Extremity vol. 2: Warrior TPB – Daniel Warren Johnson

4 out of 5

Extremity should be packaged as an omnibus of all twelve issues; book two is wholly in line with book one, and while you can draw a line between events “in the sky” and events “on the ground,” I wouldn’t necessarily consider them ‘arcs’ to be divvied up in trades – this is one whole story, and should be read as such.

That means: yes, all of the pluses and promise of Daniel Warren Johnson’s first six issues are maintained here, wiiiith its minor negatives carried through as well. However, what’s most important is how the narrative progresses (kinda – I mean, you can just salivate over the art in these books and I wouldn’t blame you): I mentioned in the volume 1 review how I’d made the mistake of thinking this was going to be a simple “what if I can’t draw anymore?” parable, but I have to admit that I was impressed even further by how far beyond that Johnson goes, and then by how well he manages to juggle some cliches with more mature, open-ended storytelling.

We are, as we have been, fast-tracked through a scuffle: Paznina versus Rota, mirror imaged tribes with leaders each fueled by personal hatred for their opposite number, and then applied to whole populations. This is the main concept Daniel toys with in his goddamned intriguing, backgrounded world-building: the all-too-repeated cycle of building and destroying humanity is mindlessly stuck in, even when that mindlessness is directly confronted. This is nothing new, conceptually, but the power of these images – the primal nature of them – combined with the notes of humanity dribbled across the story, and the palpable sense of loss of the cultures that are in Extremity’s hinted-at history, make it especially impactful.

As before, there’s perhaps one climactic scuffle too many – although I suspect DWJ was just having too much fun drawing Lovecraftian beasties plus fantasy dragons plus kaiju robots and was looking for any excuse to stuff them in, and fair enough – and the quick pace, despite the successfully compressed world-building, sacrifices a more solidified sense of “place,” (which is a shame, since these makeshift locations seem like they would’ve been fun to explore) but this particualar combination of art + words into a mature and affecting story with insanely badass art is a top-tier effort, far exceeding these hiccups, and absolutely worth a place on a comic bookshelf.