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Iron Man: Extremis

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Brian Ward
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This might be the first digital comic review here at Horrorview. This is a format I know I’ve never explored before, but I am, and have always been, a comic guy.  I picked up the Iron Man Extremis graphic novel a few years ago, and I absolutely love the story. Seeing it presented in digital motion was an intriguing invitation.

Extremis opens with a subject injecting a test dose of a serum into his neck.  Within moments, he emerges in a blood rage, scaring his colleagues into locking him behind thick steel doors in the basement of their hideout. The next scene introduces viewers to the billionaire genius, Tony Stark, who is tucked away in a garage working on one of his visionary projects. He is reminded of an interview with a documentary crew, and prepares as the scene cuts away to a Texas company called Futurepharm.  Dr. Killian, one of the chemists who developed the serum, writes a confession explaining that he released Extremis into the wild. He hits print, and then kills himself.

Stark is ambushed during his documentary interview, with questions and statistics that paint him as a war monger. He attempts to defend himself and his image, but he has little ground to stand on against his experienced interviewer. In truth, Stark believes that his company is more than just a weapons manufacturer, but he recognizes that there is blood on his hands through the military impact of his inventions.

To cool his jets, Stark dons the Iron Man suit (after a short backstory), and he daydreams about a meeting over drinks with Dr. Maya Hansen. His desire is to figure out how to apply technology to something other than the military or consumer demand.  Hansen soon calls him, desperate for some answers.  Hansen is responsible for the Extremis serum, and its release to the wild could mean anything.

Maya and Tony go visit their hippie mentor, Sal.  He gives them a lecture about how they’re both almost useful, but not quite accomplishing their goals. Sal explains how Tony’s technology and Maya’s chemistry are both intent on revising and improving human biology.  Viewers discover that Extremis is an attempt to recreate the Super Soldier serum (that made Steve Rogers into Captain America). As viewers are treated to his lecture, the comic cuts to the test subject, Mallen, as he infiltrates an FBI field office in Texas, slaughtering everyone inside. Maya recognizes every sign of the Extremis serum; including the subject’s ability to breathe fire and absorb incredible amounts of damage.

Extremis rewrites the body’s entire damage control ability.  Any subject that can overcome the serum’s initial damage develops new organs, new powers, and several additional abilities.  Stark’s men learn that the Extremis subject is a domestic terrorist; a gun nut intent on returning America to its core values.  Take the craziest right-wing conspiracy lover and inject him with a dementia-inflicting, nerve-inducing drug. Add in childhood trauma and abuse. That’s Mallen.

Iron Man confronts the Extremis subject, with horrific results.  Mallen’s electric touch and super strength are superior to the systems of the Iron Man armor.  He’s faster, stronger and hits harder than the armor.  In fact, he not only destroys the suit…he delivers critical injuries to Stark, despite the supposed protection of the Iron Man armor.  Stark barely survives the conflict, but there’s very little left in his system when he arrives on Dr. Hansen’s doorstep for assistance.

Tony finally understands Sal’s logic, which is why he turns to Maya for the only potential method of overcoming his Extremis opponent. Tony begs Maya for a dose of the Extremis serum; that would hot-wire the Iron Man armor to his brain.  This would be Tony’s connection to Iron Man permanently. 

Would Tony’s synergy to the Iron Man suit be enough to stop the rogue Extremis enemy alone?  Does he need to summon the powers of the Avengers to stop one super-charged maniac? Can he overcome his injuries to finally stop the radical Mallen? How can Stark overcome his dependency on his own technology?  What is the ultimate purpose of Extremis?

The final scene incorporates all the lessons learned in the perfect combination.  The DVD covers most of the questions Iron Man fans may have about the hero and the story.  Extremis represents a major character arc for Iron Man, the same way that “The Other” meant a complete change for Spider Man.

Extremis finds Tony Stark challenged to find the relationship he has with Iron Man. For years, Stark was portrayed as a narcissist, interested in his downing his next drink and bedding his next debutante. Writer Warren Ellis paints Stark as more contemplative than most other depictions of the hero. He layers in the different motives of the characters very well. Adi Granov’s artwork translates to the digital comic world very well, and the techs do a fantastic job breathing life into the otherwise two-dimensional comic. If all the Marvel comics look this good, the company should have long-term success migrating from the ink and paper world to the digital one.

Extras include a conversation with Granov, Behind the Scenes features with Edge Studios, Magnetic Dreams and  Also included is a music video for “Ready to Go”, the Extremis theme song. There is also a slideshow history of Iron Man and an artist gallery from Granov. (These both require a remote to peruse the gallery, so if you’re watching on a PC, it may be a little tricky.) Trailers are included for Extremis and other Marvel digital comics. One particularly entertaining addition is the “What the -?” short, featuring stop motion shots using action figures. Iron Man hosts “Iron Mania”, a celebrity quiz show. Guests include the Hulk, Thor, War Machine, MC Chris, Brian Michael Bendis, and Coheed & Cambria frontman Claudia Sanchez. 

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