Tony Stark, the first Iron Man, was an alcoholic.
Those who only know the character from the MCU might be surprised to discover just how self-destructive of an addict Tony Stark was. Though elements of the classic “Demon in a Bottle” storyline were used in Iron Man 2, Tony’s alcoholism was only referenced in one scene and it was largely played for laughs. In the movies, Tony was irresponsible but in the comics, he was so self-destructive that he often could not be trusted with the suit that he created.
Tony’s alcoholism was first addressed in 1979, in a nine-issue story arc that is best-remembered for the issue where Tony finally decides to stop drinking. Unlike a lot of Marvel’s story arcs, Tony’s alcoholism was not forgotten after the conclusion of the initial story. Instead, it was a problem that flared up frequently over the next few years. Whenever Tony ran into any sort of personal or business trouble, he would be tempted to pick up the bottle again and often, he would give in. One reason why other people started to wear the Iron Man armor was because Tony was often too drunk to do so himself.
Finally, 5 years after Tony first realized that he had a drinking problem, this happened:
In the morning, Tony Stark will be sober or dead. This cover, which was done by Luke McDonnell and Steve Mitchell, is one of the best to come out of Iron Man‘s initial run. Along with the imagery of one man sitting alone in the snow, the cover reminds us that Iron Man is just a human being and, like all human beings, Tony Stark is going to have to make an important decision. Will he do the hard work to improve himself or will he give up.
Caught out in the middle of blizzard and helping to deliver the baby of a fellow alcoholic, Tony makes his decision. Though the freezing temperatures kill his friend Gretl, Tony manages to survive and he finally does the one thing that he still needed to do to kick his addiction. He asked his friends for help. From this issue on, it was not unusual to see Tony Stark at AA. Tony still struggled but, in Iron Man #182, he finally made the decision to live.
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