Iron Man: The Iron Age #1
Marvel Comics (August, 1998)
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Patrick Zircher
INKER: Bob McLeod
COLORIST: Glynis Oliver
DESIGN/LETTERING: Comicraft (John Marasigan credited for design, no individual lettering credit)
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Polly Watson
EDITOR: Bobbie Chase
A story from the early days. Pepper Potts was a secretary working for Stark Industries when Howard and Maria Stark were killed, secretly by members of a rival company, who wanted to use Tony Stark’s inexperience and unwillingness to handle the business side of SI in a bid to take it over. To push things along a saboteur good enough to call herself The Saboteur was sent in to cause more problems. Tony first hid in alcohol or his lab. Then the events that turned him into Iron Man happened and unknown to Pepper he was hiding in that as the business fell further. Just as he considered selling the company Pepper showed him the human side of his business. Not only did this push him to focus on the business end as well, Iron Man ended up taking down The Saboteur.
What they got right: This story is told from Pepper’s point of view (the next and final issue will continue on with Happy) and it is a good showing of Pepper’s early years more than Iron Man’s. It’s about her trying to deal with Tony and not so much save the company herself but encourage him to do it. While we get glimpses of Iron Man’s early years it’s about the company, which may not work for a regular superhero series but is a good idea for a miniseries based on a regular series. (Modern Marvel take note.) The art is also really good and there’s a good use of coloring in the flashbacks as well as the overall story. There’s are also some good emotional moments as Pepper sees how Tony affects everyone around him that she sees.
What they got wrong: It’s been some time since I’ve read the old Tales of Suspense Iron Man stories (I have the black & white reprint books that just have Iron Man’s stories and the first few issues of Iron Man’s first solo comic) but I don’t recall Tony having a fiancé. Maybe this was added into the history sometime later but this is news to me. It feels like she’s there to show how Tony changed since the fateful meeting with Wong Chu. I had to research to find her full story, that she actually left because she’d be in the way of Tony’s plan to become the superhero Iron Man, but that doesn’t show it up and it looks more like (and granted this is probably how Pepper saw it) Tony is driving her off. Having not seen the one other comic she shows up in (a side story at that) it’s rather confusing, although good Busiek remembered her.
Recommendation: A good first half and Roxxon has another plan we’ll see next issue. This one is worth checking out for Iron Fans.