Friday, June 16, 2006

Extremis: Three of Six (Marvel comics)
Iron Man #3 When: March, 2005
Why: Warren Ellis How: Adi Granov

The story so far...
Extremis: the latest in super-soldier initiatives.
Using the cutting edge in nano-technologies, an injection of "nanotubes suspended in a carrier fluid" attacks the brain's 'repair' functions, reprogramming the subject's DNA from scratch to force organic transformation through healing.

When this process is stolen from an old friend of Tony Stark's, and an uncontained subject is found to have survived, you can bet your Stark Industrial stock on Iron Man showing up.

With a vendetta against federal authorities that shot his criminal parents, the Extremis survivor is hell bent on raising chaos, and has all the strength and ability in the super-world to do it.

Recommended reading:
Iron Man #1-#6: The Extremis storyline in it's entirety.
Tales of Suspense #39: Iron Man's origin as it was originally presented, in his first appearance.
Iron Man #159: Iron Man battles Diablo.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Extremis 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Iron Man 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Extremis 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Iron Man 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 4 (Lasers)

Do not let the mugshot fool you. Iron Man is not fighting David Mack.
That's Mallen: the bogan bad boy with a chip on his shoulder so big, you'd cut child obesity numbers in half just by killin' him -- and killin' him maye just be necessary.

While Iron Man has a convincing statistical advantage based on the tape stats, these do not fully express just how close a fight this is.
It's by the wax coat on his armor that Iron Man takes the strength and energy stakes. This isn't your father's super soldier! It isn't even your great grandfather's!

Surviving the Extremis process was amazing enough, but Mallen's abilities far exceed anything you see in a Captain America, or Nuke variety super-soldier. The strength levels exhibited by Mallen put him easily in the lower end of the 6 field, and if reports are anything to go by - it gets a whole lot worse.

In the greater spectrum Iron Man has a broad arsenal, and the white hat in the situation, which suggestions the war will ultimately be his - but since this fight is only half way through the series, there's a good chance of an underdog set-up.
Break kayfabe may be cheating just a little. Tale of the tape is about who should win, not who will.

For that reason, I have to give it to Iron Man.
Despite the makings of an impressive opponent, Mallen is inexperienced, head strong, and existing as an unknown quantity in regards to the consumption of the Extremis drug. Eliminating the x-factors, Iron Man still has the great scope of experience and arsenal.

What went down...
Moving on the highway, Iron Man and those wonderful toys of his get a lock on the desired target: Mallen - surviving Extremis user/domestic terrorist.

Using his repulsor rays, Iron Man performs his first trick, slicing the getaway van down the middle - leaving the occupants in both the driver's cab and cargo areas unharmed.
It isn't mentioned, but I'm sure we all know in our hearts Stark is twirling his moustache tips while his assistant shows off his handiwork.

Mallen emerges from the tumbling carriage a little less than pleased.

Iron Man offers the youngster an easy procedural way out of the situation, but the embittered Mallen feels inclined to retaliate.
This course of action invites a sting of repulsor rays, which have little to no effect. Stark moves with the situation increasing intensity to 80%, still achieving little more than a slowing effect.

Mallen goes on the weave, avoiding the attack to launch his own.
Along with impressive resistence and speed, the thug shows off his Extremis-granted ability to breathe flames, and after having his mouth held shut, reveals retractable pegs in his fingertips -- with electrifying results.

The electrical pulse leaves shellhead staggering helpless, with systems failing.
Mallen moves in for the kill, grappling with the Iron Man armor before sending it hurtling through the air without a paddle.

In free fall and heading fast for the freeway below, Stark manages to reboot the armor, but it's too little too late.

The armor crushes the bonnet of an expensive looking car, and creates a multi-car pile up. Cars literally get airborn, creating all manner of chaos on the freeway for Neo... er... Iron man.

