Riri Williams is a teenage genius from the mean streets of Chicago who reverse-engineered Tony Stark’s Iron Man design to built her own advanced suit of armor which she now utilized as the superhero called Ironheart, while she’s also attending classes at M.I.T. The issue opens with school’s Dean bringing a visiting delegation of foreign leaders to the lab that RiRi uses on the school’s campus so that she can show off some of the inventions that she’s working on. This sequence is perfect in that it not only showcases the somewhat adversarial relationship that RiRi has with the Dean, a development that I’m sure will be a factor in future stories, it also established that while she may be a scientific genius RiRi is not perfect. She is still a somewhat socially awkward teenager, which so many of us can relate to. There are also hints at tragedy in RiRi’s background, as we learn that she lost two people whom she deeply cared about to gun violence.
The scene later switches to nearby Harvard, where those diplomats were attending an important summit which is attacked by a supervillain named Clash. RiRi dons her armor and races to the scene. It turns out that Clash is a also a scientific genius, with a connection to a famous Marvel hero, which means that he’s not someone RiRi will be able to beat with sheer brute force, and must instead utilize her brains to figure out how to defeat him. The issue ends with a surprising cliffhanger.
This is a decent first issue which introduces readers to the lead character and her world. In addition to the Dean, we also meet a couple of RiRi’s fellow students and a potential love interest from back home. Eve L. Ewing writes RiRi’s dialog well, making her feel like a real person, especially during the sequence in which she is having a phone conversation with that aforementioned love interest. It reads like you are really eavesdropping on a couple of teenagers talking to each other. That being said there are some pacing issues I noticed, in the way that phone conversation takes place after the long action sequence, which seems like it would have been a better note to end the issue. I guess I could attribute this to Ewing being a newbie when it comes to comic-book writing. I was also a tad disappointed that RiRi’s identity as Ironheart is a public matter, which I know is common to superheroes lately, but I think a good old fashioned “secret identity” could add some good drama to the series. But it is what it is.
The art team of Kevin Libranda and Luciano Vecchio do a very good job, especially in avoiding the modern tendency to draw all female comic-book characters, regardless of age, as sexy bombshells. While attractive, RiRi still looks like a teenager, which I’m glad to see.
Ironheart #1 is a fun tale for all-ages. B+