Art by: Tony Moore
Publisher: Vertigo (US), Titan Books (UK)
First published: 2006
Originally published as: The Exterminators 1-5
Pest controllers may not seem like the most compelling of subjects to write a series of graphic novels about, but we’d urge you to give this book a bit of your time, particularly if you’re a fan of darkly humorous comics like Preacher.
Henry James is fresh out of jail and forced to hold down a steady job as part of his parole conditions. Luckily for him, his mother is seeing a man called Nils, who runs a family pest control business and is in the position to offer Henry a job. Things start going awry, however, when the market leading bug-killing chemical starts to have some strange effects on the local bug population, and something more sinister than a few cockroaches starts to rise from the darker corners of the slums of Los Angeles.
The Exterminators doesn’t have the ultra-violence of Preacher, unless you include the slaughter of bugs and rats in your head-counts. However, there are plenty of non gun-related gross-out moments, which concentrate more on filth, grime and human slobbery than weapons. While we’re discussing it, there’s also sex (human and bug) and nudity (some of those bugs should be ashamed).
While the general swell of the book is for over the top situations, it’s surprising how well-rounded and subtle the characters and underlying plot are. Oliver’s dialogue is natural and bursting with character, while the players in his lack-of-soap opera are rounded and multi-faceted. Moore’s artwork can claim similar levels of quality, capable of delivering a broad sweep of shocking humanity as easily as the microscopic insignificance of the bugs’ lives.
Bug Brothers is a satisfying introduction to what’s shaping up to be a wonderful series, with some glorious vignettes of dysfunctional, fetid human lives overlaying a deeply rich vein of suspense, conspiracy and mystery. As long as you can stomach the filth and the bugs, this first volume is a wonderfully grimy read.By Andy Shaw • Jan 3rd, 2007
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