Iron Man stories in which Tony Stark confronts his own god complex are a standby of the character’s history, and writer Christopher Cantwell’s two-plus-year run on the series is no exception. But you can’t say that his arc hasn’t been creative, what with him deleting his Twitter account, going on a cosmic adventure with Frog Man, and turning into an actual god. And this week’s issue, which caps a story arc with the surprise appearance of Ironheart, is no exception.
The good news is that the Ten Rings — not the floaty ones from the MCU but the devastating super-weapons of Marvel Comics — are out of the hands of the criminal syndicate looking to sell them to highest bidder. The embarrassing news, for Iron Man, is that despite using his entire fortune to buy super-weapons out of the hands of criminals, faking his own coma, mounting a months-long sting operation for the Ten Rings in particular... Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, rescued them first, without his help.
Even more interesting: By the end of the comic, Riri, soon to make her MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, gets to keep them indefinitely.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
Iron Man #24
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether “Riri has the Ten Rings and intends to find a way to use them for good” is a plot thread that will be remembered and used in a future comic — but I don’t think it necessarily matters. A comic that takes a full eight pages to explore why Riri is no less qualified than Tony Stark — and probably more — to safeguard the Ten Rings, to establish that she deserves his trust as much as any Avenger... that’s a cool comic. Also props to artist Angel Unzueta for keeping eight pages of conversation visually interesting.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
Kate “Hark! A Vagrant” Beaton’s Ducks has been out for several weeks now, but I only just managed to finish it. It’s absolutely one of the best comics of the year, a deliberate-but-never-slow, sobering-but-never-existential memoir of the cartoonist’s two-year stint working in the remote, self-contained, overwhelmingly male, and dangerously unregulated worker camps of the Alberta oil sands boom. Beaton weaves together explorations of generational economic scarcity, workplace sexual harassment, capitalist exploitation of people and environments, being on the internet in the late ’00s, and putting your own psyche in place after sexual assault together so deftly you don’t even see the loom.
The final page reveal at the end of this week’s Nightwing is Ric Grayson. By which I mean the persona Nightwing donned after he got shot in the head and lost all his memories, a memory that every person I’ve ever talked to about it wishes they, also, could forget. How has Ric Grayson and his taxi cab appeared in the middle of the woods where Dick Grayson and Batgirl are hiding a state’s witness? Your guess is as good as mine. For the first time in my life, I can’t wait to see where a Ric Grayson story goes from here.
The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night
The Night Eaters, the first book in an ongoing graphic novel from the folks who brought you the hit Monstress series, is difficult to describe without spoiling some of the best stuff in it. Sure, yeah, it’s a story about Asian immigrant generational trauma, a la Turning Red or Everything Everywhere All at Once, that meets haunted house horror. But there’s a lot more to its twists and turns.
Also, as illustrated above, it’s extremely funny.
Defenders Beyond #4
Marvel and DC comics love taking digs at the competition, but I gotta say, this shot across the bow in Defenders Beyond might be the first one that actually got me, a DC person forever, right in the heart. Eventually you do live through enough reboots that you either quit or accept that you’ve gotta stop caring about canon so much.
Wynd: The Throne in the Sky #3
I’ve only known Strawberry, the giant who rescues the heroes of Wynd: The Throne in the Sky by popping them in a huge jar like they’re bugs from the backyard, for two pages. But if anything bad happens to them I’ll kill everyone in this room and etc., etc., you know how it goes.