"Extremity": The New Buzz Book
First issues are not easy to write.
They can be hard to read, too, when not done right.
Think about everything that goes into one. The writer needs to establish a world. That includes characters, their relationship to each other, their language, their names, their slang. You need to know what the situation is that will develop into the drama. You may not even know the genre you're getting into when you open the cover.
Even worse, the writer knows all that stuff. It's often difficult to remember that the reader doesn't. Unconsciously, perhaps, the writer could easily forget to include some small detail that they take for granted is obvious. Then the reader is lost.
Or, they trip over themselves to include all the details they know. To make sure the reader gets everything that's going on, lots of exposition flows forth. Too many explanations drag the book down, though. If those explanations aren't relevant to the story, they're unnecessary and counter-productive.
First issues are tricky. They're a little easier in a pre-established world, like you might find at DC or Marvel in their main universe.
But if you're writing a science fiction series with shades of Mad Max and a revenge plot at the center of it all? There are aliens and histories and religions and strange vehicles and laws of nature that might need to be explained.
This is all why I appreciated and enjoyed "Extremity" #1 so much. Even after the second issue -- which came out last week -- it's a tight little tale. Daniel Warren Johnson does a great job in the first two issues of giving the reader only the information they need.
Nothing is wasted. Nothing is forgotten. The second issue revisits a pivotal scene from the first issue, but from a new angle. You didn't need this angle last issue. In the second issue, it means something. Johnson didn't pile everything in the first time and hoped that you would remember it a month later for some payoff.
If you haven't heard the pitch yet, "Extremity" is a book about a girl whose mother is killed in front of her, and whose hand is subsequently chopped off because she's an artist. This series is a revenge tale. It includes her bloodthirsty father and her wimpy brother against all manners of bad guys related back to that invasion and torturous night.
There are hoverbikes and floating islands and prosthetics and lots of extremities meeting sharp weapons and losing those battles. There's speedlines and action sequences galore. There are ridiculously large and dangerous animals, high tech power suits, and crazy and outlandish designs. The series is a visual delight.
You might need to pay attention while you're reading so you keep names straight and whatnot, but everything is there and no more. I never got lost in the plot. I wasn't lost underneath a mountain of locations and strange people. Johnson didn't spend a page explaining how guns work in this world, for example. Nor is he wasting a lot of each issue teasing some future storyline. He's merely adding to what he's given you to start with, when you need it.
From a pure structure perspective, this series is impressing me greatly already.
From a more entertainment-driven perspective, I find the book a lot of fun, too. It's not subtle. Everything in it ramps up quickly. The inciting incident is just as horrific as it needs to be, and the revenge that comes out of it is equally graphic. That all quickly establishes the black and white world of who is good and who is evil. It gives you a clear rooting interesting that pays off in each of the first two issues.
There are lots of possible directions Johnston could go with his story. The history and the politics of the people involved could fill out any side series he wanted. So long as he continues to pursue interesting and exciting short stories that don't drown the reader in unnecessary detritus, I'm in for the ride.
"Extremity" is an exciting new series that gives the reader just what they want and what they need. It's impressive.
"Extremity" is published by Skybound Entertainment through Image Comics for $3.99 an issue. The first two issues are out now, with the second issue already on its second printing.
My Fanboy Pick of the Year
I have to be honest that I held off on reading "Mighty Man" #1 when it first came across my desk.
Erik Larsen regularly runs back-up short stories after the letters in "Savage Dragon" and, to be quite honest, most don't excite me. They have a bad ratio of hits to misses, sad to say.
So when "Savage Dragon"'s colorist is listed as the artist on a "Mighty Man" spin-off one shot, my cynical mind told me to skip it. It was another vanity project, launched as a favor to a friend.
Yet, something about that cover worked for me. I like Nikos Koutsis' style. It has echoes of Larsen's own, plus lots of its own quirks and, to be honest, some shortcomings that give the book character. There's something about the occasional long face or awkward pose that makes a book interesting. It's more than made up by the energy in his lines and the clarity of storytelling.
Plus, he included plenty of backgrounds and enough technique to show that he's not a wannabe trying something. He's actually good enough to do this regularly, if he wanted to apply himself to it.
Who Is Mighty Man?
For those of you -- like me, I admit -- who can't keep track of all the various character comings and goings back in "Savage Dragon," the latest Mighty Man is (Nurse) Ann Steven's seven year old daughter, Betty Bradford.
This book is about her training to be a good Mighty Man. It's a fun superhero adventure story, and one that isn't tackling the transformation from the point of view of gender issues and modern politics. Someone will want to protest the book for that, I'm sure, but the questions of identity and curiosity are not what this Mighty Man is about.
I won't spoil the big surprise of the book even if it's been out for a week already, but the collection of characters that this issue features made me cackle with glee. Old school Dragon fans will love this book. It's given me great hope for the future of "Dragon," too, since it seems set slightly in the future of that book. I hope we see more of what this book is setting up. Because it's glorious.
Trust me on this, Fin-Addicts.0comments
The one shot is out this week for $3.99, and includes some character biographies in the back, which are useful.