Tony Stark steps down, passes Iron Man mantle to 15-year-old black woman

First, there was Miles Morales. The half-black, half-Latino teenager became Spider-Man in an alternate universe, and part of the Internet lost it. Then there was Kamala Khan. The Muslim teenager stepped into the shoes of Ms. Marvel, and the Internet lost it. Rinse and repeat for Amadeus Cho as the Incredible Hulk, Sam Wilson as Captain America, and Jane Foster as Thor. But despite the vocal minority, Marvel keeps pushing to make their universe more diverse.

Their latest entry is scientific genius, Riri Williams. Enrolled at MIT at the age of 15, Riri is one of the smartest people on the planet. So smart she managed to reverse engineer a suit of Iron Man armor in her dorm room. This not only brings her to Tony Stark”s attention, but it gets Riri the promotion of a lifetime. As announced on TIME, a black woman is now Iron Man.

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment/TIME

Along with the cover reveal, TIME also got an interview with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN writer Brian Michael Bendis about Riri”s new role. Bendis said events of CIVIL WAR II cause Tony to step down as Iron Man (though the reasons obviously remain under wraps) and Ms. Williams steps in to fill the role.

“One of the things Tony does to distract himself from all the things going on in his life is he goes to find this young woman who is flying around the middle of America in an armor that”s not completely made to try to find out what her deal is.

He”s also aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she”s doing it. Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can”t help but go maybe I should buy her out.”

The whole interview is worth a read as Bendis talks about his inspiration for Riri and takes aim comic fans who don”t want to see women and minorities take up iconic mantles.

Not to end on a downer note, because I for one am ecstatic to see what Riri can do, but I”d be remiss if I didn”t point out that diverse representation on the comic book page needs to be backed up by creator diversity. INVINCIBLE IRON MAN is written by Bendis, with art by Stefano Caselli. Both are obviously dudes. My real hope here is Bendis is merely holding the baton, introducing Riri to the Marvel universe before letting her go into her own stand-alone series. One written by a black woman.