In July, TIME reported that Tony Stark would be stepping out of the Iron Man suit, and Riri Williams would be Marvel Comics’ new Iron Man. Now, Marvel and Invincible Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis are offering a sneak-peek at her story.
Riri Williams grows up in Chicago before suffering a personal tragedy. She eventually attends M.I.T., where Tony Stark first hears that she’s reverse engineered one of the old Iron Man armors in her dorm room. In the new panels, the audience gets a glimpse at Riri’s early childhood when her parents first discover that she’s a “super genius.”
“She’s smarter than Tony,” says Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Invincible Iron Man. In the story, an educator tells a young Riri’s parents that they not only need to nurture her intelligence but ensure that she doesn’t become jaded with the world. “
“My wife and I always thought that was one of our jobs as parents.But then I discovered, through research, that it is a thing that gifted children need desperately,” says Bendis. “As we say in the story: high intellects, out of frustration, can sometimes retreat into their own world. This young woman has had that burden but she also has a grounded parent who helped her get to this point. But she also has had terrible tragedy that has informed her more than anything.”
“Some of the intellectual characters at Marvel get to the point where they want to conquer the world and make it over in their own image,” says Bendis. “The fact that Riri, even after all she has been through, does not makes her mother the hero of this story. And we need to celebrate that kind of thing more anyhow.”
Marvel has recently won praise and sparked controversy by diversifying its array of characters to look more like “the world outside your window,” including the addition of Riri Williams. In the past several years, Marvel has handed Thor’s hammer to a woman, introduced a black and Hispanic Spider-Man in Miles Morales and created Kamala Khan, a Muslim superhero who uses the name Ms. Marvel.
Marvel also announced at San Diego Comic-Con this year that famous novelist and social commentator Roxane Gay would join Yona Harvey and Afua Richardson will be writing stories for the upcoming comic book World of Wakanda, a sister series to Black Panther (a comic currently being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates).