Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cranky Book Review: The Exterminators: Bug Brothers

Well, this is a big mess.


The main plot line of this one involves an exterminator, Henry James (who displays no characteristics in common with the eponymous author), fresh out of jail for an undetailed crime. As part of his parole, he's working for his step-father's "Bug-Bee-Gone" business. Nothing really comes of the main plot, and we never learn anything about our "hero." He just goes around and has wacky, gross adventures with wacky, gross co-workers. It's kind of like Buckaroo Banzai, but without John Lithgow lizards.

panel from Exterminators: Bug Brothers by Simon Oliver & Tony Moore

There's a sub-plot involving the idea that cockroaches in the most neglected part of town have been evolving into a better organized form of insect life. But this doesn't go anywhere either, outside of providing many moments for (former Walking Dead artist) Tony Moore to draw lots of disgusting things. Which is fine, but there's a hint of the writer intending this to be some sort of metaphor about people living in poverty.

panel from Exterminators: Bug Brothers by Simon Oliver & Tony Moore

It would be fairly offensive if the people had any development higher than that of the roaches. Or maybe that makes it worse. We have the stereotypical bad landlord, the working mom with a heart of gold, her asthmatic son who needs a father figure and sexist, leering male neighbors.  Not that Simon Oliver is only bad at writing poor people. Everyone in this story is defined by one or two characteristics, just enough to use them for a few panels, then put them back in the "toy box" again. 

panel from Exterminators: Bug Brothers by Simon Oliver & Tony Moore

A good case in point is Henry's girlfriend, Laura. Supposedly, they've been living and sleeping together for a long time, but they act like room mates who barely know each other. The only reason Laura is in the story is to provide a bridge to the mysterious business that makes a certain cockroach poison. She's persuing a position in the upper echelons of the corporation just as we're told that the bug bait is genetically modifying the insects. See! writing!

This is so by-the-books that I wonder if the story was originally a television or movie pitch. Henry and generic single mom even meet "cute." They pass each other in a convenience store and our heroic exterminator decides to giver her one of his business cards to help her out. It took me forever to realize HOW he knows she needs bug help. She must be buying more roach motels or poison, but either no one told Tony Moore, or he doesn't know how to draw them.

(Sorry, kids, I seem to have lost the scan and I'm not going back home to re-do it. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

This is a big disappointment from the once reliable Vertigo brand name. I'd expect this sort of thing from the DC side of the company, putting gross-out moments and cardboard characters in pseudo "literate" packaging (oh look, blurbs from people who like things! minimalist cover! mature readers warning!). But, judging from the success of Walking Dead and Fables, this is what people want. Television without commercial breaks. 

panel from Exterminators: Bug Brothers by Simon Oliver & Tony Moore

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