Iron Man: Extremis is perhaps the quintessential modern Iron Man comic. It was the biggest influence on the look of the first Iron Man film and an equally big influence on the story of Iron Man 3.
Tony Stark is in trouble. He’s trying his best to get out of the weapons manufacturing game but people still seem to hate him, calling him an “arms dealer” which is right and wrong. He can’t even look at himself in the mirror, a recurring motif throughout the comic. We see more of his backstory here, including his revised origin that made it into the first film almost shot for shot. He’s contacted by old colleague Maya Hansen about her stolen project Extremis.
Fans of Iron Man 3, and dammit there are a few of us who think it’s the best one, will notice the plot elements that were used in that film. Maya Hansen, Aldrich Killian, Extremis etc. It’s cool seeing their origins and seeing what a good job the film did in adapting this for a blockbuster scale.
There’s only really one threat in this comic, a souped up terrorist named Mallen who has used the Extremis dose. His powers are cool and he is actually more powerful than Iron Man when the comic begins, and he gives Tony a real beating. He’s a little under developed perhaps but there are a few nice scenes that delve into his backstory and motivations that are really good.
The comic is about Tony Stark after all so it makes sense that he is the focus. Despite all of the awesome Iron Man vs super soldier fighting, the comic really deals with Stark’s legacy and how he will continue to live with himself in the future. There are references to The Avengers but it’s made clear this is his fight. And the last fight is really something.
The writing is great and Warren Ellis gets the sarcastic tone of Tony Stark down perfectly, but also includes that hint of sadness that suggests he really isn’t that happy with his life so far. The art is gorgeous. At first I was worried because it’s that realistic art style Marvel liked to use in the early 2000’s and 2010’s, but it’s really really strong art. The artist Adi Granov played a key role in the first Iron Man film because of this book, helping to design the suits and a lot of the concept art.
Overall this is an essential story for Marvel fans. And I’d also recommend it to fans of the films, just to see where a lot of the really cool stuff came from.
Reviewed by Jack Bumby