Iron-Man has had an incredible rise in popularity over the past ten years. A solid B-Lister in the early 2000s, the character has risen through the ranks to become a name that draws in billions worldwide.
But it’s not all glitz and glamor. Those familiar with the character will know that he has a dark past and one that is as complex as the suits of armour that he wear.
Demon In A Bottle is a graphic novel that I’ve heard tonnes about but never actually read. Often placed at the top of ‘Greatest Iron-Man Comics Ever’ this one has a reputation that precedes it.
But does it live up to the hype?
That’s what I’m here to find out!
Throughout this review I will be discussing Iron-Man: Demon In A Bottle to let you know whether it’s worth picking up. There will be heavy spoilers so it may be worth skipping to the score if you want to go in with fresh eyes.
With that out the way let’s dive into Demon In A Bottle.
I Don’t Wanna Do This Namor
Opening on a showdown between The Invincible Iron-Man and Marvel Mainstay The Submariner, the book instantly showcases why Tony Stark’s life could lead to alcoholism.
Whilst the dialogue, art and story are heavily dated, older readers will find a lot to love here (even if younger ones struggle with it).
What the book expertly does is that it interjects Tony’s origin story into the midsection and this is arguably one of the best tellings of how he came to be Iron-Man. Fans of the 2008 film will find a lot to love here and it’s great to see how the film was inspired by many aspects that are present in this book. It’s a little twee by the end but the morality and character-defining arc in it still stands strong and makes Iron-Man likable and relatable. This makes the book instantly essential for diehard fans and those who love the Invincible Iron-Man should view it as required reading for the origin story alone.
The mid section deals with Tony’s constant struggle to maintain his double life and the pressures of being attacked by his Rogue’s Gallery. Whilst the writing, art and battles are extremely dated by today’s standards, the message they carry is everlasting. This is a man far out of his comfort zone that has an almost infinite amount of money and the melting pot of stress and fatigue contribute to the fact that Tony Stark is suffering from alcoholism.
After being framed for murder, he really hits the bottle hard. Having to turn in his suit whilst he investigates the crime, Stark is left at his most vulnerable and turns to his biggest vice in a way like never before. It’s heartbreaking to watch him lose all self-control and drink the pain away and those who have been affected by alcoholism will find a lot to relate to here.
We learn that the plot was orchestrated by Justin Hammer and though fans of the movie may relish seeing his return, he does little more than appear as a villain in a spinning chair. Those who enjoy the ‘James Bond’ aesthetic may find his elaborate hideout, plansplaining and demeanour enjoyable. However, I found it slightly underwhelming and it’s something that diverts from the main thrust of the plot which is Tony dealing with addiction.
The battle between Hammer’s henchmen and Iron-Man is rather predictable but it all leads into the final act which is where the interest of most readers will lie.
Demon In A Bottle
Stark survives the onslaught and saves the day. However, the victory is a rather hollow one. After getting paralytically drunk, Tony lashes out at Jarvis, his friends and more, resulting in the destruction of many relationships that took years to build.
The titular chapter doesn’t disappoint and feels like the biggest battle that The Iron-Man has ever faced.
It’s enthralling to watch Tony completely break down and the road to recovery is a fascinating one that cements this book as one of the greatest struggles we have ever seen the character go through.
Those who are close to the dangers of alcoholism will find a lot to love here and it’s an inspiring piece that shows that no matter how close you are to the edge, there is always another way.
Whilst Demon In A Bottle has aged badly in art, pacing and dialogue, the subtext that exists within it is timeless. This is a redemption story that triumphantly tells the tale of a man falling down and finding his footing once more.
It should be considered required reading for those who adore the character and the minor price tag that it goes for definitely means that readers should pick it up when given the opportunity.
Sure the presentation no longer holds up but there is still a great moral to be had here and that’s why it gets a…