sequential art

A Black Female Teen Is Comics’ New Iron Man

The new face behind the mask.

In the pages of superhero funnybooks, the faces of the Marvel pantheon have been changing dramatically. First, we got an Afro-Latino Spider-Man in 2011; then came a female Thor and a black Captain America in 2014; most recently, we’ve seen an Asian-American Hulk. Later this year, readers will see a black teenage girl assume the chrome mantle of Iron Man. In an exclusive interview with Time, veteran comics scribe — and current writer of two Iron Man monthly series — Brian Michael Bendis announced that 15-year-old Riri Williams will take over for Tony Stark in a few months.

If you’ve never heard of Riri, you’re not crazy — even most comics geeks haven’t. She only just made her first appearance in one of the aforementioned Bendis titles, Invincible Iron Man, in March. She’s a prodigious MIT student who crafted her own version of Tony’s armor technology, but other than that, we know very little about her. Tony is in the midst of a big crossover event called Civil War II (a spiritual sequel to the decade-old Civil War event that sort of inspired Captain America: Civil War … look, superhero fiction is complicated), so Riri’s ascent could be the result of Tony’s death (which wouldn’t be permanent, obviously; this is comics we’re talking about) or retirement.

In the case of all the above identity shifts, the original white-dude versions of the characters are still hanging out in the Marvel Universe, often using their old super-titles alongside their successors. So maybe that’ll end up happening? It’s also unclear whether she’ll still be, y’know, Iron Man, or whether a new moniker is in order. We know oh so little, but this being geekdom, it’s time for everyone to get excited, get mad, wildly speculate, and argue with one another!