Extremity Vol. 1: Artist
Daniel Warren Johnson: creator, writer, artist; Mike Spicer: colorist
Image Comics, 2017

It's been awhile since I started a new series created by a writer/artist, and they are quite uncommon outside of the "art comics" world of imprints like Top Shelf and Fantagraphics (or First Second, more recently)--I think of Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire, although Lemire has increasingly written for other artists. Johnson has created a compelling cyberpunk fantasy world, and peopled it with hard people struggling for revenge and power. The Mad Max comparison on the cover is apt, including the ruined civilization scavenging through the ruins for advanced technology they no longer completely understand.

Right from the beginning the central conflict between the Paznina and the Roto clans is established, in a violent assault that leads our heroine Thea (whose chief talent was creating art) to the loss of her mother and her drawing hand. The rest of this opening arc is devoted to a series of battles in which the Roto clan seeks revenge against the Paznina. They are bloody and violent: the chopping off of hands is a recurring motif, as well as good old beheading. At the end Thea attempts to escape with her brother Rollo in a small airship, but is apparently shot down by the young Paznina woman whose facial disfiguration started the whole cycle. This sets the stage for potential split story lines following the main Roto forces and the siblings on their own.

Johnson has a distinctive visual style. It reminds me of Paul Pope more than anything (another comics creator whose work is primarily as a writer/artist). This world has plenty of unusual things to draw, such as floating islands, gigantic insects, and an ancient android (called Shiloh, from his designation as a SHILOH class warrior) who befriends Rollo. The action isn't completely narrowly focused--there are also flashbacks of Roto life before the attack, and Thea's artistic calling (the source of the collection's subtitle)--but it's always compelling.

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