Ironheart is a beloved Marvel Comics character (for some fans, at least) that’s gaining traction as one of the most prominent young superheroes right now. After her wonderful MCU debut, portrayed by Dominique Thorne in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Riri Williams will highlight her own TV series quite soon on Disney+.
Although Riri appeared only just recently, in 2015 (as Ironheart in 2017), there are already some awesome storylines she has been a part of. From her intellect, courage, leadership, and all-out personality and humor, there’s a lot to unpack to get to know the character better. So, without further ado, here are the ten best Ironheart comics to read before the MCU show. Enjoy!
Honorable mention: Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3 #1
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3 #1 came out on October 7, 2015, highlighted by none other than Mr. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Riri Williams didn’t really have a huge role in this issue, but it’s still quite an important part of her history. Why? Because that’s the first time ever that she appeared in Marvel Comics!
Granted, she was only mentioned as this brilliant young girl who can recreate an Iron Man suit from scrap, but it was the beginning of her path to becoming Stark’s successor. To add to it, it was quite an important issue for Iron Man, as well, as he finally found a way to merge all his models into one and create a new, insanely awesome Iron Suit.
10. Infinity Wars: Ghost Panther Vol. 1 #2
This one is actually a bit weird, as it comes as a part of the Warp World – a reality where characters get merged into one left and right. However, I found it to be quite an interesting read, especially for MCU fans. Infinity Wars: Ghost Panther Vol. 1 #2 came out on December 12, 2018.
If you thought Riri and Shuri had great chemistry in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, wait until you see what the writers had in store for this issue – we get Shuriri, a literal warp of Shuri and Riri into one character. Shuriri is the princess of Wakanda that created an Iron Suit called Pantherheart. I won’t spoil the details for you, but it’s a cool read.
9. Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4 #8-10
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4 #8 came out on June 21, 2017, but the storyline spanned over a few issues. In it, Riri Williams actually becomes the ruler of Latveria – a feature that took years for Doctor Doom to achieve – and shows a lot of maturity despite her young age.
S.H.I.E.L.D. asks her to help take down Latveria’s tyrant, war criminal ruler, and after Riri does, she takes over Latveria, negotiates a truce with S.H.I.E.L.D., and then paves the way for the first-ever democratic elections in the country.
Some fans found the storyline a bit silly, but it’s important for Riri Williams as a superhero and as a person, as she truly has shown what she’s made of.
8. Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4 #3
This issue is an absolute turning point for Riri Williams. Why? Because in Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4 #3 – which came out on January 18, 2017 – Riri becomes Ironheart for the first time! She is called that by a Tony Star A.I., who’s also her mentor.
There are numerous awesome moments from the issue, and it was the first taste of true adversity and action for Riri. she faced her first big villain, and it didn’t really go smoothly from the get-go. That’s why it’s so awesome to see the character growth she experienced over these past few years.
7. Civil War II Vol. 1 #6-8
We now know when Riri Williams first appeared as Riri and when she first appeared as Ironheart. Well, the somewhere-in-between happened in Civil War II Vol. 1 #6-8, issued on October 26, 2016. Here, Riri appears in battle in her homemade Iron Suit made of scrap metal, and many prominent heroes take notice.
One of them was Tony Stark, although Civil War II didn’t really end well for him. I found the storyline quite awesome, and although Riri wasn’t the lead character, it was still a very important part of Ironheart’s history.
6. Champions Vol. 2 #16-19
Almost every superhero has that initial team that they always remain the most associated with. For Iron Man, it’s the Avengers. For Iron Fist, it’s the Defenders. And, for Ironheart, it’s the Champions. Riri first joined the team in a storyline spanning from Champions Vol. 2 #16-19, starting on January 17, 2018.
Prior to that particular issue, the Champions had an unsuccessful operation with the Avengers and realized they needed reinforcements – hence, Ironheart joined the team. There was a cool conversation between Riri and Viv Vision in #19, where Ironheart admits she isn’t used to working as a member of a team, but as time passes, she becomes a vital part of the Champions.
5. Ironheart Vol. 1 #9
Ironheart Vol. 1 #9 was released on August 14, 2019. It might not be as important and as high on this list hadn’t it been for Riri’s MCU debut, but it’s still a cool issue that’s very well-written and worth your time. In this issue, Riri Williams goes to Wakanda and meets Princess Shuri.
And, just like in the MCU, they hit it off almost instantly as two brilliant, young, black women who know their strengths and know how to use them – with a pinch of sarcasm and intelligent humor. If you liked Shuri and Riri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, I strongly recommend this particular comic book issue.
4. Champions Vol. 2 #26
For me, Champions Vol. 2 #26 – released on November 7, 2018 – is one of the most important issues in Ironheart’s short comic book history. Not because it was her first appearance or because they defeated a powerful opponent, but because of the growth Riri had shown.
The Champions were just coming off of a nasty loss to the Chitauri, and the team morals were down. Her friend, Viv Vision, lost her memory and was reintroduced as Vivid Vessel. Ironheart speaks to her, saying: “Look, even if you don’t remember who they are, the Champions still matter. If stopping this army is what’s right, then let’s do it.”
Riri is often considered to be an immature girl despite her intelligence, but this particular moment is where she shows the killer leadership skills commonly associated with Iron Man.
3. Infamous Iron Man Vol. 1 #8-9
Infamous Iron Man Vol. 1 #8 was released on May 24, 2017, and it was one of the coolest Ironheart storylines to this date. There were two Iron Men, but neither was Tony Stark. Instead, Riri met Doctor Doom, aka Infamous Iron Man, who got a hold of Stark Technology and started using his version of the Iron Suit.
However, this Doom wasn’t evil. Instead, he realized the error of his way and tried his best to do what was right and try to correct his past mistakes. It’s an incredible stretch for this storyline to make its way into the MCU, but at least we, as fans, can hope that the Ironheart TV show will be the perfect spot to introduce Doctor Doom to the MCU.
Especially knowing that the new Fantastic Four movie is hitting the big screen in 2025. Goosebumps!
2. Ironheart Vol. 1 #1
You can switch number one and number two on this list as you see fit, but they are the best Ironheart comics I’ve read so far. Ironheart Vol. 1 #1 came out on November 28, 2018, and it’s incredibly important for Riri Williams as a character – because it was the first Ironheart solo title where Riri is headlining the series.
Ironheart embraced that superhero life and proved her motivations are deep. One particular quote from the issue sums it up perfectly:
“My stepdad. It’s this thing he used to say all the time. “Those who move with courage make the path for those who live with fear.” He said it constantly. He said my mother taught him that. And I just… I was tired of being afraid. I wanted to fly.”
1. Infinity Countdown: Champions Vol. 1 #2
Last but not least, many of you probably won’t agree with me when I say this is the best Ironheart comic book so far, but I genuinely believe that. Released on July 4, 2018, Infinity Countdown: Champions Vol. 1 #2 is probably the most important moment of Riri’s superhero life to this date. And, it didn’t come in a victory – it came in a nasty, nasty defeat.
Up until now, Riri was insanely overconfident – borderline cocky and arrogant – with her abilities. However, when she came face-to-face with The Mad Titan, aka Thanos, Ironheart quickly learned that nobody is invincible. Thanos tore her Iron Suit apart and had every opportunity to kill Riri right there, but just left her broken emotionally instead.
Riri grew a lot after this defeat, even though she did go through a major identity crisis, wondering if she’s even worth the mantle she’s donning. I loved the issue, and although there’s no chance it’ll make it to the MCU, I hope that Dominique Thorne’s Riri goes through a similar character-building experience to make MCU’s Ironheart more fleshed-out.