Monthly Archives: August, 2017

Extremity

“What is in the taste of blood that soothes you?”

Hey, this is D.C. back to throwdown on a series that I’ve had difficulty formulating into words. Let’s talk about Image Comics’ Extremity.

Simply put, it is a tale of war and revenge, helmed by Daniel Warren Johnson.

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Impressions?

From the beginning Johnson produces an engaging and sad story. The art is appropriate, showing a mixed world of old and technological. It is also brutal and dynamic in its action sequences. Mike Spicer’s colors complement and even enhances the events and emotions that drive the story.

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Johnson’s script weaves great insight into the lore, history and characters of this new world. The first issue gives the appearance that protagonist Thea and her tribe, the Roto, are an oppressed people after the Paznina and their queen brutalize their homes, take their land, and kill their families. Thea loses the most important thing to her, aside from her mother: her hand and her skills as an artist. Because of this, Roto leader Jerome’s sense of loss and desire for revenge can be sympathized and empathized with. You can understand his role as leader (termed “Abba”) and his attempts to harden his children Thea and Rollo to the realities of war.

At least, Jerome’s own realities.

With the introduction of the second issue, however, the validity of Jerome’s hardship, and that of the Roto tribe, is no longer clear. Issue #2 shows that Thea’s dismemberment is in fact revenge on the Paznina queen’s part for her own daughter’s disfigurement. It is no longer certain who are the true oppressors and who are the true oppressed–aside from the innocent like Thea–as is often the case of war.

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The revelations of issue #2 made me far less sympathetic with Jerome’s character. Johnson skillfully writes Jerome as both sympathetic and unsympathetic. Jerome shows love for his family and pride in his role, but his obsession with revenge is damning. His unflinching “eye for an eye” approach–to the point of torture and sacrifice innocents–is more reprehensible by his grooming Thea into the role he no longer sees Rollo strong enough to inherit. Roto tribesman Hobbie was right, if not ominous, in his exchange with Thea: there is a light dimming in Thea’s soul, and her father, for all of his love, is bringing her closer to his darkness.

In spite of all that, I love the realism in Jerome’s character.

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From here on out, Extremity is an simple and somber lesson of war, and how revenge begets revenge. The cycle is clear to Rollo, who shines in the series as the intellectual, emotional, and historical counter to his father’s pragmatism and drive for revenge by any means necessary. Rollo’s perceived weakness towards slaughter is so clearly his strength, even as he part ways with his clan.

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The biggest worry is Thea. She’s a relatable protagonist, as we see her constantly struggle with reconciling her three parts: her past and potential as an artist who shared her talent as a mode of optimism; her present and growing brutality, groomed more so by the father and her own rage; and her future potential as either a destroyer or as a creator. Will her father allow her to be what she was grown to be, or what he needs her to be?

What will her father do when she chooses what she shall be?

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Recap

Extremity is a ugly tale that emphasizes the cyclic nature of war and hate, its effects on all who endure it, and how these victims become what they need to be. Daniel Warren Johnson is top notch in this story that is just seeped in emotion and strong characterization, and I look forward to seeing what Johnson has in store for all of these characters.

END THROWDOWN!

Secret Weapons

“I am good at cleaning up psiots. They taste sweet.”

Hey, hey, this is D. C., and I’m excited to throw down on some work this month. First is a strong favorite of mine: Valiant’s Secret Weapons, from the creative team of Eric Heisserer, Raul Allén, and Patricia Martín.

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Any info on Secret Weapons?

I came into Secret Weapons knowing absolutely nothing about what came before. Secret Weapons was just one of many books published by Valiant Comics back in the 1990’s. With Valiant Entertainment’s revival (a very good one, I might add), the company has reintroduced many of those old books in various forms.

While the original book had a team of its more iconic characters like Bloodshot, the Eternal Warrior, and X-O Manowar, we now have a hidden set of psiots who were part of Toyo Harada’s Willows program.

Basically, a set of rejects whom Harada deemed had no useful abilities towards his goals.

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O. G. Secret Weapons!

In the aftermath of the series Harbinger, the psiots are public knowledge, and Harada’s own hardships in Imperium means the Willows have been abandoned. In the meantime, a patchwork creature called Rex-0 (I’m unsure if it is pronounced “Rex-zero,” or “Rex-O”…damn comics) is hunting Harada’s rejects. Why hasn’t been determined.

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That’s inconsequential to Harada’s former protege, Livewire, who is trying to rescue the psiots and uncover Rex-0’s benefactor, who may be more sinister than Harada ever was.

Impressions

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book that had characters with relatively useless powers, and yet so endearing, funny, dynamic, and interesting all in one.

If you’ve read any of Valiant’s books that feature Livewire (Harbinger or Unity), you would know she is a powerful psiot. Still, she has not been the focus of this book, and thankfully so. But only two issues in, it is Nikki Finch and Owen Cho who shine.

With Owen, we quickly get an idea of his character, his background, and just the hilarity of his abilities. Owen conjures objects, but he has no control of when and what he conjures. Still, Eric Heisserer plans the usefulness of Owen’s uselessness very well in the first two issues. I couldn’t help but be surprised and pleased and how these innocuous items Cho conjured were used to escape danger.

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Now…Nikki Finch, the psiot who speaks to birds.

She is a true gem. A skilled gymnast with a tough and courageous attitude, she is hard proof that your abilities alone do not make you a contender. Finch uses her innate and learned skills with finesse, fearlessness, and wonderful abandon. You can’t help but love her character. I feel she has great potential in the Valiant universe, thanks to Heisserer.

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As for the art? Raul Allén and Patricia Martín work together well to generate an intriguing tale with Heisserer’s script. The art seems simplistic, but you can’t denigrate even simplistic art that pushes dynamics, emotion, and great physical action. This artistic team excels here.

Verdict?

Valiant’s revival of Secret Weapons leaves nothing to the imagination, and it is only two issues in. There is heart, actions, great characterization, and fantastic introductions given to a slew of characters. Again, Eric Heisserer proves his skill in tackling characters with useless abilities and makes them anything but. The art provided by Raul Allén and Patricia Martín help to weave a great tale that can only make one hopeful not just for the Secret Weapons, but for the future of Valiant.

Pick it up now.

END THROWDOWN.