Riri Williams: Marvel’s Precious Little Sociopath

Marvel debuted the character Riri Williams in July 2016. The character replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man, adopting the name Iron Heart (which ironically turns out to be the name used in a porn parody of Iron Man). Riri’s claim to fame is that she is a 15-year-old black female super-genius supposedly smarter and better than Stark.

Brian Michael Bendis, the character’s creator, faced a backlash from progressives because Bendis is a straight, white, Jewish man writing a black female character. His critics ignored at Bendis and his wife adopted two black girls. They also ignored his reason¬†for creating Riri Williams, as explained in the Time article. His critcis felt much more content to attack the man rather than give him a chance.

However, things have not been that great for Riri. The Invincible Iron Man series that Riri leads has seen its numbers drop dramatically since its November 2016 debut:

#1 – 97,713
#2 – 81,271
#3 – 44,181
#4 – 36,600
#5 – 38,746
#6 – 31,561
#7 – 28,266

Keep in mind that solicitations are not sales. These are not numbers of books sold, but the number of orders placed by stores asking to sell the book. It is entirely possible, and indeed likely, that one can go into comic book stores and find back issues up to the first issue.

That said, the numbers do not lie. Riri Williams’s book has lost 70% of its apparent audience within seven issues. The most recently listed book is only 8,000 units away from Marvel’s 20,000 unit cancellation mark. What makes that so peculiar is that progressive routinely touts Riri as a fan favorite character, and yet her most recent issue is barely doing better than the Justice League Power Rangers crossover.

What is going wrong with this book? Why is Riri not connecting with the audience? That be because Riri Williams is a sociopath.

In her eight-issue run, she has shown a complete lack of concern for other people. She is incredibly narcissistic and selfish. She appears to lack basic social skills, talking at and down to people. And while touted a genius possibly smarter than Tony Stark, she is blissfully ignorant of some of the most basic concepts.

Read any of her comics and you are left with one question: why is she a superhero? Why has she donned the armor? Why does she want to do any of this?

Typically a hero’s call to adventure comes from some tragedy (Batman or Spider-man), some desire to live up to an ideal (Superman or Captain America), some inheritance (Captain Marvel/Shazam or Thor), or some literal call to adventure (Blue Beetle). The general element is that the character acts out of a sense of duty or altruism. At the very least they desire to do the right thing, even if their motivation maybe selfish or their actions violent (Punisher).

However, Riri’s call to adventure is pure spite. Actually, to be more specific, it is an abject desire to be a victim of racism and when she is not treated in a racist manner, essentially demands something equivalent so that she spitefully fight against an “unfair” imposition. You do not need to take my word for it. Here are the pages in which a young Riri Williams chastises her not racist white teacher for not being racist:

I must give praise to the artist Stefano Caselli because he captured Riri’s indignation perfectly. Almost too perfectly, which makes me wonder whether Bendis gave Caselli the real script for the book, or if he pulled a Star Wars trick and gave Caselli a fake script with the teacher actually being racist. That is the only thing I can think of to explain these pages. Without that, what we see is a little sociopath.

We see a girl so obsessed with wanting to be a victim that she cannot fathom that people are not what she thinks them to be. That alone does not make Riri a sociopath, however, what occurs in the rest of the issue does. Two Youtubers, Douglas Ernst and Diversity and Comics, gave run-downs of what happened in the issue. I highly encourage people to check out their channels, along with Captain Cummings and I Love Comics (formerly Grove of Engletine). All four give fantastic reviews of comics.

What happens in issue #8 is that there an attempted terrorist attack that is thwarted by Agent Carter of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark’s A.I., who acts as mentor for Riri Williams, sends Riri to the crime scene to help at Carter’s request. For some inexplicable reason Riri is the only hero to show up. No other Avengers, X-Men, Champions, Alpha Flight, or any of the other six dozen heroes living in New York can be found.

Yet instead of Riri announcing who she is and her intentions or A.I. Tony notifying S.H.I.E.L.D. about Agent Carter’s request, Riri drops into the middle of a crime scene unannounced. She acts shocked when the agents draw their weapons, and instead of simply stating that she was asked to come there by Agent Carter or asking A.I. Tony to vouch for her, Riri threatens all the agents, telling them she could easily disarm them if she wanted.

And the stupidity proceeds from there. Diversity and Comics breaks it down very well. The gist is that in this issue Riri Williams comes across as more of a burgeoning super villain than hero. Everything she does appears based on narcissistic opportunism and pure self-interest. As Diversity points in this video or in another, A.I. Tony at one point finds a villain for Riri to go after because the girl simply wants to beat someone up.

What really confuses me is that I know Bendis is a solid writer. I have read his work for years. It is not possible that he does not know what he wrote. So either he has slyly tricked progressives into liking a character he is actually going to turn into villain or he is so entrenched in progressive ideology that he legitimately believes this is not only how to write a “positive” portrayal of black women, but that this is how actual black women think.

This is the current state of Marvel Comics. One of their titular heroines is so villainous that she makes Doctor Doom look like Charles Xavier. Ironically, Doctor Doom actually makes a better Iron Man than Riri Williams. More ironically, both books are written by Bendis, proving that the man is not incompetent, just thoroughly indoctrinated.

9 thoughts on “Riri Williams: Marvel’s Precious Little Sociopath

  1. Real cool. Thanks for amplifying this idea because other than the YT creators you mentioned, nobody online seems to have anything other than praiseful puff pieces for her. The fans hate her, but if you looked only at the Google searches you might think she was a total hit loved by everyone.

  2. What a mess. Seems that in the clip you showed, the teacher is just thinking “oh I might as well humour her” because she has her head up her arse.

  3. Dude, I feel ya man. I’m sick and tired of being labelled a racist just because I don’t like a comic book character. It is insane.
    I never cared about diversity, because I never thought there was a problem. The real problem is, the stories are awful. The characters read like mouthpieces for the writers to spout their progressive views. The characters are never in the wrong in an argument, and everytime the other side is brought up, they’re made to look like idiots.
    If this is the direction Marvel is going to stick with… I’m gonna invest in hardback novels… At least until they mass burn Dickens works because he didn’t use enough diverse characters.
    (It’ll happen.)

  4. I don’t think she was chastising her teacher for being racist, but for being sexist. Additionally, she wasn’t chastising her more so expressing disapointment for the teacher acting outside her perceived norm.
    Not everything is about race, she’s a hyper intelegent person who has trouble relating and communicating with people she perceives as her intellectual inferiors…such happens to be everyone but Moon Girl.

  5. I never understood why people can’t accept the villainous trajectory of Riri. You can like a character and watch that character evolve into an interesting villain. The fact that the world doesn’t bend to her whim shows that Bendis is NOT indoctrinated. He didn’t make a racist teacher. He didn’t make officers who willing let her wander onto a crime scene. He’s still writing a world that feels relatable, with the only anomaly being Williams herself.
    Bendis is not the problem. The audience projecting their desires and expectations onto his storytelling is the problem.

    Riri is a sociopath, and they do exist in the world. This isn’t a narrative failure but a character flaw. Let’s see where it goes, if we can have the patience not to abandon it before the payoff.

  6. Yes, Sociopaths do exist, and some think of their sociopathy as laudable. By and large, however, the population is not composed of sociopaths. When they go to buy a superhero book, they want a superhero story in it, not a story of some crazy (to generous) deluded that he is a superhero.

  7. Pingback: New Marvel Projects Revealed on Disney's Investor Day - Geeks + Gamers

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