By Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, and Rus Wooton
Extremity #9 is visceral, raw, and varied, both visually and thematically. The first half is fast paced, gory action with minimal dialogue, followed by an emotional, careful second half. Daniel Warren Johnson shows his mastery over pacing in this issue, and flaunts his pencil work as well. Mike Spicer’s colors on top toe the line between natural and surreal. It’s the perfect combination for the setting of this book. Extremity has established itself as a bloody story about purpose, art, and reaction, and finds a unique voice in doing so.
Johnson and Spicer work together to drive the first half of the issue. The intense fight scene demands attention and brings readers back into the world of The Risen Plains in two ways. First is tonally; everything about Extremity is vicious, just like the beautifully rendered monster and the rival tribe that Thea encounters. This bloody battle shoves readers back into the callous world and slams the door. Secondly, the plot is refreshed organically. There are no over explanations in dialogue or unnecessary narration. By showing the elements of the narrative versus telling readers what they are, the protagonists’ goal is immediately brought back to light as a result of Johnson and Spicer’s art.
The shift in storytelling from visual to textual is indicated by Spicer’s warm colors. The page turns and it’s immediately evident that the second half of the issue will be significantly more emotional and personal. The dialogue that defines this is provocative without being pretentious. Thea experiences a new way of handling a situation and Johnson connects the readers to her as she processes the information. Ironically, this almost merciless exposure of Thea’s emotions shows the importance of growth and understanding. Change isn’t easy, but it is necessary in this scene.
The creators of Extremity concern themselves with reaction. The series begins with the reaction of a daughter, a father, and a chief, and has followed their paths as they are manifested as vengeance, mercy, and fear. The most rewarding part of this issue is watching these characters grow—or remain the same—based on how their environment and the way that the people inhabiting it treat them. This creates a powerful juxtaposition, as Johnson bookends the issue with reactions that contradict the morals of the rest of the book.
Extremity #9 has perhaps one minor flaw that hides itself in the first few pages. Because of the issue’s fast pacing, a few story beats as well as an emotional moment are easily glossed over if the reader does not take the time to consider the text. A few aspects can be slightly confusing, but are easily remedied by a quick reread. This is hardly painful, as it means returning to some of the intense panels in this section.
When all is said, Johnson and Spicer are a marvelous team delivering a comic worthy of praise in all aspects. Extremity has easily been one of the best series this year, combining edge with emotion in a way that only it can.