I didn’t start reading comics until I got to university. So I didn’t know a lot about all the superheroes beyond what made it to the cartoons (and that the goddamned Batman was awesome). I had the same sort of baseline knowledge of a lot of these stories as I do of most mythology. Gilgamesh had an owl and he killed a bunch of people? The Monkey King journeys to the west with a magic stick for some reason? Loki fucks 8-legged horses? You know, basic knowledge.
So in the last few years when the Iron Man movie made him into a top tier character, I knew some stuff about Tony Stark. I knew he was on the Avengers. I knew he was on the government’s side in the Marvel Civil War when they “killed” Captain America. And I knew he had a drinking problem.
The other day I spotted the Demon In A Bottle trade paperback on the shelf at our branch. “Aha! Those are the comics where we learn of Tony Stark’s alcoholism. I shall read them!”
I’m really glad I wasn’t reading comics in the 70s.
I’m not saying that Demon In a Bottle is bad, but it definitely suffers from the limitations of its times. Everything is so simplified and ridiculous. He has to tell the audience in narration that his plexiglas shields slid over his eye and mouth holes when Sub-Mariner drags the fight underwater. The dialogue is inane and there are pages of him beating things up in his testing facility and on Justin Hammer’s manor-boat for no reason other than to give him something to fight.
I recognize that things were different then and that even today not everything in comics is going to be Shakespeare, but yeah. It’s not tremendously enlightening stuff to read.