Pepper Potts, from issue 6 of The Order.
Art by Barry Kitson.
|First appearance||(As Pepper Potts)
Tales of Suspense # 45, September 1963
The Invincible Iron Man #11 (May 2009)
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Full name||Virginia 'Pepper' Potts|
|Team affiliations||The Order
|Supporting character of||Iron Man|
|Notable aliases||Hera, Rescue, Coast Guard|
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is a fictional supporting character and romantic love interest appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those featuring Iron Man. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck, she first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963).
In 2007, she joined the Fifty State Initiative under the codename Hera, and after being given her own suit of armor by Tony Stark, assumed the identity of Rescue in The Invincible Iron Man #10 (though she first identified herself as such in issue #14). In the 2012 storyline "The Future", Pepper returns to her civilian life following her destruction of J.A.R.V.I.S., the artificial intelligence that helped her control her Rescue armor, after its compromise led it to go rogue and attempt to kidnap her.
Fictional character biography
|This section may be slanted towards recent events. (December 2012)|
Pepper, originally in the secretarial pool, gets her job by fixing an accounting mistake made by Stark himself. Pepper is originally infatuated with Tony and responds to the attentions of Stark's chauffeur and assistant Happy Hogan with caustic remarks. This, almost immediately after her first appearance, coupled with Stark's growing affection for her, puts her in a love triangle between Stark and Hogan. Pepper is for a time interested in Iron Man, unaware that he and Stark are the same person. However, she eventually falls in love with and marries Hogan, eloping with him in Tales of Suspense #91.
Pepper and Happy eventually leave Stark Industries, settling in the Rocky Mountains and then finally in Cleveland, where they adopt children after being unable to conceive, and disappear from the main Iron Man storyline. After being kidnapped by Stark's rival, Obadiah Stane (aka the Iron Monger), Pepper tells Tony to stay out of their lives. Pepper and Happy soon divorce after she has an affair with a former college boyfriend. After Tony Stark's return from the Heroes Reborn universe, Pepper and Happy join Tony at his new company, Stark Solutions, and once again become core characters. After some time, Happy and Pepper once again became involved and remarry, eventually considering conceiving a child to supplement their adopted children. Stark entrusts Pepper with a special remote that could shut him down. However, Pepper, tortured by the responsibility is forced return it, and the trauma causes her to miscarry. Stark is able to deal with the remote, but feels guilty that he has placed her in such danger.
After Happy sustains massive injuries in a fight with Spymaster during the 2006-2007 "Civil War" storyline, Pepper requests that Tony turn off Happy's life support (using his Extremis abilities). The final pages of Invincible Iron Man (vol. 4) #14 shows the death of Happy; it is implied Tony complied with Pepper's request.
After the events of the "Civil War" storyline, Pepper joins the Fifty State Initiative as a member of The Order, a government sanctioned superhero team operating within California. She assumes the moniker of the Greek goddess Hera, and uses advanced computer hardware and prosthetics to monitor and coordinate the team's missions. Upon the absorption of The Order into the Initiative, Tony Stark offers her a job on the special projects team at Stark Enterprises, which she accepts.[volume & issue needed]
2008 - present
Pepper Potts resumes her activities as personal secretary of Tony Stark. When Pepper is caught in a terrorist explosion caused by Ezekiel Stane, she sustains multiple internal injuries, including shrapnel wounds, and rendered unable to withstand a prolonged surgery. In response, Tony embeds a strong magnet (similar in appearance to the arc reactor of the movie) in her chest, essentially turning Pepper into a cyborg dependent on keeping her chest magnet engaged to stay alive, as he was once.
