With Iron Man 3 on the way, I was curious how long Marvel would hold out before bringing “Extremis” back. This week my question was answered with Iron Man #1, a numerical reboot that pits Shell-head against the Extremis virus. For those unaware, "Extremis" is a story arc written by Warren Ellis consisting of a new idea in the super-soldier serum. Extremis is a serum of bioelectronics fitted into graphite nanotubes and held together by fluid. Once inside you, the body creates a cocoon of scabs and during the cocoon period the body is made better, stronger and more aggressive.
The first important thing about the Extremis is that Ellis used it to re-launch Tony Stark’s origin. The ideas were similar, Tony Stark kidnapped and forced to make weapons, but instead designs the original Iron Man suit to help him escape. Ellis changed the setting from Vietnam to the Middle East (the same setting used in the original Iron Man film) and modernized it. During the "Extremis" arc, Iron Man joins forces with Extremis co-creator Maya Hansen to defeat the men injected with the virus. After being forced to kill one of those men, Iron Man learns that Hansen was a culprit in the theft of Extremis and has her arrested.
Iron Man #1 opens with Tony Stark questioning himself and his life. In typical Stark fashion, he poses these questions during a flirting session with a gorgeous blonde. Cut to Buenos Aires, where Maya Hansen emerges, beaten, from a sewer and sends a desperate last message to Tony Stark before being murdered. Extremis is back, it’s infected people and Stark need to stop it. Attending an underground weapons auction, Stark is able to infiltrate those who stole Extremis and discovers there are four men currently infected with it. Iron Man is up against it once again.
I have to commend writer Kieron Gillen for making this new Extremis story seem more like an organic tale and less like a preparation for aspects of Iron Man 3. From what I gather via the trailer, the third Iron Man film will use elements of the Extremis story, including Maya Hansen. Iron Man #1 never feels like a shill. Gillen sets it up that, after everything he’s been through, Stark has reached a crossroads. Just as decides what the next chapter will be, one of his greatest dark foes returns to haunt him. Compelling stuff, and Gillen gives the issue just enough spark and action to hold my interest. I’m not an Iron Man fan, so for me to want to read issue two speaks highly of Gillen’s abilities.
Greg Land provides the art for Iron Man #1 and, while I know he’s a highly respected artist, his work is just too clean for me. The work in Iron Man #1 is pretty and well executed, but it’s so perfect it creates an air of computer graphics. Nothing jumps off the page, nothing pops. It may be pretty, but it’s boring.
Iron Man #1. An obvious attempt to jump-start interest in the third film but handled with enough integrity and talent to read like any other Iron Man tale.
(4 Story, 2.5 Art)