The opening issue to Tom Clancy’s The Division: Extremis Malis #1 starts agent Caleb Dunne down a long, dangerous road of revenge.  The opening scenes set the stage for a manhunt that will take Dunne far from his comfort zone as he seeks answers for the death of his best friend.

Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1TOM CLANCY’S THE DIVISION: EXTREMIS MALIS #1

Writer: Cristofer Emgard
Artist: Fernando Baldo
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.99
Publication date:  January 8th, 2018

Previously on The Division: Extremis Malis #1: 2016s Tom Clancy’s The Division video game set the template for the Strategic Homeland Division aka ‘The Division’.  Sleeper agents are reactivated to assist emergency responders in times of dire need.  In this new series inspired by the game, main character Caleb Dunne and his friend and fellow agent Kaminsky are on the trail of a dangerous, shadowy figure.  What happens next will turn Dunne’s life upside down and set him on the path of a new, lethal threat!

PATRIOT GAMES

He’s been dead for less than a decade, but Tom Clancy, despite his massive popularity in the 80s and 90s, seems almost a forgotten figure in adventure fiction.  He shouldn’t be.  Clancy is still worth reading and adaptations of his works, especially the hugely entertaining The Hunt for the Red October feature film, are always entertaining.  His big, sprawling epics, with up to the minute technology and ripped from the headlines storytelling still resonate today and are worth reading.

The Division was a video game that came out in 2016.  Tom Clancy’s The Division: Extremis Malis #1 springs from that, sharing the same milieu (New York) and references some of the characters and situations from the game.  But this opening issue is very much its own thing.

Agent Caleb Dunne and his partner Kaminsky are on the trail of a weapon’s supplier for a group known as the Last Man Battalion.  Skulking through the night, armed to the teeth, they seem an unstoppable force as they take down (hopefully with some sort of executive sanction!) armed guards as they penetrate the stronghold.  Dunne has a premonition of disaster, but pushes on, only to find his partner held at knifepoint by a masked figure.  Kaminsky’s throat is cut and he bleeds out, leaving Dunne to pick up the pieces.

Dunne takes it on himself to investigate further.  More bodies turn up, and the possibility of a traitor within The Division, before he uncovers a possible attack on New York and Pennsylvania.  Barely surviving an attack by Kaminsky’s killer, Dunne then escapes an explosion, before setting off lone wolf style to avenge his friend and take down an organization hell-bent on mass destruction.

There’s a lot to like about this issue.  The antagonist is a female, and it’s great to see a minority character front and centre.  Dunne is believable, a man who can crack jokes with his partner while competently going about a mission.  Writer Cristofer Emgard covers Dunne’s survivor’s guilt with some poignancy and insight, as well as his urge to seek out Kaminsky’s murderer.

WITHOUT REMORSE

This opening issue sets the table for future issues to come.  Dunne’s character is laid out nicely, and his motivation, vengeance for a dead friend, while very much a standard trope, is also believable.  The issue lays out a little bit of a mystery for Dunne to follow, which he does ably with the assistance of some of Clancy’s trademark up to the minute technology.  If there is a criticism that can be laid at the plotting is that it is pretty predictable – though that’s a complaint that can be laid at the feet of just about every action-adventure revenge story these days.

I enjoyed Fernando Baldo artwork.  The lines are messy and most of the action takes place during a thunderstorm, or at night, or in abandoned factories, which adds to the mystery and tension.  Its strong, competent work that matches the story very well.  His panel layout for the hand to hand fight at the end is dynamic, allowing the eye to move from panel to panel in sequence.  I particularly enjoyed the explosion near the end, as Dunne sprints away, with the explosion in the background hurling him towards the reader.

BOTTOM LINE:  CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Extremis Malis #1 is a compactly told opening featuring an engaging lead that sets the table for more technical wizardry and all-around mayhem.  While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it has the easy familiarity of a summer blockbuster and is all the better for it.  Now that the threat is established and our main character is out on the streets looking for vengeance, readers can look forward to more mayhem and adventure in future issues.

Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1

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More Mayhem in the Future

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Extremis Malis #1 is a compactly told opening featuring an engaging lead that sets the table for more technical wizardry and all-around mayhem.  While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it has the easy familiarity of a summer blockbuster and is all the better for it.  Now that the threat is established and our main character is out on the streets looking for vengeance, readers can look forward to more mayhem and adventure in future issues.

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About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

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