With cars exploding, Mallen moves into the action, running straight into a four second sonic burst. The deafening sound appears to have a stunning effect, but Mallen is still able to catch the swinging gauntlet of the golden Avenger.
With his augmented strength, Mallen crushes the glove, ripping through the armor like it were made of paper cups.

At close quarters, the desperation move sees IM fire off a barrage of charges.
Relatively unphased, Mallen returns with a stiff kick to the calf, further mangling the IM armor, and prompting another unrestrained attack in the form of a point blank repulsor blast to the face.

With little more than a few scars and chipped teeth to show for the attack, Mallen drives his fist into the chest section of the Iron man armor.
Blood spatters on Tony's visual screens. "Torso Unit Breach."

In a whole world of trouble, Stark stumbles as Mallen takes a tight grip on a passing Porsche, and with little regard for the passengers inside, hoists the vehicle above his head, as the issue comes to a close.

The hammer...
Well, I feel like I haven't said it enough, but although the fight ends inconclusively, in the interest of public record I declare Mallen the victor in Iron Man #3.

Flicking back through the issues, I didn't find a first name, but if anyone can fill me in on a handle, the WWD might be a little less laborious next time (but that's not a guarantee).

The Extremis storyline really was a breath of fresh air to the Iron Man title.
I've always considered myself an Iron Man fan, even though I haven't always been an avid reader. Part of this is clearly attributed to the stagnant treatment of the character, an element I've discussed in regards to the Hulk in recent entries.

Like many other characters, Iron Man went through a shakey patch of ups and downs through the nineties. IM probably held far greater heights than the Hulk through his era de bland, but from the mid nineties to this fourth volume of the series I had not stayed with the book more than five issues.

The five issue record was achievable thanks to Heroes Reborn [which I probably would have continued to read if the fates had made it more accessable], but was contrasted by the disappointing launch of the Heroes Return Iron Man.
While it did the service of reverting the character back to his origins, having been turned into a teenager by previous storylines, it still managed to feel well short of a contemporary vision of the character.

Honestly, Ellis does very little to alter the character in Extremis.
The success of the presentation is probably in the finer details. Adi Granov's photo realistic CG artwork helps sell many of the ground-level facets of the storyline, lending credibility then to the impressive renders of the IM armor.
It's when in the armor that Granov truly shines, and could be forgiven for indulging in a script that calls for an excessive amount of pages dealing with Iron Man and blue sky.

With this in mind, it's easy to see how Ellis does not deliver the greatest of single issues.
Although not to the degree of his work on Ultimate Fantastic Four, which was paced to the point of boredom; Ellis paces the story with a respect for the non-space and more natural moments of being.
While 'writing for trade' and 'padding' may be occurring here, Extremis seems to exhibit a greater degree of interest than much of Ellis' other recent mainstream work.

Beneath the new story lies a secondary level easily overlooked -- a revamped origin for the Vietnam-era character.
While the nature of the origin remains much the same, it receives a breath of contemporary air, with elements refined and technologies updated relatively to allude to the eventual upgrades.
This really is a truly worthy revamp for a modern audience, even if it isn't as inspired as a Warren Ellis techno-character could have been.

As mentioned, Granov truly shines drawing the Iron Man armor.
The cold metal serves to both highlight Granov's strengths and weaknesses.

At times scenes can look uncomforably still, and characters absent and lacking the warmth of life. It's no small wonder that Granov previously worked on the Silver Surfer - a character that greatly benefits from the eerie still of Granov's characters.

This distanced glaze of photo realism clearly presents the Iron Man armor in all it's glory, and adds a credibility to the scenes that other artists struggle with.
Dealing with the frozen expression of the helmet is a piece of cake for Granov, and while animation is generally lacking with human characters, he still manages to deliver high action scenes. The first issue highlights this superbly.

With intelligent editorial scheduling and management, the slow working Granov, whose art justifies the means with the ends, could without a doubt be a powerhouse talent for Marvel. I hope to see a lot more!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 6

NEXT: Justice is blind, but is she more compassionate than the military? Rargh! Hulk smash puny Murdock!

No comments: