Best 1979 Adventures (10)
December 14, 2019
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1979 adventure novels.
The IRON MAN story “Demon in a Bottle” (serialized March–November 1979).
The nine-issue story arc of Iron Man #120-128, plotted by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, with script by Michelinie, introduced readers to the armor-clad superhero’s most insidious foe yet: his own alcoholism. Illustrated by John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton, with an assist on one issue from Carmine Infantino, “Demon in a Bottle” begins with the usual sort of action: Prince Namor hurls a tank through the air, which clips a passenger jet carrying Tony Stark — who dons his Iron Man suit and saves the day. He confronts, then teams up with Namor — once he discovers that Namor is defending an island’s inhabitants against an oil company. Stark’s Iron Man suit begins to malfunction, mysteriously; he ends up accidentally killing a foreign ambassador, and is forced to step down as the Avengers’ leader. It turns out that Justin Hammer — an evil version of Stark, who makes his first appearance here — is the saboteur, but that’s almost beside the point. Stark’s drinking is out of control! He’s confronted by his girlfriend, the badass Bethany Cabe (later, head of security for Stark Enterprises), who offers him some much-needed emotional support. With Bethany’s encouragement, Stark gains the confidence to overcome his drinking problem, maintain control of his company, and return to action.
Fun facts: “Demon in a Bottle” has been recognized by critics as “the quintessential Iron Man story,” and “one of the best superhero sagas of the 1970s.” “Demon in a Bottle” was originally the title of the story’s final issue; when the story was first collected in paperback form, it was instead titled “The Power of Iron Man.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.