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View Full Version : Iron Man: Extremis (spoilers within)


Comix Obsession
10-20-2009, 12:39 PM
I'm a little late to the fold on Iron Man, but the movie was so good that it got me interested in the character. Last year my then girlfriend bought me this book for Christmas on my request - it looked different and interesting enough to be a good jump-off point for starting with the character. I only just read it and had a few thoughts that I thought I'd share, to see what other thought.

Firstly, it's a lot shorter than I anticipated, which isn't a bad thing by any means, it's just surprising. I think it's well handled, though, it doesn't feel rushed although I would have liked to have seen a much bigger and perhaps more powerful fight at the end. I think because of that it seemed almost too easy for Stark to win - inject himself with a dose of super-serum that he altered himself whilst Maya was out of the room (a typically lazy comic plot twist - press a few buttons and an entire formula is reprogrammed) and hey presto! - he's super Iron Man. But otherwise, well handled.

Warren Ellis is a bit of a difficult writer for me to fully like. I loved his work on Transmetropolitan, in fact, that's how I came to discover him. It was through another forum that I was made aware of the comic, and after reading it I discovered that Ellis is from my hometown in the UK. So it made me want to embrace his work because it gave me hope that there are great artists in my part of the World. But Transmetropolitan seems to be where he hit his stride, perhaps through full creative freedom - and his other work leaves a stale taste in my mouth. It could just be his attitude online - his 'online persona' being a complete asshole, for one thing. But it could also be that he just can't stop trying so hard to be Hunter S Thompson. Extremis is an excellent read, but some parts were so poor I was left wondering if he really deserves such high praise.
For example, when the book starts, Ellis can't help but throw a bit of Spider Jerusalem cynicism into Stark's character - it felt completely out of character (compared to the rest of the book) for Stark to talk to his PA like he does, and to make a joke about having 'some kind of intrevenous drip' to help him wake up. That's not Stark, that's Ellis wanting to be either controversial or a drug-fuelled genius of some sort. Or both. It worked in Transmetropolitan because he made no attempt to disguise the fact that Spider Jerusalem is basically the future version of Raoul Duke.
But I think the really, really grating part for me was the dream sequence whilst Stark is going through the Extremis 'metamorphosis' - it just seemed like a lazy recollection of events leading to Stark building Iron Man in the first place. Frankly, after the excellent dialogue between Stark and John Pillinger in the first part and then later between Stark, Maya and Sal, I was expecting a more revelatory story as to how Stark came to decide on an Iron Man. I know this wasn't Ellis' story, but it's almost like it was put in as an afterthought: 'Stark is a cocoon, we have to show time passing - what to do... a DREAM sequence!'

Other than that, I thought it was an excellent idea, if I little on the familiar side. The idea that Stark controls Iron Man through his brain and can 'grow' his protective underlayer before essentially magnetising the armour to himself is an excellent concept, and whilst far-fetched in the current time, serves well as part of the future of Iron Man.

Loved a lot of the ideas, but some of them, including some of the writing, just let this one down. When Ellis hits his stride, he really nails it - but I don't think he enjoys writing Superheroes as much as he does indulging in his own persona of this drug-addled, hate-filled super-genius that he seems to want to be.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I read it.

Oh, and Adi Granov's art is superb. Some bits just don't look right - the faces, mainly, but that's only occasionally. Most of the panels look amazing.