I recently went back and read the USA Today interview that Brian Bendis gave before taking over Iron Man. He had big plans for Tony. He was going to focus on Tony as "the inventor"...this after Bendis got inspired by watching Iron Man 3 and seeing RDJ-Stark pick up the little screwdriver at the end of the movie. He was also going to give Tony a love interest (something that I really wanted to happen)...he was going to give Iron Man new villains...and make Tony more likable..etc. His goal was to make the comic book version of Iron Man just as important to Marvel Comics as the movie version of Iron Man is to the MCU.
Man, I was bouncing off the walls after reading this interview. Finally! Someone understood. Someone knew what "Tony Stark" needed as a character. I was so excited.
Then...after a few small arcs....Bendis put Tony into a box. What??!! Really? That was his big idea? I don't get it.
I like Riri just fine. I have supported her from the very beginning, but what a big letdown on Tony. No girlfriend (how long did Amara last... 5 issues?)....no new villains (well those techno-ninjas count, I guess)...no inventing in his lab (other than 2 pages in the first issue)....Civil War II certainly didn't make him more likable...and worst of all....Rhodey is now dead. Yes, Rhodey, the only comic book character to unconditionally love and care about Tony (well, okay Pepper cares, and Steve Rogers cares, and a few others too), but why take away Rhodey, a character that by his very existence makes Tony seem more likable. After all, if Rhodey loves Tony then Stark can't be all that bad in some fans' eyes).
Let's face it, Tony got tossed aside in favor of Riri. Was this Bendis' plan from the very beginning? If he gave that USA Today interview KNOWING that he was going to toss Tony Stark out after a few arcs, I'd be very disappointed in him.
Anyway, I vote for Warren Ellis as the next writer for Iron Man. Let's see where he would go after Extremis. He could probably write a good Mandarin story too.
Oh, what might have been...