Author: Warren Ellis | Illustrator: Adi Granov | Page Count: 160
“John Pillinger says the Iron Man suit is a military application. I told him he was wrong. I’m trying to decide if I was lying."
This work, perhaps more than any other, is responsible for the origin and aesthetic of the first Iron Man film. Warren Ellis is a good writer, he’s not afraid to take bold chances with existing properties and it paid off this time, mostly. Extremis was a new start for the character, bringing it up to date while still remaining faithful to the original team of Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby. It’s less of a superhero approach and more of a sci-fi thriller; Iron Man is a weapon, not a flying hero in metallic tights.
In an abandoned slaughterhouse, a test subject is injected with a secret serum; it transforms him into something more than human. Iron Man is called in by an old friend to fix the situation but he’s carrying around more baggage than just a heavy suit of armour. It places Tony temporarily out of the convoluted continuity of the extended Marvel universe, and focuses on the man; it humanises him, exposes his flaws and shows that being a millionaire isn’t always just necking champagne and bedding bunny girls. When it works, it’s fantastic. He still finds time to have the obligatory fight scene with people lifting cars over their heads etc.
The real star here is Adi Granov’s amazing art. He sketches in pencil and colours with watercolour, inks, gouache etc. He takes that into Photoshop and renders there. It’s a mix of the traditional and the new (like the story) and the result is emotionally charged and dramatically staged panels that often tell a story without the need for words. It needs to be seen to be understood properly. It’s a slow process, it took him a year and a half to complete the work but the finished product is definitely worth the wait.
The book collects together Iron Man vol.4, issues 1-6.
3½ pieces of shrapnel in an awkward place out of 5