This blog may contain spoilers.
In Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 #1, Tony Stark made mention of a 15 year old girl at M.I.T. who had reverse engineered his tech on a dare, then posted it online.
That girl, was RiRi Williams.
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, RiRi Williams: IRONHEART is both the hero we deserve, and the one we desperately need. She is young, black, excellence and I'm all the the way here for it. Her story begins during her time at M.I.T. To say that she's ahead of the curve would be an understatement. She is beyond brilliant and because of that she has trouble focusing on anything other than her work. She seeks to reach her intellectual limit and through that pursuit, begins a secret project to make her very own power suit by reverse engineering an old suit of Iron Man Armor (Model 41) using what we in the art world like to call "found materials".
She steals them.
When campus security grows suspicious, RiRi decides to do what any 15 year old super scientist would do while wearing a makeshift Iron Man Armor. She flys away, and roams around the country while testing her super suit's abilities. Along the way she happens to encounter and subdue recently escaped convicts, and just like that, a hero is born. She eventually takes the name IRONHEART, but before that Stark notices her potential and takes her under his wing. Shortly after he is mortally injured and put in a medically endued comma to heal, leaving RiRi minus one millionaire playboy mentor.
I'm admittedly late to the party and being completely transparent, it was intentional. RiRi's original design was a bit off putting because it seemed to sexualize an underage black girl. Sadly that's a recurring theme and it's despicable every single time. There was a huge social media blacklash (black backlash) and thankfully Marvel made alterations to the character. Here's the other side of that, it's not uncommon for children to look much older than they actually are these days. While that's true to life, there are also children who still look like children. When given the freedom to choose between the two, why choose the former? That is after all, the beauty of creating worlds. You can willfully choose which pieces of reality you like and build the narrative as you see fit.
After the redesign she still looked older than 15, but they got rid of the sassy hip pops and midriff shirts. That made a huge difference.
Another thing that turned me off was the fact that a black person would not be writing for her. Bendis pens the series and I feared the story would be tone def and use her blackness as a novelty, if they spoke on it at all. The other side of that is the fact that a writer being black doesn't necessarily mean that they will be loyal to our people, or tell our stories with the nuances that are unique to us. After all, two black writers are writing the HBO slavery fanfic (I'm not going to let you forget that). I didn't enjoy Coates' Black Panther as much as I'd hoped I would, simply because it seemed to focus on the deconstruction of the character, while Priest made the Black Panther that we all know and love. Priest's Panther is the symbol of black power, not only physically, but technologically, socially, and spiritually as well. I'm aware that quality varies from case to case, but it was something I had to consider, especially since Black Panther was CREATED by a duo of white men (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby).
Invincible Iron man (2016) follows RiRi as she discovers what she can do and who she truly is. The character is extremely relatable because her quest is one that many of us share. She wants to be her best self. Though a series of wonderfully frightening events she finds herself exactly where she's always wanted to be, but she's not entirely sure that she's ready to be there. Interestingly enough, before Stark was put into a comma he apparently created an A.I. copy of his personality to assist RiRi. Now it's all that's left of him. RiRi and the Stark A.I. have an entertaining relationship. He's her girl Friday. He trains her while in the use of her suit and helps her develop better versions of it, all while delivering the boyish quips that we'd expect from the real Stark.
The support cast is very believable, especially RiRi's mother Mrs. Williams. You can feel her love for her daughter. She has been given the nearly impossible task of raising a headstrong girl with a super intellect. Her baby is a super hero, and she supports her through it all. I love their interactions. Regardless of how intelligent RiRi is, she still respects and appreciates her mother. Besides, what could Mrs. Williams do if she didn't? Ground her? Take her armor away for a week? Make her wash a Quinjet? Mrs. Williams knows her child is special and gives her the room she needs to be who she was meant to be.
That's just good parenting.
