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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 11 comics last week: Amazing Spider-Man #22, Invincible Iron Man #2, Batman #11, Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds # 1, Superman #13, Doctor Strange #15, Trinity #4 Justice League/Suicide Squad #2, Justice League #11, Avengers #2.1, and Nightwing #11.
The best comic I read last week was Invincible Iron Man #2.
If the only good thing to come out of Marvel’s interminable and overwrought Civil War II (which I think started in 2012) is this new volume of Invincible Iron Man, it may all have been worth it.
Tony Stark is back (was he ever gone?) but he’s not the star of this book. The star is 15 year-old Riri Williams. She is a “super genius” who built her own working Iron Man armor and has now taken over the superheroic duties of said Tony Stark. While he’s back, he’s not really back.
It’s a shame, actually, that I began this review even mentioning Stark. The star of this book is Iron Heart – the name Riri Williams uses in the armor – and she is someone worth watching. Brian Michael Bendis is back in peak form here (he’s never, in my opinion, very far away from it) as he involves the readers in Riri’s story. And her story is very poignant in the best way. Her background is discussed as the comic effortlessly weaves narrative flashbacks in with current action. Bendis, as he has shown consistently in his work on X-Men and Spider-Man, has a real flair for writing teenagers. That shows here. He also creates good dynamics between parents and their children and that, too, is front-and-center in this book.
Stefano Caselli and Marte Garcia are on point as the art team. Though I would like the flashbacks to be a little more differentiated from the main story, that’s a small quibble. Their characters are discernible, their action well drawn and they wring just enough emotion from the proceedings to support Bendis’ script.
Though I remain skeptical about the “loss” of Tony Stark, I am all-in on the addition of Riri Williams. Invincible Iron Man goes back to the top of the virtual reading stack for me!