Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2: Choices drops this week in the paperback format and it’s somewhat sad. This collection captures some of Brian Michael Bendis’ last issues with Marvel and the character writing of Riri is excellent. This collection also builds on her relationship with the Tony Stark A.I. as well as details the time Riri became the ruler of Latveria. Really.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Riri Williams has new armor technology that just might change the face of the Marvel Universe forever… if she survives the experience. The biggest story in comics starts to unfold right here.
Why does this matter?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The bonding between Riri and Tony’s A.I. is quite strong in this collection. It’s easy to forget Riri is just a kid. Hell, she becomes Queen of a nation in this volume, but her kind, do-gooder heart is always intact. This of course isn’t the best point of view in the heat of battle and the Stark A.I. tries to keep her aware of her surroundings and being a superhero. He, of course, has been through a lot and has much to teach her. She’s also super smart so it makes sense she can push back on the Stark A.I. and even surprise it.
In a key scene, Tony Stark’s A.I. Friday and the Stark A.I. have a little conversation. This convo shifts when Mary Jane shows up, who is a bit concerned two computer intelligences were arguing. Is this the end of mankind as we know it? Friday makes some interesting points about the Stark A.I. and how it’s concerning it thinks like a person but isn’t constrained by a human body. It may quip and be all about helping Riri, but we probably shouldn’t trust it.
Customary of Bendis’s work, the banter is quite good too. If you’ve read a Brian Michael Bendis comic you know the man loves to write dialogue and banter, and it’s great here partly because Riri gets in over her head a lot, but also because she’s not afraid to question the super intelligence of the Stark A.I. For all intents and purposes, Bendis writes this A.I. like it’s Tony in every way, which means we get some flippant attitude, frustration, and personality elements that allow Riri to riff in natural ways.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The Latveria story has the right level of importance to give this story some meaning, but it also seems very apart from the regular shenanigans of the universe and the character herself. It throws Riri into the deep end of the pool when an international story is probably unnecessary. She’s still getting her feet wet and the idea is good, but it seems to be so far removed from familiar characters and the characters own journey that it’s a bit much.
Is it good?
This is a solid collection that allows Riri to come into her own as a hero, but also develop a relationship with the Stark A.I. that may not be as reliable as we thought. It’s also a good place to jump on for Bendis’ final story arc that will reveal where Tony Stark is located.
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