How did we get to this new, more self-absorbed Iron Man? Well, the series has made allusions in the earlier issues to the fact that Tony Stark had his personality warped (readers may recall the mostly unremarkable "Axis" event that made heroes kind-of evil and villains sorta good) and it has stayed that way even if most other folk reverted back to their original personality. Thankfully, one does not need to have read that event to follow-along with this series.
The series opened with Stark relocating to San Francisco and debuting a new "App" that allows anyone who uses it to have their genes essentially altered by Extremis to have great health and look gorgeous. The problem is this app costs a lost of money, and has led to an uptick in crime.
It is actually those little hints that Stark isn't all bad that keeps him from appearing to be a villain, even if he is clearly not a hero.
Not Quite a Villain. Definitely Not a Hero.
Things get even more interesting in the most recent issues, where it is revealed how Tony's on-again off-again girlfriend Pepper Potts has been working with a computer back-up of his mind in an effort to possibly "fix" him. The thing is, even this mental back-up of Tony poses a danger to society, and with the end of issue #8 it appears the real Tony is going to take some extreme measures to make sure any plans he has to improve the world are not disrupted.
Do We Love the Bad Guy?
expertly wrote about Wolverine's son, Daken, up until killing him off in the series finale...well, seeming to kill him off as then the character popped-up in other comics only to eventually die--and now apparently be alive again or something? I don't know, I just like to pretend Marvel left Daken alone after Williams.
Anyways, even though they behave like horrible people, I find myself fascinated by these "heroes" who are mean people, but know it too. It just seems that seeing a "hero" behave in ways that are un-hero-like may not be new, but them feeling little remorse about it is something seen much less often. Plus, those small hints of Tony still being a nice human (saving Matt's life even if he mind-wiped him, helping Jamie/Teen Abomination as a tribute to Happy) keep him from being completely horrendous.
This all begins to raise the question of if some of the, "Ends-justify-the-means," heroes we worship such as Batman are really that far removed from these so-called heroes who also go about things in questionable ways, but instead of feeling all dramatic about it just shrug their actions off and go have a drink (the newly Superior Tony Stark definitely has broken his sobriety).
4.5 out of 5 stars. (for the overall eight issues).