The Extremist, written by Peter Milligan and artist Ted McKeever, was my first Vertigo comic book, a DC imprint of mature themed comic books. The Extremist showed me that comic book books could be elevated from escapism to literature.
The main character Judy Tanner surrenders herself into the identity of the assassin The Extremist. Judy discovers The Extremist after her husband, Jack, is murdered and uncovers the costume and identity belonged to him, which he used as a patron of sex clubs and to work for The Order, a shadowy organization. She is able to take her revenge on her husband’s murderer, but then learns she was manipulated by The Order’s Chief Hedonist, Patrick, who reveals he is the true killer. He had manipulated Judy into murder because he wanted to liberate Judy from her bourgeois suburban code.
The Extremist’s exploration of moral codes runs parallel to the homosexual search for identity because traditional gender roles can’t be applied to homosexual relationships. Conversely, heteronormative gender roles are all that were modelled for homosexual relationships, which creates internal dissonance about behaviors. The effect of this confusion is culture-identity dissension, when cultural-norms disconnect from a developing identity resulting in habitual painful feelings.