This week on The Marvel Rundown, we say goodbye to Riri Williams’ first solo series with Ironheart #12, which concludes a period of major growth for the fan-favorite character.
Then, the Dawn of X initiative continues with the latest issue of New Mutants! The newly-reformed original team has traveled into space to retrieve their final member—and ended up as enemies of the Shi’ar empire!
We’ve got reviews of those titles, plus a Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel releases for the week, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Eve L. Ewing
Finished art by Luciano Vecchio
Layouts by Geoffo
Colored by Matt Milla
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Luciano Vecchio
Reviewed by Samantha Puc
Riri Williams has done a lot of growing up over the last year, with the help of writer Eve L. Ewing, artist Luciano Vecchio, layout designer Geoffo, colorist Matt Milla, and letterer Clayton Cowles. In her first solo title, she faced past trauma and dealt with new blows, all while questioning the caliber of her character and her right to call herself a hero. Riri is no longer under Tony Stark’s shadow; she’s more than a girl genius, more than a tragic figure; she’s Ironheart, and in issue #12, she fully comes into the title and begins to accept the disparate parts of her.
Ironheart chronicles Riri’s life during a period of major transition. She’s attempting to study at MIT even though the dean won’t give her a moment’s peace; she’s doing her best to protect her hometown of Chicago even while trying to protect Boston, too; and she’s being low-key recruited by the Ten Rings, a terrorist organization hiding a lot of ugly secrets, some of which are deeply personal for our girl. It’s a lot of pressure, and there are moments when Riri falters beneath the weight — but rather than making her seem weak, it just makes her seem more human.
Ewing writes Riri as a smart-mouthed teenager with a chip on her shoulder that she wants to shake off, but can’t. She represses her emotions, pours herself into her work, and generally refuses to acknowledge the fact that it’s possible to be both terrified and courageous at the same time. By issue #12, her life has been turned upside-down again, and when she gets a glimpse of what her future could be, it alters her whole perspective. The end of this series feels like a definitive end to this part of Riri’s life; however, there are just enough loose threads to suggest multiple possibilities for creators to weave new tales, taking Riri’s growth and applying it toward her future.
It’s sad to see this series end. From the jump, it’s clear that Ewing and Vecchio, in particular, are deeply committed to this character and having a ton of fun with her story, which shines through even in weaker issues. Guest appearances from Miles Morales, Nadia van Dyne, Princess Shuri, Silhouette, and Midnight’s Fire shore up a core cast consisting of Riri and her closest loved ones, keeping her connected to the larger Marvel Universe even as she buries herself in work to avoid all the things that make her question her place in it.
This series feels grounded and real, even with the mythical elements, which is quite a feat. The creative team deserves applause not just for telling an interesting story, but for managing to pack so much character growth into a very action-packed series with an intense villain plot. This series will absolutely be missed.
If you’ve been following Ironheart, this issue is a definite BUY. If you haven’t, I encourage you to pick up the first trade, which is available now, and then grab the second when it hits stores in January. This story is worth your attention and your cash! Don’t miss out.
Final Verdict: BUY!
New Mutants #2
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated & Colored by Rod Reis
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Design Work by Tom Muller
Cover by Rod Reis
Reviewed by Nick Kazden
From the very first page to the final panel, there’s something so intoxicatingly special about New Mutants #2, it’s impossible to put down.
Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis, currently tackling pencils, inks and colors on the book, have turned the second issue in this relaunched series into one of the most charming, funny comics of the year. The New Mutants’ search for their old friend Sam Guthrie, a.k.a. Cannonball, takes a slight detour as they find themselves charged in court under the care of a really good “space lawyer.” Even for casual fans who aren’t fully immersed in these characters’ long, interconnected histories or the intricacies of the Shi’ar Empire the crew is interacting with, there’s so much light-hearted cheer and well-crafted dialogue that it serves as the perfect introduction to some of these lesser-known mutants and concepts as the Dawn of X continually ramps up.
While each new X-book has a core group it’s focusing on, or just Cyclops and a rotating cast in X-Men, part of what makes New Mutants so wonderful is the interplay between all of the team members. Everyone here may be a superhero, but they’re still young adults, and the way they pass the time and shoot the shit with one another reinforces the notion that this is a group of people who have gone through a lot together and are extremely comfortable with each other.
This issue is completely devoid of action sequences, but thanks to sharp dialogue and ridiculously expressive artwork, even scenes in a courtroom or around a poker table come across as full of energy and lend themselves to a feeling that anything could happen on the next page.
I’m sure the other team members will receive their moment in the sun soon enough, but so far this series almost feels like a sampler for a solo Sunspot book. Hickman’s Roberto Da Costa is so delightfully full of himself and confident that he’s the most handsome hero out there I’m still not sure if I’d rather slap him or stick by his side just to see what shenanigans he gets into next.
