Thursday, July 7, 2011
Fear Itself #4: Taking a (Cold) One for the Team
While I've been entirely neutral about the main Fear Itself book, Marvel's once-again-obligatory crossover event gave us a great Iron Man scene yesterday. This is no surprise, as Fear Itself is written by Matt Fraction. However, Fraction gives Tony the opportunity to shine by having him stand up both to Odin the All-Father and his own alcohol addiction.
The scene is particularly bizarre, as it's technically Tony petitioning Odin for help saving the world. Since Odin is much more powerful than any of Earth's heroes (even Thor, the Odinson himself), this is a wise decision. But since Odin is so arrogant and has so little regard for humans, it was unlikely he would risk his own hide to help mortals, and might only do so if they showed complete submission.
So what does Tony do? Grabs a bottle of booze, sacrifices the sobriety he's kept for years in a single swig, and demands Odin help them now that he's shown the requisite loss of dignity.
Of course, Tony isn't actually submitting to the All-Father. He's making it clear that he has no respect for Odin and is only asking out of utter necessity. Instead, he's prodding at Odin's pride, even calling him a bully. The sacrifice of dignity is Tony jumping through the kinds of hoops Odin expects of everyone else, all the while satirizing Odin's need to bring others to his knees.
Tony also isn't sacrificing much by taking a drink. If anything, he's confronting what's been one of his worst Achilles' heels. There are many alcoholics that are able to overcome their problem to the point of being able to drink again in moderation. Tony isn't one of those, and even though he's been willfully* sober since his 1980s uber-binge. Yet the policy of complete and utter abstinence hasn't worked too well for him, as writers have taken every opportunity to show how he still thirsts. Fraction himself addressed this in the .1 issue, showing how Tony compensates for his alcohol addiction by indulging in his sex addiction. At least Tony can't crash his Iron Man suit into a bus load of school children under the influence of having blown his wad, but he's still maintaining an addictive personality and feeding his alcoholism through total abstinence.
it was only a matter of time before Tony relapsed, given his thirst; Obadiah Stane ruined Tony by prodding at this weakness, and Justine Hammer sent Tony a bottle through mail in the hopes of repeating this plan. But though Tony may be drunk now, this doesn't mean he's off the wagon. In fact, it may mean that he'll be able to control his addiction, rather than simply deny it. Just because he's not submitting before a higher power (Literally!) doesn't mean he'll once again be a hopeless drunk.
Well played, Mr. Fraction.
* Excluding instances where he was supernaturally forced to drink, such as when the AI VOR/TEX stole his body