By Eve L. Ewing, Luciano Vecchio & Matt Milla
Ironheart #4 delves deeper into its mystery with a compelling narrative that doesn’t forget why this series works so well, keeping its character centric approach. The split between her time in Chicago and the lab at MIT is not helping her super-heroic side activities, which find herself drawn to a group of young pickpockets with deep financing. But as Riri has found out, the pickpockets aren’t operating at random and have a specific target in mind.
Eve L. Ewing ups the stakes and keeps the tension high as there have been callbacks to Riri fighting against Thanos in this series, and here she is pitted against a mysterious masked man who has shown to be a credible threat. The villain himself uses the name of Midnight’s Fire, and it picks up after that with Riri struggling to keep her balancing act going on between her two lives when Dean Bryant wants to talk to her in person. One of the best parts about this run so far has been the dynamic between Riri and the characters that she’s interacting with their own unique and distinctive voices, so it’s fun to see her back and forth with her mother, or Midnight’s Fire, who gets a larger role here during a memorable extended flashback scene.
The Ten Rings is at the core of this mystery which grapples with the danger of Riri’s thirst for knowledge. Riri is completely in the dark about who they are and Midnight’s Fire is able to use this well the characters serve more than a match for each other in not only dialogue but also in combat. As mentioned above, there’s a heavy portion of this issue devoted to flashback which allows pencilled Luciano Vecchio and artist Matt Milla to opt for a different tone that works almost like a thriller, with plenty of high stakes and action that present a different take on the Ten Rings that keeps it accessible to newcomers who have never encountered them in a book before. Most readers will be in the dark as to what happens next as Riri is, finding out about the organisation and their plans as she does, making that climatic reveal all the more promising for the direction of what happens next.
Thee development of Midnight’s Fire really builds on his introduction in the last issue and the character works because of this. He has a clear motivation and the art gives a sense of mystery to the character even with this flashback at times feeling largely like an info dump at times. There’s even an unexpected connection that the character has to The Sanctum Sanctorum which Doctor Strange fans will appreciate, even if there isn’t a major role from the Master of the Mystic arts himself.
Everything is paced superbly to accommodate the flashbacks without losing momentum and builds to a finale that will have readers wanting to learn what happens next. Ironheart has been nothing but exciting in its first four issues so far and Ewing, Vecchio and Milla are putting together the makings of a character-defining run that should not be missed out on. It’s lively, full of style and has that extra wow factor that makes it a must-read.