Two issues into Extremity, Daniel Warren Johnson has developed some really interesting plot threads. Issue three sees him move a lot of those forward. This leads to probably the least focused endeavor of the series so far, but the book is held together by strong character moments and the same great art we’ve come to expect.
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Publisher: Image Comics
The first thread that is picked up is Thea and her identity struggle. She shares a sweet moment with her father Jerome, who is pleased to see her trying to draw again, even if her drawings are not as good as they used to be. From there, we have a quick look at Shiloh and Rollo. This scene reveals a little more about the new clan member, as well as hints at some deeper mystery to the world’s history. After that, General Brynjar, a Paznina general on Thea and Jerome’s revenge list, is briefly introduced. A quick battle breaks out that leaves the cast emotionally fraught.
So yeah, Johnson has a lot of plates spinning here, and some that I didn’t even touch on. For the most part, Johnson pulls it off, largely due to his strong character work. The scene between Thea and Jerome is really well done, and getting to know Shiloh more is cool, as he is going through an identity crisis that sort of mirrors Thea’s. Seeing more of Jerome was also welcome, as thus far we’ve only really seen him as the fearless leader of the Roto. The more sensitive moments did a great job rounding out his character. And I think it indicates that Johnson is doing something right when the aftermath of a battle is more interesting than the actual fight itself.
The thing that I don’t think Johnson handled quite as well as others was the enemy of the issue, Brynjar. I think he could have been an interesting character although he was underutilized. In just a few panels Johnson developed a character whose backstory built on the identity struggle themes of the book. Brynjar’s struggle to return to his sadistic ways contrasts nicely with Thea’s and Shiloh’s fight to reject the brutality of the world. Then a few pages later he is dead. Perhaps Johnson was trying to avoid being too heavy-handed, but it seems like some wasted potential. One other thing was a bit disappointing, and that was that issue three didn’t pick up on the excellent cliffhanger of Extremity #2. I was hoping to see that momentum carry through to this issue, but instead Johnson held onto that card. It’s not a huge deal, but it does feel like another missed opportunity.
As usual, Johnson’s art is fantastic. My comments from issues one and two apply here as well: great spreads, excellent use of sound effects, illustrates the savageness of war, etc. In an issue that is a little less focused, these consistent elements help the whole story be more coherent. A few particularly notable moments stand out. Shiloh is very well designed, with the “face” panel moving to reveal his critical components really cool. It pays off really well in the post-battle scene, and makes the scene even more poignant. I think Brynjar’s design was also really cool, which is another bummer that we’ve probably seen the last of him. Finally, the last few panels, where Jerome wakes up from his nightmare, capture his pain and perhaps failure, so efficiently and so heartbreakingly. That adds a lot of depth to the character.
This issue is less focused than one and two, but Extremity #3 is kept on track by well-defined characters who continue to develop in interesting ways. That, combined with Johnson’s excellence in the art department, makes number three another great read.