2016


Which is weird as hell, because Agents of Shield has some best portrayals of women in Marvel, period.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Omg one more yes to this, I will purchase the HECK out of this.
posted by greenish at 7:33 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?
Batman Pobre, or Poor Batman
posted by Tom-B at 7:52 AM on July 7, 2016


I've never read Harrow County, but I do enjoy Jason Aaron & Jason Latour's Southern Bastards. Mind you, I'm English, so for all I know that's a book which real Southerners hate. I'd be interested to hear what middleclasstool and NoMich make of it.

I have every single issue of that. It gets a touch self-consciously southern at times, and the whole "no air conditioning and beer-stained wife beaters as far as the eye can see" southern setting is getting a little cartoonishly overplayed to me, but I've been in towns like that and it's not far off of what I've seen. Aaron's a heck of a writer too.

I have yet to try the recipes in the back of each issue, but it is on my list to do.

His "The Goddamned" is great too. It's sort of like the old testament rewritten with that same dirty south aesthetic. Noah's a real asshole in it.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:12 AM on July 7, 2016


Wow, I went off a read some more on Ike Perlmutter. I knew that there had been creative differences between Marvel Studios and Marvel proper, but it seems like Perlmutter caused a lot of issues.

According to The Financial Times, when Don Cheadle was hired at a much cheaper rate to replace Terrence Howard in the Iron Man franchise, Perlmutter allegedly told former chairman of Disney consumer products Andy Mooney that no one would notice because black people “look the same.”
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:14 AM on July 7, 2016


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

The Tick live-action TV show had Batmanuel.
posted by FJT at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Has there ever been a version of Batman as a visible minority?

I remember a Batman comic book from the 70s [Batman, ish 250 -ed] with a short B-story at the end where Bruce Wayne takes a group of underprivileged kids camping. They take turns describing what they think Batman is like. One of the kids is black, and so is his version of Batman.

I'm not offering this as a "See? There are Super Heroes Of Color!" It was only a few panels. But it's an instance I remember, which had an impact on me. When I read it as a kid it planted the seed of awareness about representation in my brain.

There's a pic and some discussion of that story a little past halfway down this page.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:40 AM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wish they'd hired a black woman to write her, though.

I feel like this is Step 1 in a plan to make that happen. While I know there are plenty of WOC and other minorities writing/drawing/making amazing comics, I suspect that when Marvel gets resumes (Packets? Portfolios? Whatever they get when they hire), the vast majority of them come from white dudes, because those are the ones who grew up seeing themselves in comics and therefore fell in love with the industry. If we can get some better representation on the newsstands, surely that will lead, in time, to greater representation in the studios. Not to say that that means Marvel should just wait for more underrepresented people to apply - there is no reason they shouldn't make a concerted effort to start seeking them out.

Also, I feel like the inspiration for her name comes from RiRi and Williams.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2016


I remember a Batman comic book from the 70s [Batman, ish 250 -ed] with a short B-story at the end where Bruce Wayne takes a group of underprivileged kids camping. They take turns describing what they think Batman is like. One of the kids is black, and so is his version of Batman.

Because Grant Morrison loves obscure continuity, the Batwings of Batman #250 inspired Batwing, the Batman of Africa.
posted by zamboni at 9:16 AM on July 7, 2016


While I know there are plenty of WOC and other minorities writing/drawing/making amazing comics, I suspect that when Marvel gets resumes (Packets? Portfolios? Whatever they get when they hire), the vast majority of them come from white dudes, because those are the ones who grew up seeing themselves in comics and therefore fell in love with the industry.

Yeah, but clearly not seeing themselves in superhero comics hasn't stopped minority kids from growing up and making comics. They're just not making superhero comics. Which is fine for comics generally, but maybe the superhero publishers should consider some active outreach rather than just writing off a good portion of the current generation of creators.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


His "The Goddamned" is great too. It's sort of like the old testament rewritten with that same dirty south aesthetic. Noah's a real asshole in it.

Sold! I see the first TPB is due in October, so I shall catch up with it then.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2016


I tend to think of Batman having a particular kind of privilege that goes with being white, male, and wealthy. Not just rich but "old money". His money is a big part of his power set, but so is the infrastructure of power that he gets access to via the Wayne name and history. It it possible to have someone in the USA like that without the rich-white-male trifecta? Probably, but it takes stretching.

That said, his current presumptive heir, Damian Wayne is half Middle-Eastern (I can't pin down al Ghul better than that), and Dick Greyson, who's taken up the mantle in some alternate futures or as a stopgap is sometimes coded as Romani (varies wildly among authors).

There's at least one elseworlds series where the entire Justice League is non-white, so the answer to "Has there ever been a version of any DC hero as a visible minority?" is pretty much going to be yes, just based on that. Not to mention the one where they're all Samurai in Feudal Japan, and so forth.

