Published August 20, 2018

Writer Eve L. Ewing Is Bringing Ironheart into the Spotlight

"Ironheart symbolizes what happens when you combine incredible strength and might with a true desire for justice."

Ironheart cover

Riri Williams is forging a path of her own, and writer Dr. Eve L. Ewing has big plans for IRONHEART ahead! The Chicago-based poet, scholar, and artist is ready to put the spotlight on Riri's smarts and sense of justice, and she's adding some of her own hometown into the story. IRONHEART #1 will make its debut on Wednesday, November 7 with artist Kevin Libranda (CHAMPIONS) bringing Riri to life on the page. spoke to Ewing and series editors Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith to see what's in store for Riri Williams in her solo series. What's your perspective on Riri Williams as a person? How would you describe her as a friend to those around her?

Eve L. Ewing: She's still kind of figuring out the whole "peer relationships" thing. She's a deeply caring person with a good heart -- she just needs to work through some of the awkwardness. Early in life, Riri got the message that she was different. Incredibly special, but different. And to compound those feelings of difference, she lost some of the people that she loved the most in the world, including her only real friend. Aside from that, because she went to high school and then on to MIT when she was still really young, her sense of some of the rites of passage that most of us go through is a little off. But she's growing! Similarly, what's your view of Ironheart the Super Hero? What does she stand for as an icon?

Eve L. Ewing: Ironheart symbolizes what happens when you combine incredible strength and might with a sense of love, care, and a true desire for justice. Not just punishment or showing off or short-term solutions, but real justice. Not to be corny or overly literal, but that's what it means to combine the power represented by "iron" with the moral compass represented by "heart." Riri's identity and the place where she comes from means she sometimes has a different perspective than some of her peers on how to deal with people who are doing wrong. There's a reason she doesn't just go around blasting everybody to high heaven because, to be real, she definitely could do that if she wanted. But she's a very tender person at her core, and she doesn't just want to be a senseless weapon. How has your background in academics helped influence your take on one of Marvel's most scholarly Super Heroes?

Eve L. Ewing: One thing I've had to wrestle with is that if you're a black women 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. 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. 

Riri Williams art by Kevin Libranda

Riri Williams was first created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr.; the teenage genius made her debut after the events of Civil War II when she put on her own iron armor in Tony Stark's absence. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort said that Kevin Libranda's take on Riri will pick up from his work on CHAMPIONS: "Kevin did great work depicting Riri in the issues of CHAMPIONS that he drew, and like Stefano Caselli before him, I think he’s going to bring charm and appeal to Riri while also being able to deliver top-flight Super Hero action for IRONHEART." Editor Alanna Smith added: "Kevin’s Riri is animated, funny, vulnerable and charming. It’s impossible not to like her. And if you’ve ever seen one of Kevin’s fight scenes, you’ll know you’re in for a treat!"

Cover of Ironheart #1

Brevoort also said that IRONHEART is the next step in Riri's journey out from under the shadow of the original Iron Man Tony Stark. "As a character, Riri is going to be figuring out just what she wants Ironheart to represent." Smith touched on how breaking away from Stark will affect Riri: "Riri spent much of her early Super Hero career looking for Tony Stark, or upholding his mantle while he was gone. Now that he’s back, it’s finally time for her to figure out who she wants to be. Does she want to finish her education at M.I.T.? Would she rather be back home protecting Chicago? Does she still want to be a super hero, or is it enough to be a super genius? These are questions she was putting off answering when the search for Tony was underway, but now it’s time to face the music."

But while Riri Williams has plenty to think about while creating her own Super Hero persona, there's still a young woman figuring herself out -- and more for readers to learn about her. This is the most special and unique part of Ewing's take on Riri Williams. Smith says: "Eve was really eager to dive deep in to aspects of Riri’s character we haven’t explored yet. What bands does she like? What hobbies is she embarrassed about? What’s the state of her fridge? And, most importantly, why did she build the Ironheart armor? We’ve been delighted to see how quickly Eve was able to transition to comic book storytelling -- she’s a natural, and she’s telling a wonderfully human story here. Her connection to Riri is evident in every script. She’s really crafting something special, and she’s making it look easy!"

IRONHEART #1, written by Eve L. Ewing with art by Kevin Libranda, goes on sale Wednesday, November 7! Stay tuned to for more updates!

See more art by Kevin Libranda as well as cover art by Amy Reeder plus variant covers by Humberto Ramos, Stephanie Hans, Luciano Vecchio, and Jen Bartel!


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