So I don’t know a lot about superheroes, but I do know one thing: Tony Stark is a sassy, badass billionaire.

But now, thanks to reading Iron Man: Extremis, I know that Tony Stark is a sassy, badass, somewhat cyborg billionaire.

{Comic Virgins is a regular DTC post where Amanda reads comics suggested by Ben and MikePast CV posts here.}

This series came out in 2005, so I don’t feel like I’m spoiling much by talking about major plot points here. If I spoil something, well, too bad. I found it pretty easy to follow along with (except for the weird side-trip to talk to the hippie dude who basically just served as a Mr. Miyagi of sorts) because of my familiarity with the films. I’ve seen all of the Marvel films, and I particularly have fallen in love with Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of billionaire bad boy Tony Stark/Iron Man. Though this may have clouded my judgment of the comic when it comes toward understanding, however, because I’ve criticized other comics for being hard to understand purely because I didn’t have any backstory. Here, the only reason why I have backstory is because I’ve sat through like, 6 movies.

Mr. Miyagi foreshadowing the angry, hillbilly super soldier - well, kinda.

Mr. Miyagi foreshadowing the angry, hillbilly super soldier – well, kinda.

Despite that prior knowledge, though, these comics are different stories (and possibly different versions) of the Tony Stark tale. In the films, people know who Iron Man is. In this comic, people have no clue. Tony has already had the shrapnel removed from his chest here, while that doesn’t happen in the movies until well after his identity is public. Basically, the only thing this served to do was confuse me. Also, where the hell was Pepper Potts? Mike, you promised me Pepper Potts. There was no Pepper Potts.

But I digress. We must get on to this storyline, which is very intriguing and has a lovely twist ending that I honestly did not see coming. The plot of these six issues (written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov) centers around a small backwoods hillbilly/terrorist cell getting a hold of a super soldier serum a la the stuff that made Captain America but not as awesome or functional. This stuff is call Extremis, and is designed by a girl named Maya (and others), who also happens to be a friend of Stark’s. Maya says her partner stole the serum and gave it to the group before he killed himself.

Pure rage versus scientific achievement. Sigh. Poor nerds.

Pure rage versus scientific achievement. Sigh. Poor nerds.

She obviously calls Stark, who she knows has connections to Iron Man, who can test the effectiveness of the super soldier save the day. He later finds out that this lying bitch friend of his was also in on the whole giving-the-serum-to-violent-racist-hillbillies thing.

The crux of the whole saga comes when Stark realizes his suit isn’t fast enough to defeat this super-steroid enraged youth, so he decides to give himself an altered version of the Extremis injection, complete with fancy upgrades that make him sprout an under suit from his skin and SEE USING SATELLITES.

USING. SATELLITES.

THROUGH. THE. SATELLITES.

USING. THE. SATELLITES.

I’m not sure if I love how easily he’s able to defeat the bad guy, or how easily he’s able to take the Extremis injection and survive. (Well, he sort of dies. But he gets better.) He takes the injection and then lasers off the baddie’s head in the final battle within like 6 pages – what gives? Where’s my long, drawn-out fight like the ones that literally took up the first three issues?

But, that said, those first three issues were amazing, and the last ones were pretty good, too. They were just what I want from a traditional comic – action, action, action. Lots of fighting with great artwork that illustrates the fights so well I’m pretty sure I heard the crunching pavement, wet punches and grunts of throwing a damn car at someone’s head in the very room I read the comics. 

My favorite thematic part of this story was when Stark was reborn in the creepy scab cocoon of the Extremis transformation. He reflects back on the origins of Iron Man (this seems to be the same origin story told in the Marvel films), with his clunky first prototype suit in the desert. His life has circle back on itself, and here’s his second rebirth as Iron Man, this time complete with biological, molecular improvements. Each time, it seems like he’s trying to justify the fact that he needs to make such radical changes to his body or abilities. Each time, he takes large risks to save lives.

Please, note the inset of a mothaf*#%ing explosion, so you can see it and how awesome proto-Iron Man looks like, too.

Please, note the inset of a mothaf*#%ing explosion, so you can see it and how awesome proto-Iron Man looks like standing in front of it, too.

I really enjoyed this. I don’t know if this storyline continues (remember, I have a strict no-Googling-until-thoughts-are-typed rule), but I’d love to see this on the big screen. The one superhero that seems to translate so well to the Hollywood scene is Iron Man. Can’t put my finger on why, but it just works. This Extremis storyline would be amazing to see, and would give a fresh breath to the Iron Man tale, which now needs something to spice it up after so many films. (Editor’s note: They did use Extremis in Iron Man 3, but it was NOT this…)

HOWEVER.

I’ve have one major problem again. And it’s once again with some horrible, ill-placed and completely irrelevant cover art. What the hell is this?

FFS. STAHP.

FFS. STAHP.

This, my friends, is attempting to illustrate a sexy Iron Man (which is not difficult) seductively touched by Maya – THE ONE WHO TURNED THE HILLBILLY INTO A MONSTER IN THE FIRST PLACE. Why are you sexualizing their relationship, and why are you putting her in a too-tight t-shirt touching the Iron Man suit… all before she even knows that it’s Tony in there?

Seriously, I’ve got some gender issues with comic cover art, and I feel like it’s only going to become more of a problem the more I read. But hey, bring it on. Have you read Extremis? What did you think? Let me know! Comments! Twitter! Smoke signals! Go!

About The Author

Hey there! I'm Amanda, and I'm the managing editor for DetroyTheCyborg! I come to the job with a background in journalism, English, American culture and all-around interest in what makes up our site.

For a living, I'm a government reporter for a newspaper my hometown. Seeing as that can be a bit monotonous, I welcome the opportunity to write occasional book (and other) reviews for DTC. If you see a book coming up I should review, let me know!

My interests are many and varied. I love table top games, bad movies (and good films!), music of all genres and the occasional graphic novel. Ben P. is trying his hardest to increase my interest in comic books - stay tuned for the outcome of THAT adventure. When it comes to books, I've yet to find a genre that I won't read. I have a particular affinity to Lord of the Rings and non-fiction first-person explorations - see Mary Roach's Stiff or Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals for examples.

My other abilities? I find that I make a mean batch of cinnamon rolls, and I can (most of the time) keep the crayon inside the lines.

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