- Gene's mother (flashback only)
- Invisible Woman (Mentioned)
- Maria Stark (Referenced)
- Iron Man Armor MK II
- Space Armor
- Stark Solutions X-51 Stealth Infiltrator Armor (First appearance) Stealth Armor
- Quantum Dot Energy Field Suppressor
Gene has a flashback to his childhood, where his dreams were visions of dragons and magical rings. His mother tells him his dreams are prophesies about his destiny.
At the armory, Rhodey and Tony surprise a blindfolded Pepper with her own new armor! Before they can waste her time with instructions, she eagerly takes it for a spin. They take after her to prevent harm to the city while she haphazardly fires weapons into the air. Then, Tony's satellite detects Makluan energy signatures flaring up in China. The gang lie to their respective parents to enable them to be away for a while. Howard suspects Tony is hiding something... but Tony feels the same way about him - the blueprints Howard are working on look suspiciously like a weapon. After Tony storms off, Howard's staff call him about an odd Starktech satellite they have no record of launching - Tony's Makluan energy scanner!
Gene is seen travelling through the bamboo forests of his childhood, where he summons forth the final temple.
Team Iron Man travel towards China. Tony, still angry, flies ahead, but must soon dodge incoming missiles. Rhodey suggests he makes plans instead of letting his emotions get away with him. He uses Extremis to make the fighters chase false targets, and they quickly make their way to the temple. Inside, Gene is trapped in a labyrinth, frustrated to not have Howard Stark's knowledge to draw on... he recognizes the sound of boot jets outside. He attacks the heroes as they enter, but is momentarily distracted to see Pepper armored up. They knock him through a wall, and into the ring's chamber. But as he attempts to pick it up, a large sphere activates and a six-eyed reptilian man steps out. It explains to him that he has the Dragonseed within him, making him part Makluan. He tells of the Makluan Overlord, who used the rings for tyranny and destruction, until he one day stole the rings and made his escape. On Earth, he found the primitive humans to have great promise, and gave the Dragonseed to a brave man, the noble Khan. It altered his DNA, allowing he and his descendants to use the rings.
The original Mandarin hid the rings away, fearing his children would use them for ill. Gene believes himself worthy, but the Makluan guardian is not so sure, in Gene's mind he sees much darkness. The two battle, and Mandarin uses the ninth ring's sandstorm powers to surprise the Guardian. Mandarin kicks the guardian around, speaking about his birthright and how he will bring order to the chaos of the world. Team Iron Man decide to intervene, shooting him with everything they have, knocking him out. The Guardian is surprised at their help, and, looking inside their minds he finds Pepper far more worthy than Gene was. The Mandarin recovers, zapping out War Machine and Iron Man. Pepper goes into stealth, but Mandarin soon overpowers her. He unleashes more and more ring powers, until he defeats the Guardian, who dissolves after he takes the ring. Power courses through Gene, he feels he can see anything, do anything. His first goal is to annihilate Iron Man - but he is shot in the back by Howard! Howard tells Tony to cut the charades, he recognized the armor design as Tony's from the first time he saw it. The weapon he was designing was an energy suppressor designed specifically to inhibit the Makluan rings' powers. However, Gene struggles to his feet and alters reality to delete the suppressor.
Howard taunts Gene, motivating him to prove that he can be a good guy. He takes off. Howard turns towards the heroes, somewhat indicating he was bluffing when saying he knew it who Iron Man was. Pepper says she'll call herself Rescue from now on. Safe for now, they fear what Gene will do - having all ten rings might just about make him the most powerful being in the universe!
One of Pepper's name ideas for herself is Armorita, but she fears it would be too awesome.
- This was Pepper's first appearance as Rescue.
- Pepper's Rescue armor is dark purple and white, instead of red and white as in the comics.
- Pepper mentions the Invisible Woman.
- Rhodey suggesting with Tony should "lead with" the hacking the jets and turning them around is similar to his line in Iron Man 2 where he talks about Tony's laser cutters.