RiRi is also woke AF. S.H.E.I.L.D. offers to make her an agent and she turns them down cold. She's added to their watch list as a child, but they watch her closely for her views on social issues. They fear those views together with super intelligence could be potentially dangerous. Turns out their right. After Sharron Cater makes a questionable decision to send RiRi on an international covert mission, she overthrows the government of Latveria on a whim, then provides Carter with a list of demands full of social improvements the country requires, all of which must be met before she will step down from the throne. M.I.T. asks that she return to the school to continue her studies with them, Amanda Armstrong (Tony Stark's rock star birth mother, long story) offers her his lab in his absence, and The Champions offer her a spot on their team. So many great things are happening for her that she has trouble deciding which path to take. Wouldn't you?
This kid is something special.
I've really enjoyed the run so far. I have a profound love for prodigy stories, especially ones that involve a passing on of an established mantle to a new or familiar character. I do wish more stories about original characters of color would be created and fully supported. Having said that, this one has yet to disappoint.
What IS disappointing is that the very same day I decide to finally try (and of course immediately fall in love with) the series, Bendis is announced to have defected to DC Comics, leaving RiRi's future uncertain.
And as I'm sure you can understand...
I have concerns.
All of this is so ridiculous. How is my timing possibly be this bad? This is why I have trust issues. There's no telling what will happen to the series now that Bendis has abandoned ship.
Will they find another writer to take the helm?
Will they replace her?
Could Bendis have left enough notes and/or instructions to at least finish a few story arcs?
This can't end now.
I just got here!
Tell me what you think about this character and what you think might happen next.
As always, thanks for dropping by.
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Isn't she just adorable?!
Star Trek Discovery admitted had a shaky start, but I enjoy the show. I try to avoid making knee-jerk conclusions about media. I'm a huge Star Trek fan, but more than that I'm a fan of black excellence. I'm going to support the show because the lead character is played by a black woman. I have no shame in that. "I'm rooting for everybody black" (Issa Rae). I support black creatives as often as I can. However, after watching all the episodes, I came to a conclusions. Star Trek Discovery AMAZING, but...it's not actually Star Trek. Not in the traditional sense. The focus here seems to be to redefine Star Trek, much like the portrayal of Heath Ledger's Joker redefined the criminally insane clown.
And for that, I have concerns...
After Captain Lorca said "This is not a science vessel. This is a warship." That was a clear message to the fans of of the franchise that expected Discovery to be more like classic Trek. To me, it roughly translated as "This ain't ya granddaddy's Trek."
Historically, Star Trek has reserved the role of lead character to an individual who symbolizes the different components of leadership. Kirk was the cowboy, and Picard was the philosopher. Sisko was the warrior, and Janeway the sineater. Archer, while my least favorite captain, was the type of leader who would do whatever it took to protect his people and get the job done. These characters usually have a strong moral compass which is of course challenged throughout their story.
Michael Burnham is very different. She has no leadership skills and her moral compass is all but broken. She is an awful person. She's not likable, at all. She constantly ignores every order given to her and repeatedly endangers the lives of her comrades on a hunch. The writers attempt to justify her actions by making her insubordination lead to a new truth.
"Correct" is not equivalent to "Right".
Discovery lacks the cerebral storytelling of its predecessors. I have the strongest personal connection to Star Trek Deep Space Nice because the story is about a people attempting to heal after slavery. I enjoyed how they explored the subject. It was tasteful. Creative. Illuminating. Star Trek Discovery enslaved the life form they called Ripper to heroic music and cheers from the crew...I understand that it was necessary for the rescue mission and that Michael wasn't happy with the decision, but there's always a really good reason to justify deplorable actions. Always.
There's no need to even discuss the continuity issues. If they had placed this series after the events of Voyager, it could have made perfect sense. The new Klingons could have been a subspecies much like the Reman were to the Romulan.
It saddens me to watch this show clumsily force itself into the franchise. It would have been quality sci-fi on its on. I know it bares the same names, but there's very little of Roddenberry's vision in it. Sure, they use sound effects and a series visual cues, but the core, the heart, the soul of Star Trek is simply not there.
There are several theories floating around the interwebs about why this show is the way it is, the most interesting being that this is the origin story for Section 31. That'd explain a few things.
We'll all just have to wait and see.
Live long, and prosper.
