The storyline that inspired this summer’s Iron Man 3 movie

(Panini Books)

THE renaissance of Iron Man began here.

Before the armoured Avenger became the darling of the Marvel movie world, his comic series was floundering after a run of creative missteps, and many people were questioning the role of playboy arms inventor Tony Stark in our modern world.

Enter writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov, who not only succeeded in redefining Iron Man’s status quo for the 21st century, but set the character on a path which would culminate in his current position as one of the lynchpins of the Marvel Universe both in print and on screen.

When his old friend Maya Hansen, a brilliant biotechnologist, calls for help after the theft of her latest invention, Stark unwittingly begins a journey down a path which will lead to his own upgrading in more ways than one.

Maya has invented the Extremis enhancile, a bio-electronics package which can be applied by a single injection, and will then hack the body’s repair centre, rewriting it and replacing the human blueprint with an Extremis replacement. There is no guarantee of surviving the process, but when homegrown terrorist Mallen successfully metabolises Extremis, it gives him superhuman powers which he then uses to wreak a trail of death and destruction before completely trashing the Iron Man suit in his first encounter with Stark.

Battered and broken beyond repair, Tony realises his only option is to risk injecting himself with Extremis and use the process to drastically improve Iron Man’s capabilities in a way he could only have dreamed of achieving before… Becoming, effectively, Stark 2.0.

Ellis uses his narrative to examine the morality behind Stark’s inventions, his positive contributions to society, and the role of the machine in everything from the human body through to space exploration. This is not your average superhero comic.

Apart from a few cultural references, and the odd invention now rendered archaic by the passage of time, the story stands up remarkably well, and you can see why it has been used as the basis for the third Iron Man movie.

Futurism is at the heart of this book – the chase for the next big thing, the search for breakthrough technology, the desire to supersede what we have now with something better. In a way, that is exactly what Ellis and Granov have achieved, taking the outdated Iron Man concept and propelling it straight into tomorrow, a trajectory which shows no signs of slowing down even today.

* This edition also includes behind-the-scenes features and interviews to enhance your reading experience.