Yesterday, Marvel announced that Tony Stark would be walking away from his latest suit of power armor. His replacement is going to be Riri Williams, a genius MIT student who isn’t old enough to drink yet. (So no “Demon in a Bottle” storyline for her, I guess.)
Riri Williams first appeared was in a subplot that started months ago in Invincible Iron Man #6. Her initial scenes showed work well underway on a prototype suit of armor, cobbled together from components she “borrowed” from the MIT campus. Making a suit of armor is noisy work and the racket didn’t endear Riri to her dorm neighbors.
Looking back on the Riri sequences from Invincible Iron Man #6-11, it becomes crystal clear that the editorial plans for her aimed at higher than her just being a sidekick or taking on the War Machine identity after James Rhodes death. She tells her friend Sharon about compulsively starting in on the armor project without knowing why, and completes it just as Tony Stark’s long absence from the public eye starts making headlines.
Campus security interrupts their little chat and Riri fires up the boot jets on her Gundam-inflected creation for the first time.
Her first actual instance of do-gooding happened in this week’s Invincible Iron Man #11, when she stops a pair of prisoners escaping from a New Mexico prison.
So far, Riri’s personality has been shown to harbor a few elements that echo that of Tony Stark. She seems to impulsively do what she wants and isn’t that great when it comes to thinking about consequences. That’s believably understandable for a teenager with an intelligence that’s put her on the fast track to success. Superheroing is a whole other sort of challenge, though, and it’ll be interesting to see who, if anyone, will serve as a mentor to Riri.
Given his recurring-character status in Invincible Iron Man and helmet-holding pose in the recent Marvel Now teaser poster, Victor Von Doom would be a likely candidate. Sure, he used to (?) be one of the world’s most ominous supervillains, but who better to serve as teacher to an upstart hero than someone who regularly got his butt kicked by the biggest world-savers? Mentoring Riri would also arguably earn Victor some goodwill from the hero community.
There’s still a few months to go before Riri takes on the starring role in the next volume of Invincible Iron Man, a time period that will show Tony Stark dealing with personal and financial crises and Marvel’s heroes aligning into new configurations. Hopefully, we’ll see why Riri deserves to jump so quickly to the head of the pack of the publisher’s A-list characters.
Update: Comic Book Resources has a look at the armor Riri will be wearing in the next volume of Invincible Iron Man.