Of the DC "Trinity" I actually think Batman is the one most tied to whiteness because of the old money thing.

Superman is white-passing (also human-passing but let's not get into that), but there's no narrative need for a kid whose adoptive family works a small farm and grows up to become a plucky reporter to be any particular race. (Demographically, you might move the farm from Kansas to something a bit south or east, but that's not even really necessary).

Wonder Woman should by history be either Scythian (Eurasian nomad) or anything Mediterranean or North African, but she's technically a statue given life by the gods as a favor to her mother and has a black sister born the same way, so her ethnicity should be pretty wide open, too.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2016


So. The guy who aggressively hunted down and destroyed his leaked technology, causing deaths and destroying government property in the process, the guy who was the leader of the movement to require governmental registration and training of all superhumans and superpowered tech users not long ago... HE'S the one who'll approve of the teenager whose first attempt at reverse-engineered-Stark-tech-powered armor heroics is basically reckless endangerment with possible fatalities and shrugged off by her with "whoops, my bad?"

Did I miss a memo?
posted by delfin at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2016


Superman is white-passing (also human-passing but let's not get into that), but there's no narrative need for a kid whose adoptive family works a small farm and grows up to become a plucky reporter to be any particular race.

Icon.
posted by Etrigan at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did I miss a memo?

These characters exist and have epic adventures for decades. Over that much time, they build up so much baggage that you end up having to leave a lot of it behind if you want to keep writing new stories.
posted by VTX at 10:36 AM on July 7, 2016


Not sure I've ever said "Good job, Bendis" before. Not without sarcasm, anyway.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2016


These characters exist and have epic adventures for decades. Over that much time, they build up so much baggage that you end up having to leave a lot of it behind if you want to keep writing new stories.

Okay, then. The guy who _right now_ is at the forefront of a major Marvel event registering vast concern over a new young person with superpowers, a clairvoyant whose visions led to Jim Rhodes's death, to the point where he literally kidnaps the young man and subjects him to involuntary scientific experimentation?

He's going to take the news of another young person in this same timeframe, this one clearly imitating himself, inserting herself into crimefighting with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball at all well? This is why Tony has SHIELD on speed-dial, to forewarn them that he's dropping off a suit of armor whose pilot they should have a long chat with.
posted by delfin at 11:06 AM on July 7, 2016


On an unrelated note (and yes this is very very early in Riri's career and we don't have to throw everything at her at once), I'm hoping that at some point she gets to meet Tilda Johnson, formerly Deadly Nightshade, currently reformed and assisting the new Nighthawk in crimefighting.

As a woman of color who got no respect for self-taught science without corresponding degrees, an expert in robotics and electrical engineering and a teenaged participant in the cape game (albeit from the villain side), she'd have some interesting perspectives on Riri's potential.
posted by delfin at 11:23 AM on July 7, 2016


I think I'm too cynical, or maybe I've seen too many "dramatic" changes in comics, but I'm confident that she will have a run of maybe, if we're lucky, five or ten issues before they put Tony back into the armor and she's relegated to (at best) a supporting role in his comic.
posted by sotonohito at 11:28 AM on July 7, 2016


Look, if you consider a character's past every time they do something new, everything they do will be questionable.

Which is to say, yes you're absolutely correct that in no way shape or form should anyone expect positive outcomes when someone with Tony's past decisions is involved. But that's true any time any top tier character does anything.

Did Ant-man create a killer robot so powerful the Avengers couldn't defeat it just so that he could swoop in and save the day? He put the entire planet in peril to stroke his own ego and yet this man is allowed to keep participating in...anything?

Realistically, every single top tier comic book super-hero should probably be in prison for the crimes they've committed or at least locked away for the public's safety.

That's just kind of the way cannon works with comics. You get a writer who wants to tell a certain kind of story but things that character have done in the past conflicts too much with the story they're trying to tell so the writer just ignores it to varying degrees.
posted by VTX at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2016


Did I miss a memo?

Possibly; some of the irondickery that you list compelled me to ignore most of the mainstream Marvel stuff for about the last decade or so, save for the major events, and even those mostly just concerning the few characters and creators that I care about. But I can easily imagine that Tony may want to rethink a lot of what he's done in the past. And, yeah, it may only be a temporary change, but who knows. (Me, I'm still hoping that they eventually replace the Sam Alexander Nova--who, tribute to Jeph Loeb's late son or no, is as dull as dust--with this version.

Not sure I've ever said "Good job, Bendis" before.

He's done really good work before--the early arcs of Powers, most of his Ultimate Spider-Man run, ditto for his Daredevil run--but he's also done some pretty bad work simultaneously or directly adjacent to the better stuff. There's no real rhyme or reason to it that I can see.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:37 AM on July 7, 2016


VTX, I get what you're saying and I don't want to be That Guy who yells "But Tony Stark had THIS line of dialogue in a guest appearance in Marvel Team-Up in 1973, therefore all subsequent evidence of other thoughts is INVALID and STRICKEN FROM CONTINUITY!" I'm just saying that his looking favorably on Riri, barring further developments, is contradictory to Tony's old worldview AND Tony's current worldview.

It's early yet and AFAIK the two haven't even met yet. We'll see.
posted by delfin at 11:47 AM on July 7, 2016


I guess what I'm saying is that a character's worldview can and does shift with the writer and the story they want to tell.

I agree with you that he shouldn't look favorably on her, that he does is why I have a hard time reading comics despite my love for the characters and the world they live in.

It's rare for a whole week to go by without a MCU movie getting watched at my house but I haven't been able to read the comics for years because of exactly the disconnect you mention.
posted by VTX at 11:58 AM on July 7, 2016


He's done really good work before--the early arcs of Powers, most of his Ultimate Spider-Man run, ditto for his Daredevil run--but he's also done some pretty bad work simultaneously or directly adjacent to the better stuff. There's no real rhyme or reason to it that I can see.

My impression is that Bendis simply does too much stuff at any one time to maintain quality control. I'd be surprised if any other single writer has churned out as many books as he has in the past 30 years or so. Some of them, as you say, are very good.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:00 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am pretty damned cynical and I realize that Bendis has issues and the execution of this series will likely be flawed. However.

Having spent decades consuming scifi, fantasy, and other media and, as a queer black person, only ever finding myself in the margins of the text (if that!); pretending that epithets like "the dark girl" or "the dark boy" meant skin color and not hair color; having to read-around and -over and -through the misogyny and racism, like picking the peanuts out of a box of Cracker Jacks* and still getting hives because of the peanut dust.

After all these damned years, of hearing stuff like "Black people don't like scifi" or "You people just don't have what it takes to succeed in science/math/engineering"**, here is a series that positions a kid just like me in the center of the story, alongside my favorite (yes, flawed; yes, sometimes written poorly; yes, often a dick) comics character. Like, for real?!

Well, then: Warts and all and (sentimental as hell as a motivation--and yeah, it is, fine, whatever) I will be buying the series as a gift to my 8 year old self from my father (himself a black scientist who had to fight to succeed) to remind that pissed off little kid, covered in hives, of what might be.

* I am allergic to peanuts
** If you didn't hear similar messages growing up, then I envy you so hard
posted by skye.dancer at 1:10 PM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


It must be noted that Riri Williams isn't the first female black kid genius to be making it in Marvel Comics right now. The 'Moon Girl' in the current Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series is "LUNELLA LAFAYETTE... a preteen super genius who wants to change the world, fearful of the monstrous INHUMAN genes inside her, whose life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call TODAY. The pair are many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up."
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:46 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


And the team on Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur are writer/artist Amy Reeder, writer Brandon Montclare and artist Natacha Bustos... that's 2 female creatives out of 3.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:48 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm just saying that his looking favorably on Riri, barring further developments, is contradictory to Tony's old worldview AND Tony's current worldview.

But the isolated superhero, finally realising that he must unbend, in order to gruffly nurture and sardonically protect the young upstart whom he resents but only because she reminds him of himself, is a narrative cliché that slots into pretty much any continuity.
posted by howfar at 2:13 AM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


And now the bad news...
as part of Marvel's ongoing practice of dividing up their hero franchises among multiple characters in series with different adjectives in the title, while Riri Williams fills the Invincible Iron Man suit and title, there's also going to be an Infamous Iron Man comic, with suit and title inhabited by evil icon Doctor Doom. (Hey, isn't he the only Marvel villain to have been defeated TWICE by the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? What is this, some kind of consolation prize??)

And speaking of Squirrel Girl, you can't really talk about female empowerment in Marvel Comics without her (although this thread has tried to), with off-the-wall writer Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics, Adventure Time Comics and Choose-Your-Own-Shakespeare Books fame) (yes, a white dude but a Canadian one), and non-dude artist Erica Henderson, making Marvel's wackiest but most flawlessly successful hero a college student (and, by retcon, NOT a Mutant) and with a supporting cast who are all non-white: her non-powered roommate and connection to semi-normalcy Nancy Whitehead and other college-aged supers Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy. And now apparently buoyed by that success, Marvel is going back to their collection of interesting past characters for a revival of "Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat", written by another webcomic veteran (but a definitely female one) Kate Leth, who is acknowledging the character's truly convoluted past (from romance comics to literally Hell) and having too much fun with it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:29 AM on July 9, 2016


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