Missiles, Repulsors And Uni-Beams. Oh My!
SO WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS...It's easy to see where the 2008 Iron Man movie got a lot of it's inspiration from after reading this collection of issues. Everything from the updated origin story, to Stark being questioned about the morality of his business, all the way to Iron Man hitting a supervillian holding a car over his head with a uni-beam. The popular superhero movie owes much of its plot to Extremis. Fortunately, the scenes that inspired those elements of the film are just as exciting and entertaining on the page as they are on the screen. Not to mention everything in the story that it can wholly call its own. Extremis is a great ride through and through.
The story centers around a Super Soldier-like serum developed in top secret (as things of this nature usually are) that rewires the body into a more efficient machine. When the serum is injected into Mallen, things get ugly as he starts carving a path through highly populated areas on his way to Washington D.C. With the help of the very doctor who created the serum, Iron Man sets out to stop the crazed maniac. Unfortunately, things don't go well for Stark in round one, which leads him to take drastic measures in order to take on Mallen.
That can be said to be the basics of the story. It's a simple enough approach that leaves plenty of room for expansion and side bits, which Warren Ellis takes great advantage of. A large majority of the first portion of the story is spent with Tony Stark, not Iron Man, as we get insights into the nature of his business and how it affects him as a person. A few cliches are used to illustrate that, such as the old standby: character can't look at himself in the mirror as it would mean confronting who they really are. Stuff like that. But, cliche though it may be, it's still executed well and I never noticed the nature of the tropes used in this book until I stopped to think about it, so it shouldn't prove to be a detriment to the enjoyment of casual readers or those just looking for a good story.
The only major downside to the story is that while there is a focus on Tony as a character, much of this story's purpose seems to be just to upgrade Iron Man. I get the feeling that someone thought Iron Man wasn't awesome enough and thus, this story was born. I don't so much have a problem with character upgrades, but it takes a lot of the excitement this story could have had away. For example, towards the middle of the book, Iron Man and Mallen fight for the first time. Mallen is clearly the superior combatant, but Stark presses on anyway, fighting through injury after injury in what is easily the best scene in the entire book. It's a wonderfully tense and dramatic fight scene with plenty of great back-n-forth action. However, after Iron Man gets his upgrade and he and Mallen go at it again, the fight turns into a one-sided beat down that really wasn't fun to watch at all. There's nothing intense or dramatic about it at all and was an unfortunately disappointing follow up to their first fight.
ARE YOU SEEING WHAT I'M SEEING?Simply put, Adi Granov's art is stunningly beautiful. A beautiful blend of paint style colors and subtle pencils makes for a beautifully drawn book. It's not perfect though. Under close scrutiny, you can see that facial expressions are very bland. With the exception of Mallen, whose face is incredibly emotive in the hands of Granov, everyone's sad face looks exactly the same as their happy face. Very little is given in the way of insight into the mind sets of the characters through their face, which is disappointing to see when everything else looks so great.
Granov more than makes up for the above complaint, however, with his brilliant depiction of Warren's action scenes. His work beautifully enforces the motivation or idea behind each scene (assuming there is one) and adds greater depth and enjoyment to them. Be warned though, this is not a book for kids. Granov doesn't shy away from showing the battle in all its detail. The squeamish need not apply.