“This is life-or-death stuff you’re training for…and I’m not messing around.”
Well, into this new year, and the fictional world is still erupting in craziness. Real life, too, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s time to throw down!
First off, picking up from Kay’s praise of the first issue, is Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man #2.
This issue continues the saga of Riri Williams, the newest contender (or pretender, depending on who you talk to) to the legacy of Tony Stark. What Brian Michael Bendis excels at here is telling a simple story. Simply put: Riri undergoes rigorous training with her Tony Stark-based A.I. system.
I was charmed to see a hero who is both intelligent, but understandably incompetent. Riri has no idea how to think on her feet in the heat of battle, but she manages a victory by the seat of her pants. She was inelegant, clumsy, and hardly what one would see as a “badass heroine,” but she got the work done the only way she knew how. Riri obviously has much to her learn,but her potential was made very clear in a very good way.
Building on the highlight of this issue was Bendis’ continued intersection of Riri’s background with her present activities. After the events of last issue, we learn the emotional hardships death has had in both Riri’s and her mother’s lives. I was almost disturbed by Riri’s questioning the doctor regarding both her stepfather and her friend’s deaths, but in a good way. It shows that Riri has depths of her personality we have yet to experience…depths that, at her age, could easily lead her to one side or the other of heroism. Near the flashback’s end, we get a simple television clip that shows Riri’s inspiration. We see what has happened in her past and her present, but Bendis is clearly building the in-between, and just how she comes to her first appearance.
Well done, Bendis.
Artist Stefano Caselli and colorist Marte Garcia continue to work their magic to make a commendable issue on a fledgling hero. The times we see Riri’s face is where Caselli excels at emoting our protagonist. She is both stoic, confused and pained, all at once in the flashback. It works so well.
I have a strong personal opinion that captions can enhance a story in many ways. It may be seen as an archaic and dying practice, but captions can aid in the reader understanding who the character is more than just what we see them do.
I feel that the absence of captions in Bendis’ work was a true detriment this time around. While I enjoyed this issue, I feel that there was a missed opportunity to truly understand Riri when it mattered most: during her training and to intersect her thoughts now with the flashback. We see much of Riri’s actions, but what about her feelings, her thoughts, her rage? For a character no one really knows about, I think she could’ve been cared about even more if Bendis were to dig into his character, to throw out those emotions to the reader.
Like I said, i think it was truly a missed opportunity to elevate an otherwise good story.
Invincible Iron Man #2 continues to pump up Riri at a good pace. Bendis wrote a great and sufficient tale of Riri’s struggles as a hero, only made better by the art by Caselli and Garcia. I do believe that Bendis really dropped the ball at the chance to provide greater depth to Riri, but the story still served to set up both the protagonist’s capabilities and the potential rogues gallery to come. I look forward to what comes next, and what improvements Bendis may bring. And I hope you do, too.