By Patrick Wolf
Daniel Johnson does it again with another exciting issue of the popular hack-and-slash series Extremity. In this edition, Johnson puts the breaks on the revenge drama and gives us a glimpse into some of the internal conflicts emerging with in the Roto clan. Every bit as exciting as the first three installments, Extremity # 4 is definitely worth your time. If you haven’t already started reading this series, pick it up. You won’t regret it.
Four years has past since the Paznina attacked the Roto people. Thea’s father is still hot for revenge, and he demonstrates this by having Dag—the man who killed his wife—violently subdued. The clan then searches Dag’s house where they find a hidden doomsday device. The problem is the device is missing one piece: a battery—the exact same kind used by Shiloh the robot. Will Thea’s father kill Shiloh for his power source, or will he give in to his son’s entreaties and spare the machine?
Like the previous three issues, book four has met every one of my expectations. It’s dark, gritty, adventurous, and keeps becoming more interesting as the world of the Rising Plains unravels. The story very much reminds me of the 1997 Japanese manga Desert Punk. At the time I loved Punk, but I often wished the series would cut back on its lowbrow humor and take the drama up a notch. I believe Extremity has filled this gap.
Like Punk, Extremity takes place in a lost future where humanity has long ago destroyed itself. From the handfuls of surviving generations, the people of the future are nomadic, scavenging tribes that do their best to survive—often by restoring the old tech of the super cultures. Where Extremity differs from Punk, however, is not just in its lack of crass humor, but also in its mystery and world building. The Rising Plains are just a small part of an immense, dangerous world filled with monsters, mutants, warring tribes, and forgotten technology. In fact most of the world is so hazardous, it’s referred to as ‘the ancient dark’: very cool.
But Extremity wouldn’t be as cool as it is, if it weren’t for Johnson’s awesome illustrations. His choppy, jarred style really works well with this series—especially since it combines a medieval universe with future technology. We really get the impression that we’re culturally in the past, but historically in the future. Spicer’s colors are also spot-on. He uses a lot of cool colors and dark shades to emphasize the melancholy mood of the story. And his murky tones help to remind us this isn’t a lowbrow comedy: it’s a serious epic.
If I were to change some elements, I’d probably add more plot twists. So far, the story has been pretty linear. We’ve had the catalyst where the Paznina first attacked, and we’ve seen the big event where the Roto strike back, but since then nothing has really happened to advance the story. In every issue we get the Roto attacking a new stronghold, defeating it, and advancing to the next. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fight scenes very much, but I’d like to see more dramatic plot twists.
Another element I didn’t quite understand is why Johnson chose to have this issue take place four years later? Nothing has really changed. All the characters look the same, their motivations are the same, and goal-wise they’re right where they left off. So, why have the four-year time elapse?
Despite these technicalities, I still find Extremity #4 to be very enjoyable. Johnson is both and excellent artist and writer, and I can’t wait to see more from him. While I’d like some more plot twists, the story is only four issues in, so it’s not really a problem right now. In that end, Extremity is an awesome series and certainly should be added to the reading list of anyone who’s a fan of gritty, post-apocalyptic adventures.
Writer/Artist: Daniel Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics