Extermination #4: Mitigating Accusations of Gratuitousness

Simon Spurrier's highly entertaining superhero satire continues to subvert and destroy.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Extermination #4

Simon Spurrier's Extermination from Boom! is funny. We knew that going in, due to how amazingly hilarious his take on X-Club was, and that the first issue showed us that one of the main characters, the Red Reaper, was essentially a bad guy version of his show-stealing Dr. Nemesis. What started as a neat concept – what if a superhero and his archenemy were alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and had to work together to survive scary monsters – has become a more detailed subversion of the entire superhero genre, while seeming to celebrate some of the more ludicrous conventions at the same time.

Extermination #4 has Nox, the hardass "shoulderchip-bearer" Batman riff taken to the extreme of scolding people for language, and Reaper, a "science-tyrant" and "polywhiner," on their way to, in the Reaper's words, "find a make-believe coterie of costumed cretins to help wake up an impossibly powerful supergit all on the say so of a sanity dodger with his head on fire." This is the kind of dialog we're talking about, and why Spurrier writing something is a sure sign you should check in for a good time.

The supergit in question, by the by, is a Superman analogue named Absolute, and Spurrier takes the now-iconic rivalry between Supes and Batman and plays it to the hilt, flashing back often to Absolute and Nox constantly fighting over a Catwoman-esque Mynx, each always finding new and inventive ways to trump each other's tricks and smack each other around about it. Nox is in love with Mynx (he's stalwart like that) while Absolute is all possessive and dickish, because whenever there's a Superman analogue, he has to be a superdick.

The coterie in question is as such:

Extermination #4

 

This is the kind of fun we're having here with Extermination.

That isn't to say it's entirely comedy, of course. It's got a bleak setting and some gory action in the face of the chompy Husker monsters, and there's the revelation in this issue that the guy they're trying to find to try and save them from all this, that supergit, is also the guy who caused all of this in his zeal to one-up Nox about Mynx. Incidentally, Mynx is also a part of the coterie, and she learns about this heated competition for her and reacts exactly as she should. "Is that supposed to impress me?" Extermination seems to exist to take the piss out of Batman at times.

By the end of Extermination #4, we're extending that to superteams, as Nox gives an inspiring little speech to this coterie, showing he's learned some cynical lessons from his teaming with the Red Reaper, but reaches his own conclusion on how to deal with them – the standard superhero solution to sizable . "Team up! Team up! Team up! Team up!" Leaving the Reaper to mutter "Oh, for fuck's sake" about the cheesiness of it all.

The art is a two-person gig with Jeffrey Edwards doing the present-day stuff and V Ken Marion doing the flashbacks. Edwards is cool, but he can get a little dodgy on proportions, while Marion seems to be going more for a crosshatch-crazy parody of Jim Lee, and I don't know him well enough to know if it's intentional, but it would certainly fit in with the general intent of this book.

And that intent seems to be "hey, let's deflate some superheroic cliches while telling a cool story about monsters and relative morality in the face of extinction, and let's have a good time doing it."

8.5