Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: The Invincible Iron Man vol. 1, issue #170 – May 1983 (Marvel Comics)

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TITLE: The Invincible Iron Man vol. 1, issue #170

YEAR: May 1993

COMPANY: Marvel Comics

Written by Denny O’Neil

Penciler: Luke McDonnell

Inker: Steve Mitchell

Letterer: Rick Parker 

Colorist: Bob Sharen

Editor: Mark Gruenwald 

Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Growing up, as a child, one of the comics I loved reading was “Tales of Suspense” from a book I rented at our school library.  Featuring the adventures of Iron Man and Captain America, I loved reading the stories right before school and each time I brought it back to the library, I felt bummed because I wished that I owned those comic books.

Despite having many older comic books in my collection, I don’t own any of the earlier “Tales of Suspense” comic books but a reprint and if I looked back at one issue of “The Invincible Iron Man” that I know I read multiple times, it was issue #170.

During this time, Tony Stark was a major alcoholic.  So, messed up that he barely could function and he wouldn’t listen to anyone.  He just wanted to drink himself to oblivion.

And that left his friend, pilot and Stark International imployee James Rhodes to put on the Iron Man costume as Magma is destroying the building of Stark Industries.

Of course, James doesn’t know how to operate the suit and the only person he can turn to is the scientific whiz kid of Stark International, Morley Erwin to teach him the basics as quickly as possibly, so he can go out and fight Magma.  James learns about flying and using repulsors.

Meanwhile, Tony Stark’s nemesis, Stane is not thrilled that Magma is causing harm and not him, so he summons the Knight.

As Tony Stark awakens, he sees Magma attack Stark International and thinks an imposter Iron Man is fighting against him, but as Tony tries to open his case to get his Iron Man uniform, he can’t remember his combination to the lock and sees a bottle of liquor and goes to it in hopes to clear his head.

Magma enters Stark International and sees an inebriated Tony Stark and James manages to see him and a battle between James Rhodes as Iron Man vs. Magma takes place.

Overall, this issue just really hit home of how messed up Tony Stark was and for a comic book, it was a heavy topic to show one of America’s well-known characters to become an alcoholic and seeing his life torn apart by it.

It’s one thing to remember the Speedy heroin issue in issue #85 of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” (also written by Denny O’Neil) but reading and seeing Tony Stark so screwed up, I’m sure it hit home to a lot of people who have had a loved one succumbing to alcoholism.

So, this issue was no doubt special and blunt about how Tony Stark was in a bad place and depicting his alcoholism and withdrawal from his friends and his business in a realistic way.  So, credit awesome writer Denny O’Neil for once again taking on such a heavy subject.


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