Simon Gilbert began as a mistake -- I had pulled the whole run into my office and had found Gilbert in previous issues, but overlooked #48 -- and at the time, the online indexing wasn't thorough. By the time a reader mentioned it, we were well into the end of the run and there wasn't time to make a story point out of it. I do like getting springboards out of continuity problems, though: as I discuss here
, I have tried to react a lot faster when things come up.
That said, looking at the scene, it's a tough one to write around, but it's doable. Figure maybe that the floor fell through, allowing Gilbert to get free -- and that the blast we saw wasn't from his explosives, but something higher up in the building. (Was he an experienced demolitionist?) Then figure he shows up at Firebrand's trial claiming he was a kidnap victim of his crazy kid, and anything else is his word against Tony's. I'm not sure that would work, but that might be a way to go.
I talked more about Tony in the interviews of the day, but I think my take on him was that the alcoholism was a symptom of something else -- the same arrogance of intellect that led him to think he could do the justice system's job for them. A lot of addicts start out thinking they're invincible, too -- that they're too smart to have the problems other people have. Well, obviously, it doesn't work that way. Also, to a degree I felt that part of why he turned to booze was that he didn't the internal capacity he needed for dealing with his own failures. I've known some gifted "wunderkid" types who basically imploded when they hit situations they couldn't think their way around; Stane recognized that in Tony, and set up his chess game accordingly. We hit him with that in the confirmation hearings.
If my take was in some ways unusual, it might be because I had read almost everything that had been published to that point (though I obviously didn't remember #48). I felt that Tony had gone through so much that he could play the role of a grown-up in the world of grown-ups -- allowing Tony Stark to fix a problem Iron Man had created, for a change. I was writing Stark at 40 -- or at least an emotional 40, having survived several trips to the pinnacle of life and down into the gutter. Sorry I didn't get to go further with it at that time -- the business of comics intervened -- but it would be fun to revisit again one day.