Tony Stark's next Iron-successor is about to jump into action as Earth's newest defender. After debuting this past May, 15-year-old Riri Williams will don her own technologically-enhanced armor and become Ironheart later this fall. As they've done before with many of their big new series launches, Marvel is releasing many variant covers for the first issue of Riri's Iron Man book. However, one of these covers soon become the subject of controversy, prompting the company to cancel it.
One of the Invincible Iron Man (Vol. 8) #1 variant covers coming out for Miri Williams' superhero debut was intended to be sold exclusively at New York City's Midtown Comics. Illustrated by pin-up artist J. Scott Campbell, it depicted Miri unarmored, clutching her helmet and holding her hand out like she was about to shoot a repulser blast. However, following its unveiling this past Wednesday, there was an outcry from a sizable portion of fans who believed the young heroine was over-sexualized on it, specifically citing that it's problematic because she's still a teenager. Check out the cover for yourself below, along with one fan's criticism of it.
Following the negative reactions online, Marvel and Midtown Comics jointly decided a day later (via Hitfix) to pull this variant cover from availability. However, there is another variant cover of her striking that pose fully armored that will still be sold, along with a number of other covers from various artists. Brian Michael Bendis, the writer behind Riri's book, agreed with the decision to cancel the cover above, saying on his Tumblr page that specialty covers "aren't under his purview," and had he seen the cover ahead of time, he would have voiced "similar concerns." J. Scott Campbell expressed disappointment about the decision on his Twitter page, but didn't blame Marvel and Midtown Comics. This isn't the first time in recent years a comic book company has canceled a variant cover for a superheroine-led series. For instance, last year DC Comics pulled a Batgirl cover that harkened back to their classic Killing Joke story after many fans criticized that that it devalued the book's optimistic and empowering tone by making Barbara Gordon a victim.
Despite this controversy, Riri Williams is still nearing her big premiere as a superhero. Earlier this year, it was announced that the MIT student would replace Tony Stark as the Marvel universe's main armored hero, and she was later given the Ironheart identity. Described as one of the smartest people on the planet, she built her own suit of armor from materials she stole around the MIT campus, and she has since earned Stark's support not just for her ingenuity, but because she prevented two inmates from escaping the New Mexico State Penitentiary with her suit.
You can see Riri Williams debut as Ironheart when Invincible Iron Man #1 is released digitally and on shelves November 9.