Tony Stark won't be Iron Man for much longer, as Marvel has revealed that Riri Williams will be taking his place - and relaunching his title. Introduced earlier this year in Invincible Iron Man #7, Williams was shown reverse-engineering one of Stark's older armors - and in the "Marvel NOW!" "Divided We Stand" image is shown wearing what appears to be a new War Machine armor - coincidently, just weeks after the death of James "Rhodey" Rhodes." Brian Michael Bendis said Rhodes' death, along with other events, leads to the induction of Riri as the new Iron Man for a new Invincible Iron Man #1 with Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli later this year.
"We’re in the middle of a very big Tony Stark storyline—actually three storylines converging," Bendis told Time. "His best friend died, his company is collapsing and he’s finding out who his biological parents were all at the same time. That’s stressful for a character who is wired the way Tony is wired and has dependency issues the way Tony does."
"Tony is also a master at not paying attention to the thing that’s most important and distracting himself with Avengers stuff. How that all shakes out such that Tony is no longer in the armor? You’ll have to wait to find out for the end of Civil War II. But it does create a path or Riri Williams, who Tony will know and will be interacting with very shortly in the comics."
Created by Bendis and artist Mike Deodato Jr., Riri Williams was introduced earlier this year as a 15-year-old engineering whiz enrolled at MIT. The writer cites an unnamed television show he was a part of as inspiration for the Williams character.
"One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn’t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life—just random street violence—and went off to college was very inspiring to me," Bendis related. "I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place."
Although the apparent exit of Tony Stark as Iron Man might seem like no-brainer for a finale to the current Civil War II (which Bendis also writes), the writer said that this event doesn't spoil that event book's ending.
"More people are going to be upset that they think they know the ending to Civil War II now than anything we just talked about," said the writer. "But I can tell you just because we’re hearing what we’re saying doesn’t know you mean how Civil War II ends. We’re not telling you the end, at all."
Bendis will be joined by artist Stefano Caselli on Invincible Iron Man as Riri takes over as the title character.