When Tony is blamed for the Skrull invasion of Earth that occurs in the 2008 storyline "Secret Invasion", S.H.I.E.L.D. is taken over by Norman Osborn, replaced with H.A.M.M.E.R., and Stark and Maria Hill are fired, along all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s employees. Tony realizes that Osborn is after the identities of superhumans that registered with the government following the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act that occurred during the "Civil War" storyline, which is stored in a database in his brain. Stark decides to go underground with Hill, and to wipe the knowledge in his own brain. Stark makes Pepper the new CEO of Stark Industries, trusting only her to shut down the company in his absence. Pepper discovers a secret room in Stark's office which contains a suit of armor that he made especially for her, which she uses under the name Rescue. Though Osborn has seized all Stark Industries facilities and equipment, Pepper states that all components of her armor are legal and that the design specifications are available to anyone. Despite Osborn threatening her loved ones with prison if she interferes with his search for Tony or attempts any more heroic actions, after being freed she endeavors to find Tony herself. They are reunited in Russia, and consummate a now-sexual relationship, but are subsequently captured and tortured by Madame Masque, who was assigned by Norman Osborn to track Stark down. Stark admits that he had loved Masque in the past, but when pressed to make a choice, with his own life on the line, Tony chooses Pepper. Pepper decides to engage Masque in a physical altercation in order to provide a distraction for Stark to escape.
During the 2009 "World's Most Wanted Storyline" (which ran concurrently with Marvel's company-wide storyline "Dark Reign"), Pepper, after defeating Masque, disguises herself as the former, infiltrating H.A.M.M.E.R. while presenting the Rescue armor to Osborn as spoils of battle. Pepper reveals herself when she rescues Black Widow and Maria Hill from Osborn's imprisonment, while the Rescue suit uploads a virus into H.A.M.M.E.R.'s computers, taking control of the Helicarrier's armory of suits. They then retrieve the hard drive that Hill was assigned by Stark to get, escaping to give it to Captain America in order to restore Starks' mind. As part of "re-booting" Tony (who has gone into a vegetative state), the magnet in her chest is removed and placed into his.
Though Stark's memories are restored from a somewhat years-old backup, he no longer remembers the events of the "Civil War" nor his role in it, its aftermath or his affair with Pepper. Pepper survives the removal of her chest magnet, but demands that a new one similar to Tony's own chest repulsor be re-installed, which is done. Recovered, Stark also gifts Pepper with a new Rescue armor, complete with JARVIS.
During the 2011 "Stark Resilient" storyline, when Justine Hammer and her daughter Sasha Hammer use their own armored enforcer Detroit Steel to attempt to sabotage Stark Resilient (Tony's new company) and its design for a repulsor technology-powered vehicle, Pepper joins War Machine in helping Stark, during which Pepper experiences a near-death experience in which JARVIS, masquerading as Happy, gives Pepper a cryptic warning of the future.
In The Invincible Iron Man #500, in a flashforward to an apocalyptic future 41 years ahead where the Mandarin has conquered the world, an aged Tony defeats his long-time foe with the help of his son Howard Anthony Stark and his granddaughter Ginny Stark, but Howard and Tony sacrifice themselves in the process. At the close of the story, Ginny buries the two next to a gravestone with the name "Virginia Potts Stark". Howard is also said to be 41 years old, suggesting that he will be born within the following year.
Powers and abilities
The Stark-tech mag-field generator implanted in Pepper’s chest was not weapons-based like Stark's, but borrowed non-weaponized electromagnetic technology from Rand Industries, which caused a number of physical changes to her body. It cured her tinnitus, improving her hearing. It allows her to sense electromagentic fields, and manipulate them to levitate her body.
Potts' Stark-tech armor suit, which is designated Mark 1616, but named Rescue by Potts, represents a hybrid of repulsor technology and portable electromagnetic superfield generators that give the suit flight, speed, strength, and magnetic field manipulation. Its electromagentic forcefields are powerful enough to enable Rescue to stop a falling jet airliner without physical contact with it, and can also be used as an offensive weapon with other armored opponents. The suit's physical strength enables it to hold up a stilt mansion felled by an earthquake, and to rip the lower leg of the Black armor. The armor also features an artificial intelligence named J.A.R.V.I.S. that acts as a guide for Potts. During the 2012 storyline "The Future", Potts and Carson Wyche come to suspect that J.A.R.V.I.S. has been compromised, and when they attempt to troubleshoot the Rescue helmet, J.A.R.V.I.S. takes control of the Rescue armor, and takes Potts and Wyche hostage. J.A.R.V.I.S. is disabled by James Rhodes with a source-focused electromagnetic pulse from the Black armor, and eventually destroyed by Potts, ending her career as Rescue.
