Review – Iron Man: Extremis
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artwork: Adi Granov
Letters: Randy Gentile
Release Date: 2005-2006
Extremis is an Iron Man story that was first released in 2005, chronologically following the events of Avengers: Disassembled and House of M, although it doesn’t require you to have read those stories to understand what is going on. It was written by Warren Ellis as a soft reboot for the character, retelling his origin in a way that made sense within the context of this story; which follows a Tony Stark 10+ years into his Iron Man career. Extremis is remembered nowadays for being a major turning point for the character within the Iron Man lore. It also went on to inspire a great deal of what we seen in the Iron Man movies within the MCU, especially the origin of Iron Man in the first movie, the use of the Extremis serum in Iron Man 3 and some elements of Age Of Ultron.
The story is written by Warren Ellis and I love the way that he choose to present the plot in Extremis; as more of an agenda stating what Iron Man should mean to the world, rather than following the tropes of a play by play generic superhero story. I also find his slightly more reserved, introspective version of Tony to be pretty interesting.
One thing that stood out to me whilst writing my review for Review – Iron Man: Extremis, was just how many mature themes are present within the story. This book features scenes of suicide, Nazism and plenty of strong violence and gore. However at no point did I feel that any of this was gratuitous, but instead that it all served to inform the story being told and was necessary to show how much was at stake.
Another stand out part of the book is the dialogue between its characters. Unlike a lot of other Iron Man stories, the highlight of this book isn’t the intense scenes of action, but instead the conversations featured and the ideologies that are discussed. Again the kid-gloves are off here as subjects such as the right to protest, national identity and excessive use of force are interweaved throughout the entire plot of the book. The scene of the protesters outside the Stark Industries building also really reminded me of the scenes of the Sekovian protesters in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Additionally, I found the interview scene where Stark justifies the repulsor technology used in his weapons by saying that they can be used in other practical ways such as to aid in space travel, but then admitting that he hasn’t ever actually used them for that reason, to be eerily similar to some of the tech being produced in the real world and the justifications given for their existence.
A huge aspect of the book’s plot is of course, the titular Extremis drug. As the book itself points out, it is similar to the Captain America serum in a lot of ways, however it is way more volatile and unpredictable. A big part of Captain America’s lore is how the most important part of the selection process was finding a good man rather than a ‘perfect soldier.’ The character that receives the Extremis injection in this story, is essentially the entire opposite of this mentality. This is a parallel that I really enjoyed seeing play out and it did make me wonder what could have been if someone other than Steve Rodgers was picked to be Cap. I also enjoyed how for the first time in a while, the Iron Man suit was shown to be totally inadequate against a foe and it really did test Tony’s resourcefulness and forced him to either adapt or die due to the extraordinary power of Extremis.
Check out Dan’s Review of Marvel’s Spider-Man
The artwork in this book is masterful. To take a character that is traditionally drawn with exceptionally flashy colours and instead choose to draw him in a much more reserved, muted, streamlined fashion is a bold decision and it really pays off here for Adi Granov. I also love the realism of the art within the book; particularly in the way that Granov draws the character’s faces in such a detailed manner that shows the specific emotions on their faces in every given panel. This realism also extends to the violent scenes, which are handled sleekly and given the punch that they need by the artwork.
Granov also does a great job helping the book to shift up a gear upon the first appearance of Iron Man in the suit. This scene is so dynamic and exciting mostly due to the artwork and it really elevates the sequence. In fact, the book is full of scenes where the art works to elevate what is happening at that point in the story’s script, which is a sign of a great writer-artist partnership. Seeing two talented creatives working together in this way is phenomenal.
The only negative that I can find within the artwork is the sequence where Tony is given the Extremis cocktail that allows him to store the suit within his bones at a molecular level. The decision to dray Tony with big holes in his body for the suit to come out from makes him a little but too superhuman for my liking. The whole charm of Tony Stark is that he is a genius, millionaire, playboy, philanthropist wrapped in multimillion dollar tech, but now all of a sudden, he is essentially superhuman. This could have been remedied if it had been drawn similar to how the nanotech works in the MCU movies, with the suit coming from Tony’s chest-piece, rather than big holes in his body.
Check out Dan’s Review of New Avengers: Breakout
Overall, I enjoyed going back to review Review – Iron Man: Extremis, as it is a fantastic Iron Man book and is an absolute must read for any fan of the character. It exemplifies everything that makes this character great and demonstrates why he been so enduring in popular culture over the years.
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