By Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer
In the penultimate issue of Extremity, what feels like the entire world is at odds in a war against themselves, and the machine of the old world. Issue 11 truly feels grand. Johnson’s two double page spreads are not only gorgeous to look at, but awesome to take in. Few teams manage to hold a reader’s breath like Johnson and Spicer’s distinct style. Their attention to detail means that the Rising Plains are populated, ripe and over growing with soldiers being culled by the hatred of the Paznina and the Roto. Each page has depth and the stakes are palpable because of this. Thea and the cast are reaching the end of their journey and we’re finally seeing what that means.
Poor, dear, Shiloh. Extremity #11 takes the series’ themes of reaction and vengeance and blows it up on a global scale through its battling tribes. Johnson’s storytelling shows the impact of growing up around violence. Hate breeds hate has never been more clear than it has in this issue. Gory action scenes that depict arrows sticking into humans with a rain of sanguine “SPUK”s is at first delightful and at second glance saddening as the costs of war are realized; the cost of the Roto battle cry “we carry them deep”. For those interested, this issue has a lot to say about penance and how we deal with being wronged. Fighting fire with fire is a common thread throughout, although the consequences of that are yet to be revealed.
Together, Johnson and Spicer capture the grit of these themes. Johnson’s inks are textural, giving everything an aged, battle-worn aesthetic. Appropriately, it seems that nothing in the Rising Plains has gone without seeing violence. Spicer compliments that with his raw color selection. The color of this issue’s monster is reminiscent of a fleshy arachnid. It’s every bit as repulsive as a war-machine should be, and there’s no panel in which its presence goes unnoticed. Visually, this issue can only be described as visceral and guttural.
The exception to that would be the first few pages, amongst the Essene. There’s what seems like a deliberate change in color tone from dark, somber greys, to the oranges of battle. Spicer illustrates the difference in battle preparation beautifully. Where the Essene are reluctant to kill, the Roto are passionate and justified in their actions. There is no cheering met by the Essene’s declaration to fight- only a small “we are with you” stands amongst the sad but stoic shades. Juxtaposing that scene with the brightness of Jerome’s battle speech and the echoing, blood-red responsorial chant is powerful on Spicer and Johnson’s part.
Extremity #11 brings the characters’ storylines together like a monstrous orchestra, as we see each side’s perspective and losses. Johnson masterfully directs each one to prepare for the series’ coda. Loss is eminent, but to what degree is unknown. If you aren’t reading this series, you’re robbing yourself of one of comics’ perfect storms.