10 Superheroes With Addictions

The new Iron Man 3 movie airbrushes out Tony Stark's gripping alcoholism sub-plot. But comic books have rarely been so squeamish. These caped crusaders fought their addictions with a KA-POW!

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Title: 
Iron Man (Alcohol)
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Fans were disappointed to hear that Iron Man 3 execs vetoed Tony Stark's alcoholic plot line, on the grounds that it might be too harrowing for kids. Stark's drinking problem is central to his character. Tony Stark is both CEO of his company and a superhero—two jobs that come with a lifetime supply of stress. That stress reached a crescendo when his Iron Man armor malfunctions, causing him to accidentally kill a diplomat at a public event. That's when he starts to hit the bottle hard. It turns out that rival tech company Hammer was behind the malfunction. Though Iron Man is able to exact vengeance upon Hammer, the killing of the ambassador weighs on his mind. After drunkenly pushing away and shouting at both his girlfriend and butler, he finally acknowledges his alcoholism and asks them for help.

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Title: 
Batman (Venom)
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After failing to save the life of a young girl, a young Batman becomes obsessed with becoming stronger. For that, he turns to a performance-enhancing drug called “Venom”—the same substance that later powers Bane. The pills give him what he wanted—the Dark Knight is stronger, faster and more aggressive—but also take a toll. Besides being highly addictive, Venom scrambles his mind and makes him take a strange pleasure in inflicting violence. After an encounter with criminals while on the drug, Batman can’t think clearly: “Sirens shrill from not far away. He does not want to answer cop questions. He can't—he is muddled. Unsure of what happened.” Batman endures various stages of addiction—denial, powerlessness, relapse—until he finally decides to go cold turkey and asks Alfred to lock him in the Batcave for 30 days.

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Title: 
Moon Knight (Rx Meds)
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Murderous, schizophrenic anti-hero Moon Night is the person you turn to when you want justice carried out by any means necessary—even if its carried out by a man hopped up on Rx cocktails. He believes he fights as the avatar of Khonshu, Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance—though it’s unclear if his visions of the god are real or a manifestation of his mental illness. After a long battle, in which Moon Knight finally cuts off the face of an arch-enemy, he finds himself confined to a wheelchair with a pair of shattered knees. In response, he ratchets up his diet of painkillers and anti-psychotics to continue his role as an insane force for good who's a bit uncomfortable to be around.

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Title: 
Robin (Violence)
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Batman's son (yeah, he didn't know either) was raised in the League of Assassins, a group led by Batman's shadowy nemesis Ra's al Ghul. Due to his unorthodox upbringing, Damian Wayne isn't properly socialized and sees killing as a normal way of getting work done—and he loves his work. In an attempt to convince his father he's worthy of being Robin, he attempts to kill several of Batman's enemies, as well as the current Robin. “I fought crime tonight,” he says as he returns to the Batcave. Producing the severed head of a villain, he quips, “Crime lost.” He takes special pleasure in inflicting violence and cruelty, as well as displaying a blatant disregard for life: During his early career as Robin, he rammed an ambulance off a bridge because he was in a hurry to save Batman. Damian is eventually killed by an older doppelganger of himself.

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venom alcohol.png
Title: 
Venom (Alcohol)
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Nowadays Flash Thompson, Peter Parker/Spider Man's old high school bully, dons the infamous black alien suit to give him a leg-up on covert US Army operations. But besides fighting bad guys on the battlefield as Venom, he also fights his old alcoholism, brought on by memories of combat and his abusive drunkard father—which is revealed to be why he used to pick on Peter Parker in the first place. Since being drafted for the Vietnam War, he's been on and off the bottle, which has impacted many of his relationships. Thompson finally makes peace with his father just before he passes away from cirrhosis of the liver.

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Title: 
Patriot (Mutant Growth Hormone)
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It's tough being a superhero with no powers—especially if you're the leader. That's exactly the conundrum that Patriot, who comes from a family of experimental Captain Americas, finds himself in. In order to keep up with his Young Avengers, Patriot regularly uses mutant growth hormone to give himself super-strength, endurance and stamina, making the excuse that he got his powers from a blood transfusion from his super-soldier grandpa. After his teammates inevitably discover his drug use, he quits the Young Avengers in shame. He later returns, after actually getting a blood transfusion from gramps.

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Title: 
Martian Manhunter (Chocos)
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J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, loves Chocos cookies. He loves them a lot. So fellow Justice Leaguers Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, evidently with money to burn, think it will be funny if they buy out all the Chocos within a 10-mile radius. But when J'onn finds himself without Chocos, he embarks on a Hulk-like rampage, ripping apart the city in search of more of the Oreo-alikes. After the League finally gets the situation under control, Batman's analysis reveals that Chocos have a narcotic effect on Martian physiology—J'onn is literally addicted to them. “You're a junkie,” Batman helpfully explains. “A Chocos junkie!”

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Title: 
Hourman (Miraclo Pills)
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Hourman doesn't have any powers to call his own. Instead, he doses on addictive Miraclo pills that grant him super powers for exactly one hour. But it isn't just the pills and the power they give him; he’s also addicted to the righteous high he gets from fighting crime. Unfortunately, extended use of the experimental meds gets the best of Hourman, giving him leukemia. Ill and unable to fight any more, he hangs up the mantle of Hourman—until an alien from the future comes and helps him create a non-addictive version of Miraclo.

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Title: 
Captain America (Meth)
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Good ol' Captain America has had his stint with drugs as well—besides the whole getting-his-powers-from-military-steroids thing. While investigating a drug ring in New York City, Captain America gets caught in a meth-lab explosion. Through the power of comic-book science, the drug bonds with the super-soldier serum in his blood and turns Cap into an insane, paranoid tweaker. He beats up Daredevil, interrupts the Kingpin's dinner, eats all the food and says, “Bock bock bock bock!!” The Black Widow finally gets him under control and Cap detoxes at the Avengers Tower.

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Title: 
Arsenal (Heroin)
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Arsenal, former sidekick to the Justice League's Green Arrow, has had his share of problems with heroin. Years after quitting, he relapses following his daughter’s killing in a terrorist attack. High on “China Cat” and driven insane by grief, he kills a bunch of heroin junkies and cradles a dead cat, hallucinating that it’s his daughter's corpse. Batman finally steps in to apprehend Arsenal, finishing him off with a kick to the face, saying, “I'm your friend.” Thus, Arsenal is packed off to supervillain drug rehab. The story is regarded as one of the worst comic book tales of all time. Nevertheless, it went on to win a PRISM award for “accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental illness.”

Bryan Le is a staff writer at The Fix who has previously written on video game addiction. He also contributes to Games Abyss and edits at Hipolitics.