So I finally got around to watching the The Gifted. I say "finally" because if you know me you know I'm not a huge fan of the Fox treatment of the X-Men franchise. But I have to say, this show surprised me. I already like it more than all of the X-Men movies combined. What makes it so different to me is the fact that after all of these years I'm finally seeing what X-Men is supposed to be about, fighting the evils of prejudice through Xavier's dream. It's so refreshing. Having said that, the story is a bit predictable, but enjoyable. That's something I think could change as the series progresses. I don't know why they chose to follow the family on the run while there are so many other interesting things happening, but I do feel that the suburban family who just can't seem to understand social bias until they become its victims is depressingly accurate.
When the agent from Sentinel Services said "Things change when it's your own kid" I was instantly vindicated, validated. That was a clear message to those who don't understand what's happening in our country today.
I enjoyed the pilot, but I think the events may be unfolding too quickly. Build up is everything. I feel like I could have spent a few episodes establishing the normalcy of their family life. I'm not completely sold on what they're doing with Polaris. I need some more height and muscle mass on Warpath. Eclipse is a character specifically created for this show, i like him so far. Blink was almost perfect, but I really did want the pink skin and the diamond. Hopefully her skin can mutate later in the series. The Strucker siblings are also interesting so far, but I fear the brother will eventually take a darker path.
They are FINALLY putting mutant discrimination at the center of the conversation and I couldn't be more excited. They’re trying to live life and help their people all the while being hated and hunted just because they're different. I think that's something many of us can relate to. This is why I fell in love with the X-Men, and that's why I'm falling in love with this show.
Still, I have concerns.
I want to see more people of color as main characters, preferably on the mutant side. There is a piece of subtext that supports the idea of Reverse Racism because they're using a black man as the face of bigotry. I could do without that.
The highlight of the show for me so far is the 90s kid nerdgasm that ensued when I heard the cell phone ring with the X-Men cartoon theme. Very nice touch.
If you haven't watched this show, you're doing life wrong.
HBO has announced the next project from David Benioff and Dan Weiss (pictured above), the critically acclaimed Game of Thrones showrunners. The new series is entitled "Confederate". Yup. THAT Confederate. The show will be along the same vein of the Amazon Prime's "The Man in the High Castle" which is based on a book of the same name and is an alt-history that chronicles the tale of a Nazi occupied America. With the success of that series I suppose this was the natural conclusion. HBO has "borrowed" that idea to imagine an alt-history where the American Civil War ended in a stalemate and slavery is still legal in the Confederate South.
So, as you know. I have concerns. So very many concerns...
Who thought this was a good idea?! Has no one there ever seen Jurassic Park?!
Everyday I witness things that remind me we're not as far from slavery as some like to think. Why in the vastness of the infinite multiverse would i want to see a slavery fanfic? It just doesn't make sense. My people are still trying to normalize our existence in this country because our names, clothes, hair, and skin are all still seen as symbols of impropriety or aggression. That sentiment is among the many remnants of slavery that we deal with on a daily basis. They had to know this was going to offend us. They did. In fact, that's exactly why they're doing it. While speaking with my brother i asked, "How can they possibly think this would entertain us?!"
Then it hit me...They don't.
This show isn't for us. We are not the target audience. This idea is handcrafted for them.
The people who are covertly or overtly bigoted. The people who miss the "good ol days" when they were free to hate indiscriminately. When they dominated socially and were above reproach. Sure, they still dominate finance, politics, education, employment, law enforcement and just about everything else, but that's just not the same. This show will be what Game of Thrones was to us, for the Trump supporter. A captivating fantasy. And I have to admit. It's brilliant.
Unscrupulous, but brilliant.
There has been a huge blacklash via social media. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this is a terrible idea. HBO has been met with a fierce tweetstorm via #NoConfederate in protest to this show. People of all races, sexes and backgrounds are speaking out against Confederate.
Not bad Twitter. Not bad at all. Keep it coming.
