The newest Ant-Man in Marvel’s latest major event is none other than Tony Stark himself, but he has problems that not even his new powers can solve.
Warning: contains spoilers for Avengers Forever #1!
Marvel’s latest massive event begins with Ant-Man, but he’s not Hank Pym or Scott Lang – it’s Tony Stark, and he brings with him his classic (and tragic) problems. Stark’s history with alcohol addiction is well-known and well-documented, beginning in the 80s and continuing to the present day. In Avengers Forever #1, Marvel’s new Ant-Man has plenty of new powers and abilities, but brings Stark’s most infamous weakness to the table as well.
In Avengers Forever by Jason Aaron, Aaron Kuder, Cam Smith, Jason Keith, Triona Farrell, and VC’s Cory Petit, the world of Earth-818 is in chaos. War Machines (massive iron suits created by Stark) police the Wasteland and Tony Stark, the Ant-Man, is a brilliant inventor and part-time thief. In a sense, he’s an amalgamation of Iron Man, Ant-Man and Star-Lord (per the latter’s experience with space-related beings, Stark even has a gun modeled after the face of a dead Celestial). Stark desperately tries to escape the Venom Ants, the Wastelord’s personal hunters, and must rely on his wits and his shrinking technology to survive his immediate plight and the rest of his post-apocalyptic world.
Stark explains through narration how he developed his shrinking technology as a method to disappear from the ever-present War Machines…and to become as small as he actually felt, and to escape from the constant suffering. Apparently as much of a brilliant inventor as he was on Earth-616, Stark created a method to control his size in times of crisis. He dubs them “Stark Particles” (not unlike the Pym Particles of Marvel’s prime reality). “Needless to say,” muses Stark, “I was blisteringly drunk.”
At least in this universe, Stark can still harness his intellectual prowess while drunk, but later panels showcase him drinking deeply from a flask. Just like the Earth-616 Iron Man, Stark is in constant emotional pain and uses alcohol to hide. It’s unknown exactly how addicted to the bottle this version truly is, but if he’s anything like the prime Tony, he has the ability to kick the habit, though it will take time and dedication. From the Ultimate Universe to the world of Avengers Forever, it seems Tony’s alcoholism is as integral to the character as his suits of armor are.
Tony Stark may have a different situation in Avengers Forever, but he’s no less brilliant and no less haunted by his personal demons. The world around him is clearly falling apart, and he has precious few allies. But the latest version of Ant-Man has the ability to overcome his addiction and become a better person – and considering how he never gives up on his mission despite the state of his surroundings, he might even be well on his way.
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