Page 45 Review by Stephen
Absolutely first-rate - so well written that it bored the pants off a lot of Marvel readers as a series. They didn't like what they saw as its verbosity, but which I enjoyed as a fierce intelligence really bearing down on its subject matter: technology, its funding, its application, and the future. And isn't that what a book starring a guy in the most advanced technology on the planet should be about? Technology! What took them so long?!
Tony Stark has built for himself one of the richest and most successful technology corporations in the world, but in order to do so - in order to kick-start the company and finance future ideas with medical applications and mass-market commercial uses - he developed military weapons. During a critical interview (with John Pilger - it's definitely the real-life John Pilger!), we flash back to see Stark critically wounded out in Afghanistan by one of his own landmines. With less than a week to live - with shrapnel digging further and further into his heart - he is forced by his captors to develop arms for them, but instead desperately sets about constructing an armour which can serve the dual purpose of saving his life and killing his captors.
Ellis makes the Iron Man armour the very centre of Tony's inner struggle, as well as the wider debate about technology and its deployment for military and medical purposes. It's a debate which continues right into the action when the Extremis Project is stolen by a small cell of anti-establishment militiamen heading to Washington DC to cause as much damage as possible. What is the Extremis Project...?
"It's a bio-electronic package, fitted into a few billion graphic nanotubes and suspended in a carrier fluid. A magic bullet, like the original Super-Soldier Serum -- all in a single injection. It hacks the body's repair centre -- the part of the brain that keeps a complete blueprint of the human body. When we're injured, we refer to that area of the brain in order to heal properly. Extremis rewrites the repair centre. In the first stage, the body essentially becomes an open wound. The normal human blueprint is being replaced with the Extremis blueprint, you see? The brain is being told that the body is wrong. Extremis Protocol dictates that the subject be put on life support and intravenously fed nutrients at this point. For the next two or three days, the subject remains unconscious within a cocoon of scabs. It's pretty gross, as you can imagine. Extremis uses the nutrients and body mass to build new organs. Better ones. We loaded in everything we could think of. The hypothetical we were given was to build a three-man team would could take Fallujah on their own."
And now it's been injected into a domestic terrorist who has murder in mind, and the body with which to commit it. Can Stark's exterior armour keep up with this madman's inbuilt capabilities, or is it time for the ultimate upgrade?
This is overwhelmingly a boy's book. I don't mean it's a book for children (please, no, there are exploding heads!), and I don't mean that no women will necessarily enjoy it - that'd be enormously sexist of me. But it really is a book for boys who like toys - new tech gadgets like ipods and cell phones and PS3s and shiny, flying armour that can rip a car in two (oh, god, how I want some!).
The art is shiny too. I still can't find a better comparison than TRIGAN EMPIRE, and it'll take very good care of you in the all-out action sequences, most of which are full-page or horizontal, slipped in cleverly between the vertical conversation pieces.