The teen genius and superhero Riri Williams will be written by a black woman for the first time

Credit: Nolis Anderson; Marvel Comics

Riri Williams is here to stay.

Marvel Comics confirmed Monday that Chicago-based poet and academic Eve L. Ewing will write Ironheart, a new ongoing comic about the teen genius and superhero who temporarily took over for Iron Man while Tony Stark was in a coma. Launching in the fall and illustrated by Kevin Libranda (Champions), Ironheart will mark the first time Riri’s character is written by a black woman.

“I’m really proud to be doing this and really proud and happy for Riri,” Ewing wrote in a Twitter thread sharing the news, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune. “She is an awesome character and I’m going to do my best to bring every ounce of Chicago black girl greatness that she deserves and that you all deserve.”

Created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato Jr. in the pages of Invincible Iron Man in 2016, Riri is a Windy City native and brilliant MIT student who built her own high-tech suit of armor despite lacking the resources of her billionaire predecessor.

Since Riri’s debut, fans have been lobbying online for Ewing to write an Ironheart comic, and she signaled that she was game in November, tweeting that she had studied comic storytelling for years. Indeed, her 2016 book Electric Arches combines visual art elements with poetry and prose. Ewing also noted that she personally identified with Riri, tweeting that the character “has my haircut and general mode of dress.”

In a new interview with about Ironheart, Ewing expanded on her shared background with the character.

“One thing I’ve had to wrestle with is that if you’re a black woman at a place like MIT, where Riri goes to school, or down the street at Harvard, where I went to graduate school, the social environment was kind of constructed without you in mind, and these institutions ask you to make a lot of compromises that you have to navigate,” Ewing said. “That’s definitely something Riri will be dealing with. More broadly, she and I have a lot in common, and it’s been so fun to write her so far. Not just as a black woman, but specifically as a black woman from Chicago, and an awkward nerd, and someone who’s spent a lot of time in Cambridge. In everything I write, I always try to illuminate a strong sense of place. It’s been really fun to bring out little details of those places. Shouting out Chicago in particular is pretty much my favorite thing.”

With Ironheart, Ewing will become one of the few black women writers at either Marvel or DC. Roxane Gay recently won an Eisner Award for her miniseries Black Panther: World of Wakanda but has not written any new comics since. Nnedi Okorafor has written the Dora Milaje-focused comic Wakanda Forever, and will soon launch a solo Shuri comic about everyone’s favorite Wakandan royal inventor.

Ironheart #1 is slated to hit stores Nov. 7. Ewing also wrote a Twitter thread explaining how to pre-order the issue for anyone who’s interested but doesn’t know how to navigate comics’ confusing distribution system. Check out Libranda’s cover for the first issue above, and his character designs for Riri in armor below.

Credit: Kevin Libranda/Marvel Comics

Iron Man

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