With the remaining X-books focusing on mutant expansion on Earth, New Mutants is stuck in the clouds for the foreseeable future, and is a strong BUY as Hickman mines the cosmos to lay the groundwork for future stories.
Final Verdict: BUY!
- Fallen Angels #2
- With Pyslocke’s mission against Apoth taking up much of Fallen Angels’ opening issue, Bryan Hill’s, Szymon Kudranski’s and Frank D’Amarta’s followup issue has more room to breathe. Each core character has an emotional moment that hints at what kind of personal challenges they’re facing, but Psylocke is still the focus here as her past with the clan is reexamined. There’s some clunky dialogue throughout — which I’ll write off to Psylocke being a bit socially awkward — and Hill’s characterization of Laura still feels slightly off, but this issue is a definite improvement over the series’ debut. Now that it’s clear all three of the major characters actually want to be near and learn things from each other, Fallen Angels’ engine feels a lot more sustainable and capable of some exciting stories. — NK
- Ashley Witter does great covers, but why is Kwannon so pale? Has the entire X-office forgotten how to color non-White characters? Even setting that issue aside, Fallen Angels still feels like the weakest story in Dawn of X, and unfortunately I don’t see that changing anytime soon. — SP
- Fantastic Four: Grand Design #2
- This is the end of Grand Design, and I’m sad because it’s once again blown me away. Tom Scioli continues to show his mastery over Jack Kirby‘s knack for dramatic storytelling, krackle, and bizarre faces. — CM
- Fantastic Four: Negative Zone #1
- While I’m not sure I loved every page, this debut issue came across with the script pacing of old school Fantastic Four. The artwork threw me off a bit with how strange Ben looks and how static and without dramatic flare each panel seemed…but maybe I had just read Grand Design too soon before! — CM
- Ghost-Spider #4
- Seanan McGuire writes a truly creepy villain, and Takeshi Miyazawa draws panels that will make all the hair on your body stand straight up. The stakes are getting higher for Gwen as the Jackal increases his violent stalking, and the tension is almost too much to bear. — SP
- Punisher 2099 #1
- Look, I love the Punisher. I have a particular fondness for the campiness and macho absurdity of Marvel’s Punisher 2099 series of the 1990s. So with that being said, this left me hanging a bit. Even with that nostalgia aside, the artwork and story felt very disjointed from one another. It’s hard to tell if the story felt too harsh for the artwork or if the artwork felt too flat for the story; but regardless, I found myself bored and aching for more of the ridiculous. — CM
- Valkyrie: Jane Foster #5
- There are so many moving parts in this issue, including some wildly entertaining Horse Humor (not a euphemism), and the conclusion is incredibly satisfactory. This run continues to bring energy and enthusiasm to a concept that could be very dark and droll. I look forward to the second arc. — SP
- X-Force #2
- After the shocking events of X-Force’s debut issue, Benjamin Percy’s, Joshua Cassara’s and Dean White’s follow-up feels like a solemn smack to the face after a tough day. As Krakoa reels from the violent assault from last issue that resulted in the deaths of 33 mutants, including Charles Xavier, figures like Jean Grey and Wolverine have different gut reactions that send them into action. Parts of the issue seem stuffed, resulting in certain scenes dragging on a bit too long, but Percy does a great job digging into each character’s guttural response to tragedy and what they believe will happen to the newfound sense of mutant unity without its figurehead. The only characterization that really bothered me here was Magneto’s as he seemingly spoke down to Jean Grey — an equal on the Quiet Council — about the gravity of the situation. Ultimately, the stoic art and introduction of Kid Omega makes this series a definite read moving forward. — NK
- Thank the gods Quentin Quire is back. I could go for more Wolverine-going-rogue and fighting 3D-printed assassins with Kid Omega issues, for sure. There is some genuinely disturbing imagery in this issue — proceed with caution. — SP
- Yondu #2
- The Mandalorian may be the space-western receiving the most pop culture attention at the moment, but Marvel’s Yondu is an entertaining, character-driven romp. Co-authors Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler do a great job honing in on the scoundrel’s voice and the introduction of former girlfriend Zhala opens the former Revenger up to even more emotional mining as he figures out what to do with the powerful Herald’s Urn. The follow-up issue isn’t as engrossing as the series’ opener- mainly due to the focus on the cosmic macguffin at the story’s core- but thanks to John McCrea’s line work and Mike Spicer’s warm color palette, Yondu is still a beautiful, entertaining series worthy of your attention. — NK
Next week, mutant dominance continues with new issues of X-Men, Excalibur, and Marauders!