Inevitably, many comic characters pass on the mantle to another. This has happened in series that portrayed Batman, Robin (who later became Nightwing), the Green Lanterns, and yes, even Superman for a while. But while some changes seem natural over time, others seem a ploy to hook more readers on a trendy, now character. Such is the dilemma with the new Iron Man, or should we say Iron Teen?
To be honest, every single hero has gone through the reinvention process. Batman certainly isn’t an octogenarian. Every decade or so, we get a modernized retelling or updated version of the tale. Quite simply, heroes don’t age. What they do eventually do, however, is evolve.
In older comics, you might recall the trend where every hero temporarily adopted a kid counterpart, from Captain America to The Flash. Or you might not. It has been a while.
Those heroes that haven’t passed the mantle or been molded into a juvenile replica have for the most part been genderized at least. Superman spawned Supergirl. Antman had the Wasp. Spiderman, Green Arrow, Wolverine, you name the character, there came a female counter role.
Putting the color in color comics
More recently, comics have given new, ethnic characters the roles originally assigned to white, typical characters, such as the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, who is one of the few non-stereotypical Muslims in comics. These reimaginings have met with mixed, albeit highly publicized reviews.
Riri Williams, the new Iron Man?
A 15-year-old black girl from Chicago will be donning the metal suit soon, replacing Tony Stark in the Invincible Iron Man series. William’s first appearance occurred in Invincible Iron Man #7. A child prodigy studying at MIT, she appears to be building her own suit, rather than simply being handed the mantle.
Taking over or teaming up?
That being said, it remains unclear if she will indeed replace Tony Stark, or simply become another suited side character, like Rhodey a.k.a. War Machine.
Batman is another character who, at least in one universe, passed his mantle due to age. The Batman 2099 series features a geriatric Bruce Wayne teaching a tech-savvy young hero how to be The Bat in a new age of high-tech villains.
One thing is certain. The buzz over the potential change-up has fans watching closely to see where this goes. This might turn out to be a quickly faded gimmick, like cheesy sidekicks. But it might also spawn an alternate universe timeline like the one where Superman goes dark instead of good. Only time will tell if Riri has the mettle to keep the metal.
For the most part, these reimaginings tend to be short-lived fads, and the original hero eventually returns, in a more modern setting.
Do you think that this trend of changing the persona behind the mask is good, or just a ploy to entice younger audiences of readers? Tell us on social media or in the comments below.