Reviews: Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle

Published on September 28th, 2010

It’s that time again! It’s Trade Tuesday and this week we have a special Trade Review, in honor of the DVD and Blu Ray release of Iron Man 2 we’re going to be taking a look at the classic Iron Man story: Demon in a Bottle. This trade collects Iron Man 120 through 128 written by David Michelinie, and Bob Layton and drawn by John Romita Jr, Bob Layton and Carmine Infantino.

The first part of the story involves Iron Man in a team up with Namor where they fight off what at first is believed to be the U.S. military, but turns out are industrialists who are after the vibranium deposits in the island. Meanwhile SHIELD is trying to purchase the controlling interest of Stark International. After putting a stop to that Tony goes into a deep reflection which causes him to recount the origin of Iron Man. When Tony returns home he attempts to take a break with his current girlfriend, Beth, but he ends up being thrown into a superhero battle with Whiplash and a couple others. This fight also gives Tony the first hint of Justin Hammer who has found a way to control the Iron Man. The story continues with Iron Man working security for a ceremony involving an ambassador at the U.N. The ambassador is a huge fan of Iron Man and asks to get a picture with the hero, but as the picture is taken Hammer uses his computers to take control of the armor and kill the ambassador.

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If SHIELD trying to take over Stark International wasn’t enough Tony now has the death of an innocent man on his conscience and quickly turns to alcohol.  Tony then decides he needs to clear Iron Man’s name, so Tony goes to his friends for some help. He gets some combat training from Captain America and sends Ant-Man to get some information from Whiplash who is currently in prison. Tony then heads off to find some information on his own when he ends up being kidnapped and brought to Hammer’s floating factory on the ocean. There Tony learns how his armor was being controlled and also learns that Hammer has almost every super-villain in his back pocket by funding them and taking a percentage of their criminal profits. Tony gets his spare armor and with the help of some local police is able to stop all the super-villains and get the proof he needs to clear Iron Man.

Tony may have cleared Iron Man of murder, but he still has to deal with the guilt of the man’s death and the public’s fear of Iron Man. Tony really starts to hit the bottle and in doing so almost ruins his relationship with Beth and causes Jarvis, Tony’s servant and friend for over twenty years, to turn in his resignation. Beth doesn’t give up on Tony and spends several days with him to help him get a hold of his alcoholism. Later Tony goes to Jarvis and asks him to stay, Jarvis agrees but confesses to selling his Stark International stock to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses. Tony attempts to get the stock back, but it had already been sold to the government. With SHIELD now owning the controlling interest in Tony’s company Tony heads for a bottle, but after realizing what he’s about to do sets the bottle down.

If you’re a fan of Iron Man I would highly recommend this book, and if you’re new to Iron Man this is probably a good book to start with. The story really captures the history and the character of Iron Man, and it can give you a good idea of the other characters like Rhodey, and Justin Hammer. But if you are going to read this be aware it’s kind of dated. Tony wears leisure suits, and Rhodey has a bit of an afro going on. The comic is also written in that old style where the characters say everything they’re about to do. An example of this is when a villain known as Stiletto is fighting Iron Man and he says “I know my knives can’t cut through your armor, but if I sling enough of them, some are bound to get in through the holes in your mask.” Iron Man then lowers the Plexiglas in his mask to protect himself. This style makes everything seem kind of cheesy and the cornball villains like Stiletto and The Porcupine don’t help the situation, but how the writers deal with Tony’s alcohol abuse is written very well and more than makes up for anything you might find cheesy in the story. It’s also cool to see John Romita Jr’s art so early in his career. At a quick glance it’s hard to recognize, but there are some panels were there’s no doubt who it is. Bottom line Demon in a Bottle is an important story in the history of Iron Man and every fan should read it and you can pick it up at Amazon for $18.24 which is a pretty good deal considering it contains nine issues.

Ken Zeider
Ken@ComicImpact.com