Not Justin Hammer. Not the army of supervillains in his employ.
No… Demon In A Bottle reveals Iron Man’s greatest foe is… alcohol.
Published by: Marvel
Written by: Bob Layton & David Michelinie
Art by: Carmine Infantino, Bob Layton & John Romita Jr.
Collects: Iron Man #120 – 128
PLOT: Tony Stark – Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.
For years, Tony Stark has lived a double life as a high-tech knight in shining armour, the Invincible Iron Man. But as Iron Man faces off against his newest foe, Justin Hammer, an army of supervillains, Namor the Submariner and the looming threat of a Stark International buyout, Tony’s growing addiction threatens to do more damage to everything he’s built than any costumed supervillain ever could!
REVIEW: Comics like this one make it obvious how the medium has endured for as long as it has.
While Demon in a Bottle may not have the same cultural relevance as say, The Dark Knight Returns, it is fairly clear when reading that, for Iron Man at least, it’s just as important. Elements of the story clearly influence all three Iron Man movies, with Iron Man 2 in particular drawing off of this comic heavily.
Further, the events of this comic are continuously referenced throughout Iron Man’s history, as this comic (and real-life), make it clear that overcoming an addiction isn’t a one and done story, but a constant battle.
In introducing this component into the mix that is Iron Man, Bob Layton and David Michelinie manage to humanise the Armoured Avenger effectively, despite the hectic array of powers his old armours posses (sticking to walls, tractor beams, magnetic field manipulation, roller skates?!). It manages to find that perfect balance between telling a jovial and entertaining story, but with suitably sombre moments that highlight the severity of Iron Man’s plight.
It’s interesting because while these stories did exist back in the sixties, seventies and eighties, older comics are often remembered for their more goofy antics, and while there is no shortage of those here, the entire comic feels suitably mature. The jokes and humourous dialogue from side/minor characters are actually amusing, and often witty, as opposed to the forced quirkiness prevalent in modern comics.
There are also moments that are generally shocking in how serious they are. While I wasn’t expecting a happy-go-lucky tale by any means, the extent of the threats Iron Man faces in this story really do take their toll on Tony Stark, and that’s even without the alcohol.
While it does seem (at first anyway) like the writers aren’t always pushing this story as far as it can go, and in some ways, things are resolved a bit too easily, over the space of nine issues, Layton and Michelinie tell an array of interesting, thoughtful and entertaining interlinked tales that every Iron Man fan should read.
Bonus points to the art team for basing Justin Hammer’s appearance on Peter Cushing. I could hear his voice as I read it and it truly did enhance the experience.
All-in-all, I give Demon in a Bottle…
Thanks for reading! What’s your favourite type of comic story? One that examines serious issues, or one that embraces the fantasy and goofiness? Let me know in the comments below!
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