I love a good action comic, even if it feels like something that just ripped off another action comic. If the art is done well and the dialogue is snappy and the superheroes are punching stuff, I’ll read it. When all that happens and someone found a fresh way to tell me a clever sci-fi tale full of superpowers, alien goop and end of the world madness, I consider that a bonus that’s impossible to pass up. Extermination #1 is a comic full of bonuses.
The world’s been overrun by savage insect aliens, and the only two people who seem to be holding it together (at least as far as they know) are a pair of mismatched superhumans. Nox is a vigilante of the night with a strict moral code and a severe dislike of swearing. Red Reaper is an evil mad scientist who, before the world ended, was one of Nox’s major nemeses. Now they’re working together to fight aliens, riding around on a nuclear bike and doing their best to survive.
That’s fun enough. Sign me up for that. I don’t need any more evidence that this is a comic for me. But Spurrier’s not stopping there. For one thing, his script crackles with truly energetic dialogue. It’s got hints of Whedon and Ellis and Vaughan running all through it, but it’s also clearly the work of a singular voice. For another, there’s more at work here than just the Odd Couple in capes element. Nox and Red Reaper are at odds with each other in their natural state, yes, but that goes further than “You’re a hero, I’m a villain.” Their individual ideologies come into play even in the span of this first issue. Something deeper than simple juxtaposition is at work, and that shows ambition on Spurrier’s part as well as an eye for spectacle and future drama.
Edwards’ art is just the right complement for this story. It’s got that big, widescreen energy of comics like The Authority. Big panels of superheroes leaping and punching and facing off with alien scum dominate the book. It’s slick and epic and just plain badass, and it’s exactly what I want to go along with this kind of superhero comic.
Extermination is some of the best fun I’ve had with a comic recently, a sci-fi superhero mashup full of life. Pick it up and enjoy the ride.