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The Exterminators begins a wild ride to an uncertain destination.

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Exploding organs, lesbians, luchador rat fights, literary hookers and cockroaches: If those things aren’t enough to at least pique your interest in The Exterminators, then someone isn’t doing his or her job. Simon Oliver and Tony Moore have paved the way for a story that seems to be going in every possible direction without actually going anywhere. It also makes for a book that’s impossible to put down.


Oliver makes his comics debut with this ongoing Vertigo series'not a bad place to start'revolving around a just-paroled con Henry James and his new life as an exterminator in Los Angeles. At work, he’s surrounded by a group of eccentric characters like Stretch, his Zen-like partner; a guy who mainlines bug poison; and a guy who spends his free time fighting rats in an underground warehouse. In the midst of all this, Henry battles roaches that are seemingly becoming more organized and runs across an old box that may give his life a whole new meaning.


It’s hard to explain exactly what the plot is, because so far, there are too many strands to make a reasonable guess. Henry is definitely the focal point. But at its heart, this is an ensemble book; if demand becomes great enough, or if Oliver simply gets bored with him, any one of the supporting characters could run off with the story. Judging by how Oliver has things set up, neither approach would be surprising, and Oliver is leaving himself multiple options just in case.


Tony Moore'an artist who has spent the last few years working on straight horror titles'brings a nice reality to a book that is filled with random craziness. His style is so calm and clean that an exploding fireball of rats or a river of bugs provides just the shock that the story calls for; his character designs make sure that every single person is unique and identifiable, a feat that’s sometimes tough to pull off in comics. It lends the perfect balance to Oliver’s all-over-the-place style of writing.


It’s refreshing to read a book that’s as original and “out there” as The Exterminators because the industry can always use new ideas. Oliver and Moore have a handle on this book and seem to be enjoying themselves, and that makes it enjoyable for everyone else as well. Hopefully, the sum of all the parts eventually result in an amazing whole, but it’s too early to tell whether or not that’s going to happen. For now, it’s enough just to enjoy the ride'especially when that ride contains exploding organs and literary hookers.


nSimon Oliver
nTony Moore

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