This volume reprints Iron Man issues #1-6 from 2005/6. This is the reboot of Tony Stark to the next technological level, with the addition of the Extremis technology to his arsenal. In this serial, a new nano-technology, developed by an old friend of Stark, escapes into the hands of cardboard-cut-out right-wing loonies, who infect one of their own, making him a superman, who goes on a killing spree, and smashes up Iron Man for good measure. The only way to stop him, and save Stark, is to use the remaining sample of Extremis on Stark himself. We get a flashback to the birth of the original Iron Man as the Extremis takes hold, showing the analogies between the two situations, as Stark must use technology to keep him alive and defeat the evil terrorists. Remember folks, terrorists are evil whatever their nationality, colour or creed.
The artwork, unfortunately, while being of the highest quality, gives the appearance of being a series of still-life pictures, with little or no sense of movement or dynamism, which takes great skill when illustrating a rocket-powered suit of armour. Unfortunately, it doesn't always make for the best comics, hence the 4-stars.
A destructive new chemical compound called Extremis that gives the user superhuman powers is set loose onto a domestic terrorist with an agenda to bring down Washington. Cue Tony Stark, flying in to save the day! But even Iron Man isn't able to deal with this threat and must make a life altering choice. We also get the Iron Man origin story here that was used in the Iron Man film (with a few subtle tweaks).
I love Warren Ellis' writing whether it's his weird, original material or more mainstream projects like this book with Marvel. He always writes a very interesting, very fun script and "Extremis" is no exception. Tony Stark's intelligent, humourous nature is put across nicely as are moral arguments for scientists whose work can be used for both good and evil. Much was made of Adi Granov's art but I found it to be a bit bland. Iron Man looks good but the colours are very muted and the humans all look computer generated rather than natural. It wasn't terrible artwork but it was a long way from the brilliance I had been led to expect with this book.
"Extremis" was a great jumping off point for the Iron Man movie series and I think the producers would have done better if they'd chosen the hyper-powerful Timothy-McVey-type in this book than Jeff Bridges' giant robot-suited villain. It just seems like Ellis' villain is more edgy and interesting. The origin story here was also well handled, with Stark visiting Afghanistan and being taken prisoner by the Taliban. There's also a great throwback to the first issue of Iron Man, design-wise.
Overall, a very satisfying, well written superhero comic that I definitely recommend to fans both of the genre but also to those who aren't so that they can see why people enjoy these stories.