While Riri ponders her next move, there’s a new face at Stark. Are you ready for Tony Stark’s mother?
No, not that mother… Your Major Spoilers review of Invincible Iron Man #3 awaits!
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Invincible Iron Man: In the wake of Civil War II, Tony Stark is seemingly dead. He has left his legacy in the hands of Riri Williams, a brilliant young woman who built her own Iron Man armor off the internet. Thanks to an A.I. programmed with Stark’s brain-mind, Riri is working on getting her act together as the new Invincible Iron Man, name-change pending…
We open at Stark (which no longer seems to be an “Enterprises” or an “Industries”, but merely Stark), where the new CEO, Mr. Lynch is once again throwing his weight around. He leans hard on Mary Jane Watson, Tony’s former executive assistant, forcing MJ and the hologram that runs the place to take him to meet the new person in charge: Tony’s mother. Or, to be more specific, the birth mother whom he never knew until recently, who is also a musician calling herself Amanda Strong. Amanda quickly shuts down Lynch’s bully-boy tactics and gets down to basics: She, Mary Jane and Friday are going to do some good with Tony’s money and ideas. First on her agenda is figuring out how to deal with the sudden dearth of Iron Men, with Tony and James Rhodes both on the DL. (Deceased List, which is about as permanent for superheroes as the injury list is for professional athletes.) The second half of the issue is a running dialogue between Riri and her A.I. version of Tony, seemingly taking place over multiple battles, at least one of which is clearly part of Monsters Unleashed. At the end of the conversation (however long that took, there’s no real clue in the issue) Riri finds that she’s been followed by another armored woman: Pepper Potts, the hero known as Rescue!
There are a lot of really inspired bits of dialogue in here, from Pepper’s response to Tony-as-AI to Amanda’s effortless shut-down of Lynch’s attitude, but the pacing is maddening. Riri’s first mission in her new armor (which, disappointingly, is little more than a scaled-down version of Tony’s Iron Man suit) being more than one mission seems like an idea that could have worked, but the execution here simply does not. It’s unclear how long a time the issue covers, and the arrival of Pepper and a sudden last-page enemy feels crammed in at the last second. Caselli’s art is wonderful throughout the issue, though, and even the parts where the story/plotting fails work visually. Special note should be made of Pepper’s arrival, hovering in the mid-air and dryly remarking that she’s been following Riri since New York, a moment that makes Rescue seems like a legitimate first-tier superhero badass for perhaps the first time…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A BIT MEANDERY FOR MY TASTES
All in all, this is issue succeeds in imparting character to the women of its cast, and the fact that all of the main characters ARE women works to the story’s advantage, but like so many Bendis stories, the plot gets sidetracked by long sequences of dialogue. Invincible Iron Man #3 is still a very likeable issue though, and the art is first-rate from cover to cover, with promises of an interesting conflict next time around, earning a better than average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I still wish Ms. Williams got her own armor design rather than a compact version of Tony’s, though…