Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Profile: Pepper Potts

Virginia "Pepper" Potts
First appearance: Tales of Suspense #45, 1963. She was executive secretary for Tony Stark/Iron Man and his business firms. She’d been married to another of his employees, Harold “Happy” Hogan for a time, but later divorced.

Current status: working in other businesses today, she still maintains some connections with Tony Stark.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: the only storyline I know of where Pepper was given the PC treatment was in Iron Man #52-54, when she was brutally beaten by a woman of Muslim background (!) from a Chechnya-like country named Ayisha with whom Tony had a brief affair with at one point, who fell victim to the effects of one of Tony’s own inventions, a “living” form of armor, and because it was preventing her from maintain any proper life, and also making it hard for her to commit suicide, so she sought to try and push him over the edge by going to Pepper’s house and assaulting her, and, worst of all, terminating a pregnancy Pepper had in the story.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Aside from the fact that the Religion of Peace was being used as a whitewashed plot device in all of this, Pepper herself was also being used as a plot device, with the notorious cliché of an ill-fated pregnancy also figuring into the script. The story with Ayisha was also abandoned pretty quickly, as this all turned out to be an excuse for Tony to fight a son of the Mandarin who didn’t even don the electro-rings that made the Mandarin the challenge he was to begin with, and then to unmask his secret identity, an idea that was all but subsequently discarded. Presumably, it was also written so that Pepper and Tony could rekindle their relationship yet again, but Mike Grell, who’d written the whole quagmire, was taken off the book about a year afterwards, which is just as well.

With the way he wrote this, Grell proved even less convincing as a writer than when he wrote Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. Pepper deserves much better than what Grell wrote in Iron Man.


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