“Where’s Iceman when I really need him?”

Iron Man volume 3 #4

Marvel Comics (May, 1998)

“Trouble In Paradise”

WRITER: Kurt Busiek

PENCILER: Sean Chen

INKERS: Eric Cannon & Sean Parsons

COLORING: Liquid!

LETTERER: Kolja

EDITOR: Bobbie Chase

Morgan chooses Isla Suerte to debut their new Starkware line, with a new web browser designed by Tony Stark. It’s there he learns that Pepper and Happy are now divorced, and meets Rumiko Fujikawa, whose grandfather’s company bought Stark Enterprises while Tony was in Franklin’s pocket dimension. She uses him to tweak her parents, who won’t let her work at the company because she’s female (90s Japan, people) so she opted to be the rebellious daughter. As Tony tries to duck Sunset Bain and figure out what Rhodey is doing here the island is attacked by a new Firebrand, who needs a containment suit to control his flame powers. While Iron Man chases him off after damaging his containment suit and Rumiko is able to pull the island medical staff to help the injured, Firebrand returns as everyone is coming up with a new strategy and reactivates the extinct volcano!

What they got right: In the climate we live in as I write this seeing someone willing to create a supervillain who has an extreme view of their own political perspective would be unheard of (while treating anyone of an opposing opinion as an extremist whether they are or not has become the norm) so seeing the rich-hating psycho in this comic is interesting. (I would like to think I could write a right-wing supervillain and a left-wing supervillain as equally evil without slamming mainstream holders of either perspective.) This is also the debut of Rumiko Fujikawa, and you’ll be seeing I’m often of mixed feelings about her throughout her appearance in the series, but in the end I learned to like her. Here I see the potential she would later show. Also my congratulations to the art team (although the coloring was done by a studio who doesn’t name it’s workers) because the art is beautiful, especially by 1990s standards.

What they got wrong: I’ve been hinting about it for the past few issues, but here it is. I HATE the fact that Busiek decided to end Pepper and Happy’s marriage, and remember he’s one of my favorite writers so you know that declaration isn’t given lightly. I know he’s against superhero marriage (we’ve even debated it over Twitter and he was a lot nicer about it than other Marvel creators defending the end of the Spider-Marriage) but if this is any indication he hates married couples in comics period. Why did they have to be split up? Heck, did they even need to be brought back if he’s just going to ruin their happy ending and undo their evolution into a couple?  Yeah, I know, couples split up all the time, but that doesn’t mean every marriage in fiction needs to be undone if they’re allowed to happen at all. I don’t see any real benefit here. I am not happy with this decision and do not see the point of it.

Update: If you look in the comments Mr. Busiek himself dropped by to clarify, both on his supermarriage thoughts (which I oversimplified apparently) and on the ending of Happy and Pepper’s marriage. Apparently I have writers who came before him to blame for this decision and he simply came up with actual reasons. I’m still not happy that the marriage was ended, but he does note in his comments that he used the opportunity to bring them together as part of Tony’s theme of rebuilding after Heroes Reborn. I think I’ve just seen too many reunion movies and sequels where they break the couple up (Ghostbusters and the Antonio Banderas/Catherine Zeta Jones Zorro movies come to mind) just to bring them together again like they did in the first movie or original TV show rather than let us see where their relationship is now as they’ve grown closer. It’s a reunion plot point I honestly never want to see again…although I know I totally will.

Recommendation: A good story thus far and worth picking up due to it’s importance in Tony’s life and the debut of two new characters, Rumiko and the new Firebrand.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

5 responses »

  1. kurtbusiek says:

    I’m not “against superhero marriage” — I don’t think Spider-Man should be married, but that’s not the same thing as thinking no superheroes should be married — and even if I was, Happy and Pepper aren’t superheroes.

    I don’t recall the details at this point, but if I remember correctly, Happy and Pepper were already estranged by the time I took over, I just supplied a reason for it. Had I stayed on the book long enough, they’d have gotten back together.

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    • So my problem goes further back then? They did end up back together later on…only for Happy to be killed off, which annoys me even more. I thank you for the clarification. Whomever is at fault I don’t agree with the decision to push them apart. If you ended up in the crossfire I’m sorry for that.

      Weren’t you also against Clark and Lois being wed? I do apologize if I oversimplified your point of view on this matter. I know when we’ve debated over Twitter it was on supermarriages you didn’t mind see going and I disagreed on the matter.

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      • kurtbusiek says:

        I really don’t remember much of the decision-making process, but as I recall, Happy and Pepper’s relationship had been a mess (plus they had kids they hadn’t been married long enough to have, the number of which fluctuated), so I figured that the drama of rueful rebuilding would be a good ongoing undercurrent in the series. Happy, in particular, does great rueful.

        I’m not wild about Superman being married either, for different reasons (but I think I made both marriages work decently when I wrote them). But I got no problem with the Flash being married, with the Hawks being married, with Reed and Sue being married, Cyclops and Marvel Girl, Ralph and Sue and plenty of others. It’s not a formula thing, superheroes shouldn’t be all treated the same — it depends on the character and the series, not on the genre.

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