- In the Amalgam Comics Universe, DC Comics' Green Lantern and Marvel's Iron Man are combined to create Iron Lantern. Iron Lantern is secretly Hal Stark, owner of Stark Aircraft, a developer of experimental aircraft. One of his test pilots is Pepper Ferris (an amalgamation of Pepper Potts and DC's Carol Ferris). Like both her DC and Marvel counterparts, she is involved in a love triangle, this time with Stark and his chief mechanic Happy Kalmaku (an amalgamation of Marvel's Happy Hogan and DC's Thomas Kalmaku). When Pepper comes in contact with a mysterious alien gem, she is transformed into Madame Sapphire (a combination of Marvel's Madame Masque and DC's Star Sapphire). Pepper Ferris first appeared in Iron Lantern #1 (April 1997), published jointly by Marvel and DC.
- In the alternate universe of the "Heroes Reborn" storyline, Pepper and Iron Man are lovers, although she can also be seen in a relationship with Happy Hogan. Stark is forced to leave her unexpectedly and without explanation, as his very presence in the universe will endanger her life and the lives of everyone else.[volume & issue needed]
- Pepper appears in the Marvel Zombies universe in Marvel Zombies Return, having just submitted her resignation to Stark, who at this point is a near-useless drunk. However, when the zombie Giant Man initiates an outbreak at Stark International, Pepper and Happy are among the zombified casualties. She is killed by Stark when he vomits a nanite-ridden formula upon her, which dissolves Pepper into a skeleton.
- The Ultimate Universe version of the character can be seen during Ultimates 2. She and Happy (with whom she appears to be in a relationship) can be seen monitoring Tony when he uses the armor.
In other media
- Pepper Potts has appeared in the Invincible Iron Man segments of The Marvel Super Heroes voiced by Peg Dixon.
- Pepper Potts appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures voiced by Anna Cummer. In this incarnation, her first name is Patricia instead of being Virginia, and like Stark and Rhodes, she is a teenager who moved to New York after spending her childhood living in multiple countries because of her father's work as an FBI agent. Initially unaware of Iron Man's secret identity, she finally learns it after he saves her life from Mister Fix. After Pepper successfully demonstrates her ability and courage in operating the Stealth Armor (and after some intensive pestering from her side), Tony eventually creates a suit of armor for her own use, which she names Rescue.
- Pepper Potts has a few cameos in Marvel Anime: Iron Man, voiced by Hiroe Oka in the Japanese version and by Cindy Robinson in the English dub.
- Pepper Potts is mentioned in Ultimate Avengers 2.
- Pepper Potts appeared in The Invincible Iron Man voiced by Elisa Gabrielli with an apparent British accent.
- Gwyneth Paltrow portrays the character in the 2008 Iron Man feature film, the sequels, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, and in the 2012 film The Avengers.
- In the first film, Stark notes that she is virtually the only real friend he has at the company.
- In the second film, she is promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. She later resigns after Tony finds a cure for the palladium poisoning that was killing him.
- In The Avengers, Potts has become Tony's lover and partner in helping with the development of Stark Tower and the Arc Reactor.
- In Iron Man 3, Potts is once again the Stark Industries CEO. She is captured by Aldrich Killian so that he can have her become one of his test subjects for the Extremis process, but she is rescued by Tony. Her role in the comics as Rescue is also briefly implied when Stark makes her don his Mark 42 suit to save her life.
- Pepper Potts appears in Iron Man: Rise of Technovore voiced by Hiroe Oka in the Japanese version and by Kate Higgins in the English dub.
- Pepper Potts appears in the 2008 video game Iron Man and the 2010 game Iron Man 2, voiced by Meredith Monroe. These games are based on the films of the same name.
- Pepper Potts (in her Rescue armor) makes a cameo appearance in Strider Hiryu's ending in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 fighting against the Reavers.
- Pepper Potts as Rescue appears as an unlockable character in Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Pepper Potts as Rescue is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
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