Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Adi Granov
What it’s about: Believe it or not, there was a time when Iron Man was near the bottom of the totem pole at Marvel. In an attempt to boost interest in the character again, the company rebooted his comic book series in 2005 with a new story arc written by Warren Ellis and featuring some absolutely jaw-dropping art by Adi Granov. The story itself, titled “Extremis,” intercuts flashbacks of Iron Man’s origin story, which is updated to more modern times here, while also telling the story of the Extremis virus. In the story, the virus has fallen into the hands of a terrorist named Mallen, and it’s up to Iron Man to stop him. The technical explanation behind Extremis is fairly heady, but it's basically a virus that acts as a tech-enhanced super soldier serum, vastly improving the physical traits of whoever takes it.
Unable to stop Mallen on his own, and suffering from catastrophic injuries from their previous encounter, Tony Stark injects himself with the virus and gains new abilities in the process. Now he is able to mentally control his armor, as well as all other computers, with a mere thought. This blurs the line even further between Stark and his armor, as Ellis deftly gets into the psyche of the relationship between the two. Ellis’ heavy script is paired beautifully with the stunning artwork by Granov, who has gone on to inspire the look of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The fact that the visuals from this book alone helped the first Iron Man movie get the green light in Hollywood makes this one of the company’s most important comics ever.
How it relates to Iron Man 3: "Extremis" is basically the backbone of the entire movie. Sure, the Mandarin and War Machine don’t play a part in the original comic, but characters like Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen both appear, as does Extremis itself. If you’re an Iron Man buff, but haven’t gotten into the comics yet, this is the place to start.