Review - Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Some days you wake up with a lingering sense of unease."

Combat missions can be prepared for to an extent, but sometimes there's going to be a curveball that no amount of preparation can have someone ready for. In Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1 from Dark Horse Comics, one such curveball is the catalyst for the series. The issue is written by Christofer Emgård, illustrated by Fernando Baldó, colored by Michael Atiyeh and lettered by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt.

Months after a bioweapon attack devastated New York City, the Division agents are the last hope of a United States struggling to hold itself together. During a mission gone horribly wrong, Division Agent Caleb Dunne's partner is gruesomely killed and Dunne vows to track down the mysterious woman responsible. As he gathers clues to her whereabouts, he uncovers a grave threat to a nation already on the brink of total collapse.

Emgård sets the table very well in the issue, offering Division Agent Caleb Dunne as a plausible protagonist struggling with the death of his partner. It's certainly not a new conceit by any stretch, but Emgård does well to allow the incident be what Dunne needs to be motivated in finding the killer. In fact, much of the issue is predicated on the cat and mouse game where Dunne always seems to be one step behind and Emgård makes that chase the underpinning of the entire series. The dialogue is fairly technical from a military perspective, although Emgård does keep things pretty easy to digest for those readers who may not be as familiar with the nuances of military jargon. The issue is paced evenly without getting ahead of itself; again, a testament to Emgård's ability to use the burgeoning rivalry as the backdrop for the issue at large.

Baldó has a good handle on the look of the book as he manages to capture the tension of military missions without being overtly gorey. Facial expressions are very effective at capturing the emotion of the moment; for instance, Dunne's reaction to his friend's death in front of him helps the reader understand his pain. Most of the issue sticks to a fairly rigid grid set-up that keeps it clean and makes it easy for the reader to follow along with the action. There's also a good variety of military weaponry and tech that Baldó displays to really get the reader into the action. Atiyeh's colors are a good fit for the book tonally as they hew darker and seem to reinforce the notion of clandestine operations.

Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1 is a good first issue that gets straight to it. Dunne is on a mission to complete his duty to his country, but to also avenge the assailant who killed his partner in duty. Emgård's story is strong enough in its presentation, offering believable characters a well-paced track. Baldó's illustrative style is a perfect fit for the content of the book as it shows off the military side of things well. Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1 has a lot of appeal beyond the franchise it's evoking.

Tom Clancy's The Division: Extremis Malis #1 is available January 9.