SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Invincible Iron Man" #3, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli, on sale now
The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli advance Riri Williams' story in "Invincible Iron Man" #3, while also finding a place for Tony's birth mother Amanda Armstrong in the wake of Tony's physical removal from existence. Bendis continues to integrate Riri into the Marvel Universe, but more specifically into the world of Iron Man, while establishing a connection to Amanda herself. There's also a potential foreshadowing of a possible dynamic between the newly-revealed Amanda, who's physically in the new status quo, and Tony, who technically isn't -- but for all intents and purposes might as well be.
Riri Williams Officially Becomes Ironheart
No one feels Tony's presence more than Riri herself, who's constantly hounded by the company of his holographic A.I. as he (it?) gives her guidance, whether she asks for it or not. While Tony's ethereal form provides Riri plenty of technical advice, his construct can do little to ease the emotional pain she still feels years after the tragic and happenstance loss of her stepfather as well as her best friend. With not-Tony dogging her as she fights various supervillains and other foes across the span of several battles, Riri's grieving turns to anger, lamenting the random precision that took the lives of two people close to her. Citing Riri's mention of both victims being shot through the heart, and Riri's construction of her armor serving as a sort of coping mechanism / defense, holo-Tony formally, if somewhat contrivedly, deems Riri as Ironheart.
Immediately thereafter, Riri and not-Tony are confronted by none other than Pepper Potts, in full Rescue armor, who is meeting both Riri and Tony's A.I. for the first time. Pepper is as put off by Tony's new form as Riri, a response shared by just about everyone else who has encountered him so far. Contrasting her discomfort with Tony, though, Pepper can't help but like Riri's strong and forward nature, even as she confronts the teen about the hazards of superheroing. As if to prove her point, an armored individual -- most likely the Techno Golem, judging by the Next Issue blurb -- arrives out of nowhere, along with a hoard of henchmen and prepares to attack Pepper and Riri as the issue concludes.
Mom Is Running Stark Industries... As Far As Everyone Knows
And that's how the issue ends. It begins, though, with the arrival of Mary Jane Watson and another familiar holographic A.I., Friday, at Stark Headquarters, where they encounter the ambitious would-be Stark Industries C.E.O., Eric Lynch. Initially believing Mary Jane to be the acting C.E.O., and then even Friday momentarily, Lynch is introduced to Amanda, who professes herself as the new person in charge, much to Lynch's dismay. Likewise dismayed at being made aware of Lynch's disdain for her son, Amanda sends the abrasive executive off with his tail between his legs, before dropping her charade as a self-confident C.E.O. and revealing that Friday is indeed running the company herself, with Amanda serving as the figurehead.
Despite her nervousness and lack of experience, Amanda's not content to just sit around and admire her son's empire; distraught by his loss so soon after connecting for the first time, Amanda wishes to carry on Tony's legacy, and is made aware of her son's previous – and still ongoing – support of Riri. Friday implicitly informs Amanda of Tony's A.I. entity, and Amanda's incredulous reaction as rendered by Caselli postulates a potential bond that still might yet be able to be formed between a reunited mother and the remaining essence of her son. How a technically emotionless artificial intelligence can forge a relationship with a woman who comes from a whole different background could unfold any number of ways. With her son physically absent but pervasive in the life of young Riri, and wanting to carry on with his wishes, the possibility exists of Amanda perhaps even forming a pseudo-grandmotherly bond with Riri.
As the figurehead of the Marvel Universe's largest corporate powerhouse, Amanda stands to become a much bigger player, both within the world of Iron Man and the Marvel Universe as a whole. Whether that's as a victim or perhaps something that the former '80s pop star has yet to unveil is a question that remains. Answers to that, and the outcome of Riri's showdown, may be forthcoming in "Invincible Iron Man" #4, on sale February 15.