“Give Me A Scotch, I’m Starving”

Billionaire entrepreneur, genius inventor, playboy extraordinaire, these are all descriptive of one man.  His name is Tony Stark.  Tony Stark is also known as Iron Man, the armored hero who risks his life day in and day out for the benefit of mankind.  He is also a founding member of The Avengers.  Being bombarded with all these accolades, one can easily forget that Stark is but a man, with very human problems.  You see, Stark fell into the same dark hole that many others have fallen into, that of Alcoholism.  But why?  This is a man that has everything, fame, fortune, looks, and success.  But there is something that may have pushed Tony over the edge and into that deep cavern of alcohol abuse. 

Tony may have learned at an early age to deal with emotions in an inadequate way.  Stark, as many of you know, is a womanizing, thrill seeking guy.  These excessive behavior traits certainly indicate an inability to adequately express normal human emotions.  This inadequacy will logically make its way into Stark’s life in regards to stress.  This leads us to the quintessential Iron Man story, and quite possibly one of the best comic book storylines of all time, Demon in a Bottle.  In this tale, we see Stark’s increasing propensity to reach for the bottle when encountering stress.  While representing Stark International during a meeting with an ambassador, the Iron Man armor malfunctions and fires off a repulsor ray, killing the ambassador.  This is the beginning of Tony’s downward spiral.  Stark relinquishes his armor to the authorities so they can investigate the malfunction, and he agrees to step down as leader of The Avengers.

At this point in the story, Stark is already using alcohol as a coping mechanism.  Soon afterward, he berates his faithful friend and butler Jarvis, thus prompting Jarvis to resign.  A rival CEO, Justin Hammer, is revealed as the culprit behind the malfunction in Iron Man’s armor, and is defeated.  Tony Stark soon realizes that Hammer is not the true enemy.  Despite his victory, Stark still continues to drink, digging himself deeper into an abyss of self-loathing and despair.  As he flies out of the window of his office, intoxicated, he happens to come across a train derailment.  The train has derailed, but no fatalities are reported and the chlorine gas aboard one of the cars is still contained.  The authorities seem to have it under control, when Iron Man comes on the scene and attempts to help.  Still intoxicated, Iron Man attempts to pick up the car containing the deadly chlorine gas and but does not take into account the weight.  The bar snaps, sending the car hurdling to the ground, causing a break in the chlorine gas tank.  Upon realizing what he has done, Iron Man flees the scene.  He arrives back at his office disappointed in himself once again and continues drinking.  He is then confronted by a friend and agrees that he has a problem and seeks help.  Afterwards, it is revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. has controlling interest in Stark International, and this sends Tony back into a dark place and we nearly see him lapse, and quite possibly relapse.  However, he regains his composure and puts the bottle down. 

Tony Stark’s initial reaction to losing controlling interest of Stark International not only proves that he has an alcohol dependency issue, but it clearly shows what his trigger for abusing alcohol is.  Stark’s inability to deal with stress is what leads to his abusing alcohol.  But this goes much deeper than the inability to deal with stress.  It is Tony Stark’s inability to deal with human emotion in a normal way that leads to his abnormal and excessive expression of those emotions.

About Steven Brewer

I’m a lifelong comic book fan. Comics pulled me in at an early age, with influences ranging from Chris Claremont’s historic X-Men run, Walt Simonson’s Thor run, Mike Zeck’s run on The Punisher limited series, Jim Lee’s X-Men, the early 90’s X-Men animated series, and the best cartoon ever made, Batman: The Animated Series. As a kid, these comics and cartoons gave me a new world to go to when the real world wasn’t so nice. Because of this, comic books will always have a special place in my heart. I love everything about comics, and still get the same feeling reading them today as I did when I was a kid. My major in college was psychology, so I love to incorporate that into comics.
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