2020 Rescue #1 is a rare species of a comic: an event tie-in that is emotionally poignant, entertaining, and you don’t have to be following said event to understand what’s going on. I haven’t read of the “Iron Man 2020” stuff, but I might now. Writer Dana Schwartz, artists Jacen Burrows and Scott Hanna, and colorist Pete Pantazis spin the ballad of Pepper Potts as she reflects on always being the “Girl Friday” in Tony Stark’s life while also finding a way to clone him using his mother, Amanda Armstrong’s (From International Iron Man), DNA so he can help quell the A.I. uprising. So, the plot’s a little wacko, but Schwartz and Burrows make it work thanks to a story that focuses on Pepper’s feelings and has a good dose of the pew, pew armored suit action.
Jacen Burrows is an artist, who has previously worked with comics legends Alan Moore and Warren Ellis on books for Avatar Press, and his more unrestrained approach to comics comes out in a scene where the instruments in Amanda’s music studio have gone wonky and are sorting out how to make pop music. It’s a nice bit of comedy in the midst of all the gloom, and he and Dana Schwartz make the joke pay off in a big way during the mandatory fight scene. But what Burrows is really gifted at is staging conversations between people in an interesting way, and the panel where Pepper looks away and talks about missing her deceased husband, Happy Hogan, really hits hard. He and Schwartz use beat panels really well for emphasis like when Amanda takes a breath to explain her complex relationship to Tony Stark.
Also, as advertised, 2020 Rescue #1 features more visceral thrills of Pepper Potts blasting away HYDRA drones and getting to be badass and superhero in her own right instead of making reservations for Tony Stark and getting talked over. Burrows really amps up the fight scenes with tilting panels disrupting the usual smooth grids and jagged edges bleeding into the gutter. Pete Pantazis’ color palette also intensifies even though it doesn’t really add much to the story. I do like his use of green in the music studio scenes to give everything an eerie, not-quite-right feel, and with the London setting, give the whole sequence an almost Doctor Who special, but trade out sonic screwdrivers for battle suits.
2020 Rescue #1 is a fantastic demonstration of the kind of story potential that can happen in superhero comics when female characters aren’t fridged or sidelined and have agency and complex emotions. As he seems to be the center of this “Iron Man 2020” event, Tony Stark is mentioned quite a bit and is integral to the plot, but Dana Schwartz and Jacen Burrows give about 90% of the spotlight to Pepper Potts and Amanda Armstrong. 2020 Rescue explores mortality (Amanda musing on how her music hasn’t been on the radio.), relationships with problematic men, and has time to kick ass too. It’s worth picking up if you’re any kind of Pepper Potts fan or enjoyed International Iron Man even if you aren’t following Iron Man 2020 as a whole.
Story: Dana Schwartz Art: Jacen Burrows with Scott Hanna
Colors: Pete Pantazis Letters: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review