Chicago’s Eve Ewing will pen Marvel’s ‘Ironheart’
Fangirling over Eve L. Ewing is a new pastime if you’re an African-American female writing in Chicago. Ewing is an academic, a social media maven, a poet, a playwright. Now, she’s adding Marvel writer to her resume. Yes, Ewing is penning the upcoming Marvel series “Ironheart.”
For novices unfamiliar with the heroine, the title centers on Riri Williams, a black teen girl from Chicago who is a genius. She, like many superheroes, experienced a loss in her life when she was very young (her stepfather who had raised her and her best friend were both killed in a drive-by shooting), and she’s trying to cope.
Riri’s intellect is so incredible that she is able to re-create the Iron Man suit on her own, without all the resources of a Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). Stark mentors her and for a brief time she actually takes over as Iron Man and wears the suit. Riri eventually strikes out on her own in her own suit.
“Periodically I have to sit back and go, ‘Omigosh, I’m a Marvel writer’ — there’s nothing more implausible and more amazing that’s ever happened to me,” Ewing adds. “When you’re a writer, oftentimes you’re grinding away and there’s a short list where you can tell your mom, grandma or your brother and they fully understand what it is. But this is something where everybody gets it; everybody understands the pop culture resonance with Marvel – what it means and what it stands for, so it’s really exciting.”
In a world where goddesses are us, Afrofuturism is now , national youth poet laureates are making their mark, and sisters are gracing the September covers of many a fashion magazine this year, Ewing joining Marvel’s ranks is the jewel in the crown that is Chicago’s literary powerhouse. Along with Nnedi Okorafor, who is writing a new comic book series on Princess Shuri from “Black Panther” in October, Chicago is on the Marvel map.
“Chicagoans, we do it big, especially black women from Chicago,” Ewing said. “We do it real big.”
Ewing was touring for her poetry book “Electric Arches” in late 2017 when she saw an email from Marvel in her inbox. Titled: “Marvel calling,” she said she almost fell out of her chair. Asked about her reaction when Marvel welcomed her into the fold, she said, “It’s been like a recurring sense of wild emotions.”
It’s exciting for fans of Ewing, too. A campaign to bring her into the Marvel comics family began in 2017. Her fans started a petition to gather signatures to let Marvel know they wanted her to guide Riri’s path. The movement picked up steam on Twitter, where she has 165,000 followers. Ewing had the writing chops, she had the passion for pop culture, so make it happen, was the cry.
We talked to Ewing before her “Ironheart” news broke, in hopes of getting the scoop on what black girl magic she will weave into Riri Williams. The first issue will be on sale in November, according to Marvel. The interview has been condensed and edited.
… on Riri’s Chicago ties:
“She was born and raised in Chicago, but because she’s a superhero, her adventures take her all over the place. She also had a lab at MIT, that’s also kind of her headquarters. Her mom still lives in Chicago. I decided specifically that she’s from South Shore. Previous writers put in so much, in terms of beginning her autobiographical details, but as a Chicagoan, I want to get down and dirty — like where did Riri go to high school? What bus does she take? Does she eat hot chips? These are the things that are really going to make her a full three-dimensional person. I’m really excited about putting in some of those little Chicago details.” (As far as where she went to high school, Ewing has decided she attended King College Prep.)…