In May, Marvel comics released Rescue #1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Andrea Mutti. It’s part of Marvel’s Year of Women, or Women of Marvel, that Marvel is doing but publicizing very badly. (I am completely baffled as to why this didn’t get a huge press release, interviews with newspapers and library associations, and press releases to educators and organizations devoted to guiding kids.) The comics are great, though. Here at Fantastic Fangirls, we nearly wrestled in email over who was going to get to review Rescue #1. We all loved it.
Marvel has apparently put out an image of a variant cover for Invincible Iron Man #29, featuring Rescue. She looks great. I mean, she looks awesome and kickass. This quickly developed into a small Tweet-fest yesterday regarding how very, very much a certain segment of us would read the hell out of a monthly comic about Pepper Potts as Rescue, written by Kelly Sue.
Which made me ponder: why isn’t this happening?
Don’t get me wrong — I love Invincible Iron Man right now. And I truly appreciate how Matt Fraction is writing Pepper. Not just Pepper, but Maria Hill and the other kick-ass women who regularly grace the pages of IIM. But if Wolverine can be in EVERY comic EVER, surely Pepper could squeeze in a superheroing career in addition to her duties to IIM?
Pepper Potts as Rescue is … well, is kind of a character to whom some women are mighty sympathetic. She is, to describe it in marketing terms that make me cringe a little, a character for girls. (I actually would describe her as a character for anyone who likes women, but I am not in marketing.) Rescue has a superpowered suit — but it has no weapons. She’s not about dominating the world. She’s not about exerting her version of right or wrong on anyone. Rescue is about making a positive impact in ordinary people’s lives. She flies around and rescues people. How many little girls want to be veterinarians? How many want to be doctors? How many want to be firefighters? And how many of the girls who want those things must placate their desires by reading about boys who engage in those tasks?
Rescue is, as all superheroes are, both a fantasy of power and a placation of human insecurity. Look what great things I can do! What if it’s not enough? What if I am not enough? And there, on the page, Pepper Potts is managing to pull through at the last minute, in the nick of time. She’s good enough to be Rescue. She’s worth wearing the suit. She has the power and she wields it not to beat anybody up, but to save kids and dogs and old people and stupid thoughtless teenagers.
Making comics that attract new readers, and attract women, is a constant conversation in the portion of the internet devoted to comics. Writing a comic that features a female lead who is emotionally strong; whose origin story as a superhero is not rape, abuse, or slavery; who engages in heroic acts to save ordinary people; who is older, a role model, a woman who has lived through a lot of pain and grief and is still around to fight the good fight — this seems ideally suited to Marvel’s needs. Rescue, the comic, can start off with only a modicum of continuity-based background — Pepper was married to Happy, he died, she’s a long-time friend of the ever-difficult Tony Stark, romantic with him when it works for them, brilliant, a little insecure. This works. This works well. It’s a vision of being a girl and being a superhero that a twelve- or thirty-seven-year-old could aspire to.
So, where is this comic, Marvel? Where is my ongoing Rescue title, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick?
You don’t have to be damaged or broken to be a hero. You don’t have to survive atrocity. You don’t have to be born special or a freak. You, you out there, you can be a hero because it’s the right thing to do. Because you are strong enough. You can do it — just like Pepper Potts.
Email: sigrid @ fantasticfangirls.org