Sunday, December 2, 2018

Riri Williams, Ironheart, Eve Ewing, and Maya Angelou

It's not everyday that you're reading a comic book and come across a black poetry reference. Hey, but then again, it's not everyday that a black poet is the author of a comic book.

The other day, I was reading Eve Ewing's debut on Ironheart, and early on as Riri Williams (also known as Ironheart) is soaring in the air, she wonders to herself, "how does that poem go? 'into a daybreak that's wondrously clear....I rise." That's of course from Maya Angelou's famous poem "Still I Rise."

I enjoyed the entire issue, but that image of Ironheart floating high in the air, looking down on the earth, and thnking the words "...I Rise..." is going to stick with me. Before reading, I raised this question to myself: what will Ewing bring to this comic book that is distinct? An Angelou quotation so early on in the book was an indication of the answer.

The notion of flight appears throughout the history of African American literary art. It's often metaphorical. But here in the fictive world of Riri Williams, that idea of rising and flying felt real. Or, we're given a new consideration of that old concept.

Roundup of coverage on Eve L. Ewing and Marvel's Riri Williams/Ironheart
Eve L. Ewing, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Studies, and creativity
An Index for Eve L. Ewing's Electric Arches
A Notebook on Comic Books

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