“Extremity” Issue #1
Image Comics & Skybound Entertainment
Creator, Writer, Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Crunchy, dark, and rocketing fast between the floating land masses that make up the Rising Plains, Extremity is the revenge epic you didn’t know you were waiting for. Think Mad Max meets high fantasy, where medieval castles and towers patrolled by generals in suits of armour clash against war-painted makeshift flying machines filled with utility-belted soldiers in knee pads and leather jackets. Packed with gore and clan warfare, this issue #1 rams through its first chapter at a breakneck speed that will leave you breathless.
Extremity sets us up via flashback to sympathize with the plight of Thea and her clan in a few quick pages. Thea lived a peaceful life with her family as the greatest artist in the floating plains, a home stacked with books, a roaring fireplace in the hearth. Thea’s clan, the Roto, was then attacked by an army of Paznina headed by three shadowy figures. Thea’s Mother slaughtered in front of her, her clan decimated, and Thea’s right hand was cut off. In the current timeline, a desolate Thea attempts to re-create an old drawing to no avail with her left hand, the right a clunky three-fingered metal replacement. Sparse beds, scrap metal, and snaking pipes populate the interior of Thea’s room inside the new settlement which serves as part-spaceship part-war machine. Thea, her brother Rollo, and their father Jerome (clan Abba, leader and war General) head a mission of vengeance, beginning with an attack on a garrison in a stone castle suspended in space. Did I mention that the Abba dons a partial face mask made of the teeth of his fallen enemies as he charges into battle? No? Well, he does, and their road to retribution begins as all should, by using the ship as a battering ram.
Non-stop action and a relentless narrative pace are just a few of the reasons why by the end of the book I was flipping back through, making sure I didn’t miss a beat. All of the storytelling is done visually or through character dialogue, which makes for a highly cinematic book by Daniel Warren Johnson. Each character is uniquely costumed, and though Thea and her family bear a clear resemblance (a testament to Johnson’s artistic skill), they each have their own distinct style, and each line of their face or texture of their clothing is captured with utmost care. The same can be said for the vehicles and landscapes showcased in Extremity. Johnson’s intricate line work unveils sweeping clouds, whirring machines, battered weaponry, stony cathedrals, and splattering entrails in vivid detail. Then the action starts, and it’s a fight you can feel but also hear. With Johnson being both the writer and artist of this dramatic hack- and-slash, battle sequences are rife with onomatopoeia. Beautifully inked, tight, well-choreographed figures locked in combat are accompanied by the FWAM, SLICE, or CLANG of weapons smacking against armour or sailing through skin. This integration places the reader at the scene and makes each moment that much more visceral. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, as blood splatters and entrails abound.
A huge part of what makes Extremity pack such a punch is the work of its colourist, Mike Spicer. With palette and hue, Spicer gives atmosphere to the rich settings that Johnson has invented. The hull of the warship is painted dull greys and unflinching greens, the cloud-filled expanses of space a majestic purple. Spicer’s colours serve to add impact to already detailed and raw sequences. A panel in which a tooth is being extracted by Jerome from the mouth of an enemy is stained in yellows and reds, a stark contrast to the grey landscape shown only a moment before. Rollo slumps to the floor as he is unable to perform a brutal blow to a foe to appease his father, and his form disappears into the dark mauve background. These added touches give each moment a swift slice of visual sharpness, and the mood of each moment moves towards the reader with startling intensity.
With its swift set-up and stylish artwork, Extremity is a smorgasbord of visual gluttony that has you joyriding through violet skies, hurtling to its ruthless conclusion. If you seek a tale of loss, retribution, malevolence, and mechanical replacement hands, look no further. Extremity will CLANG its way onto your pull list, whether your quest be an eye for an eye or if your perfect revenge is for something just slightly different. 9/10
Chris is the owner of The Sidekick comic shop/coffee bar in Toronto. You can find her there under a mountain of books, doing shots of espresso off the bar.When she’s not in the shop, Chris does freelance illustration work and tours the city’s outdoor space with her dog Cooper.
Her favorite fandoms feature giant monsters.