Comic Picks By The Glick

Extremity vol. 1: Artist

November 10, 2017

This was a series that grabbed my attention because of its cover for the first issue (which was a full wraparound that I only saw the right half of on solicitation).  It was indicative of violence and loss against the backdrop of an unfamiliar world and I wanted to know more about it.  Creator Daniel Warren Johnson certainly delivered on the visual part of that promise with this first volume.  He gives us a vivid world of islands in the sky filled with machines that can fly through the sky alongside buildings with a medieval design aesthetic.  It’s also a world torn apart by conflict as Jerome, leader of the Roto tribe, seeks vengeance against the Paznina for the death of his wife and the loss of his daughter Thea’s right hand.  Said conflict is impressively rendered with machine-driven assaults on enemy battlements, the giant monsters of the land used as weapons of war, and all-out clashes between the two tribes.  Mike Spicer’s sharp colors help the visual spectacle stand out even more, and the art is unmistakably the best part of this volume.


So if you think that means the story doesn’t measure up, well, you’re not wrong.  The thing is that it’s not bad.  Johnson has a solid grasp of narrative and character development and both feel well-constructed here.  It’s easy to relate to and understand the motivations of the main cast, particularly Thea’s.  She’s the artist of the title and her skills were crippled with the loss of her hand.  Now she tries to find meaning in following her father’s bloody quest for revenge.  Yet can she reconcile her new violent life with the peaceful girl she used to be?


The volume’s biggest failing is that it’s easy to see where that struggle is going to go.  Ditto for her father’s all-consuming vengeance and her brother’s rejection of this path.  “Artist” is actually just one more in a long line of stories about how nothing good ever comes from revenge and the only way to break the cycle is by seeking a higher path.  It’s a very familiar kind of story at this point and “Extremity’s” execution of it adds nothing new or interesting.  What we’re left with then is a visually stunning work with a very familiar yet competently executed story.  As story has always had a greater pull on my opinion than art, I can say that while I’m not compelled to pick up the next volume I’m not entirely against it either.

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