Others are saying that people of color are being too sensitive. It truly amazes me that we must remain impartial, unemotional, and objective to even be given a seat at the table to discuss the problems that effect us the most. We're told to get over slavery, but never forget 9/11. This is because the darkest time of our history is at worst something they celebrate, and at best a philosophical talking point, or in this case the backstory of a new television program. Black suffering always sells. Always. That aside, what's most problematic is black people who feel the need to understand the other side of this. They want to hear the opposing view, and be respectful of it. The irony lies the fact that the same courtesy is rarely extended to us. Marvel's Black Panther is too militant but HBO's Confederate is creative entertainment? It's so frustrating to see so many black people doing what I call "Carmichaeling".
Which is to be "woke" to a fault. To see a thing that should deeply offensive to our people and ignore it so that they can be the person that says it didn't affect them because they're so socially evolved. To be contrary for contray's sake. There is a subset of black people emerging from the depths. Their numbers are swelling and they are growing stronger with each passing day. They have no connection to our people and pride themselves in being what i can the "Alt-Black." These are the type of people who say things like:
"It's just entertainment."
"You're giving it power."
"I find it interesting."
"This doesn't apply to me."
These are the type of people that, regardless of the story, don't see the subtext in the quintessential American hero being a Nazi sleeper agent. There is a growing sentiment of white nationalism and media like this can do nothing but enhance it.
To add insult to injury they've brought two people of color onto the project as the writers. This is obviously for validation and/or deflection. Get ready to hear "But blacks wrote it!" The Spellmans. A married couple of black writers who are most known for their work on "The Good Wife" and "Empire" will be doing the dirty work. How they can stomach working on this project after witnessing incidents like the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville Virginia, is beyond me. Benioff and Weissfirst said that they brought the Spellmans on because they were lazy and didn't want to do the work themselves. Then they laughed about it.
Let's unpack that.
Two white men said they were too lazy to do something so they got a black family to do it for them. Seems like I've heard that somewhere before...They could have at least pandered by saying that they hired them to make sure the issues were handled respectfully. Nope. And that's another major problem. They are unapologetically offensive. They are offended that we are offended. I imagine them in a boardroom wearing black cloaks.
Even still. If they're smart about it, I think the show will be a huge success. I have no doubt that they will use "good moments" to justify the terrible ones. There might be black people who exact vengeance on their masters and get away with it by making it look like accidents. Or an unstoppable group of ex-slaves who roam the roads and kill slavers. Or even genuinely good white people who own slaves legally but are really freeing them and allow them to live in the community as equals. Moments similar to these will be used to justify the scenes of rape, servitude, brutality, defamation and destruction. HBO will profit from the hate left in the scars of this nation.
These people are very smart. They know exactly what they're doing. What do you think? Is this too ambitious? Is it tone-deaf? Am I reaching? Do you think the show will be a success? Like, Share, and let me know in the Comments section below.
Well I'll be damned.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Todd McFarland announced that there will be a new Spawn movie. That's good news right? I'm not so sure. I'm still trying to decide.
I was so excited by the idea until he also announced that it would be a reboot and on top of that, Spawn would not be the main character. The story would instead follow Maximilian "Twitch" Williams, a soft-spoken NYPD homicide detective who was introduced in issue 1 of the series.
I always liked Twitch, but to make the movie about him? I didn't come to see Twitch, I came to see Spawn. Al Simmons. Soldier of fortune turned undead antihero. I'd love to see Twitch with Spawn, but not instead of Spawn. Twitch stared in a spin off series entitled "Sam & Twitch", which I enjoyed, but I've been waiting to see another Spawn movie since 1997. MacFarlane created both characters so I'm sure they will be done justice. He will write, produce, and direct the new film. Who better to handle the IP than its creator? Blumhouse, known for Get Out, Paranormal Activity, and The Purge will be handling the production. They have agreed to follow MacFarlane's strict rules to the letter which should be great.
I have concerns.
McFarland explained that the new movie is going to be reminiscent of the orignal Jaws. His vision for the film is that Twitch is like the character Sheriff Brody, and Spawn is like Jaws. He sees Spawn as a dark shadow that will elude the authorities and brutalize criminals. It sounds really cool...in theory, but I can't tell if he is being extremely creative or switching to a more "globally marketable" protagonist.
It's hard not to feel like this takes a story about one of he few black superheros and makes it about a white guy. It's very Mississippi Burning.
Can this new formula work? Comment below and tell me what you think.