Demons coming in bottles

Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle TPB
Writer: David Michelinie
Artist: Bob Layton

February 19, 2016

By Avi Green

In the Bronze Age, there came along a storyline that introduced a new adversary for Tony Stark as Iron Man, and also gave him some more character depth as a recovering alcoholic. As a paperback, that story was named after the last issue reprinted in the collection, at the time Marvel slowly beginning to take advantage of the trade market.

Tony’s been introduced to the smoking hot redhead Bethany Cabe, head of her own security firm, and has been menaced by a couple of his rogues gallery members in Monaco. But it turns out there’s somebody else behind the scenes who’s been bankrolling their weapons and technology for a cut of the loot they make in their crime sprees, and Tony eventually finds out that it’s a mysterious millionaire named Justin Hammer, who has his own resources and technology to use for his domineering goals.

It all leads to a secret headquarters out at sea, and a showdown with several of the adversaries at once, as Tony tries to put Hammer’s initial crime venture out of business. And a very exciting adventure too.

Towards the end, that’s where Tony has to confront his own alcoholism, and how to avoid slurping up all that horrible whiskey and such that’s put him at risk of insanity. And that too makes for one of the most impressive moments in Marvel history, as a guy tries to overcome alcohol addiction. Personally, I’ve never understood what some people see in junk like whiskey, beer or brandy, because they have such a spicy, aggravating taste, particularly the former, that I want nothing to do with that kind of alcohol. It so happens I’m on medication that keeps me from drinking “dry” forms of alcohol anyway, and that’s why, while I’m fine with wine, which is probably the least intoxicating form of alcohol, I have to drink sweet flavored brands.

As an early collection of a Marvel story, this is one of the best stories they published at a time when decent folks were in charge, unlike the inmates running the asylum today. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Copyright 2016 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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