Girls Vol. 4: Extinction (Image Comics)

girls-header.jpgThe Luna Brothers’ horror series wraps up, but does the ending pay off on the promise of the rest of the series?


168 pgs. FC; $14.99

(W: Joshua Luna; A: Jonathan Luna)


Tension is the key to any good horror yarn, and the strain couldn’t get much higher than it is in Extinction, the fourth and final volume in the Luna Brothers’ Girls series. The shocked residents of Pennystown have been forcibly scattered thanks to the titular girls, a ravenous horde of mute, naked women who are out to kill the tiny town’s female populace and seduce its men into creating more girls. Four men scatter to their respective homes, each having a very different reaction as the enormity of their personal losses sets in, while the newly vulnerable women follow the lead of Nancy, whose take charge attitude seems to morph more into tyranny with each passing chapter. Tensions run high for different reasons between reluctant hero Ethan, his ex-girlfriend Taylor, and her new beau (the town sheriff Wes), which would be hard enough for Ethan if he weren’t having hallucinatory conversations with the girl who, thanks to Ethan, started this whole mess.


The cover to Girls Vol. 4. Click thumbnail for a larger image.To go any further into plot details for this final volume would spoil the fun, especially for a series as packed with unexpected turns as Girls is. The simple question needing to be answered: does the final volume pay off on the promise of the rest of the series? The answer is, well, not quite, but it’s damn close.


First the positives: the series spent a lot of its third volume fleshing out its vast network of background characters, and these developments pay off in a big way in Vol. 4. With the townspeople scattered, the perspective shuffles through their individual stories in a series of fascinating vignettes that all help build the overall narrative. While many stories of this ilk take great glee in offing their personality-less characters, the Luna Brothers instill a great deal of depth to each member of the cast, giving each death added weight while deepening the looming dread that not everyone will make it out alive. The heightened sense of paranoia, paired with unexpected moments of graphic violence, creates some true shocks that will keep readers on their toes while satisfying their bloodlust.


The problem is the final volume rockets by so quickly that the ending, by contrast, seems a bit pat, wrapping things up into a bit too tidy a package in too few pages. Some of this may have been exacerbated by the monthly comics format; though the final issue ran a full 40 pages, those pages had to cram in both the climax and denouement of the story, and they concentrate so much on the former that the result feels just a hair incomplete, even if the story does satisfy readers’ curiosity and answer all the questions the preceding story provided. Olympic gymnasts don’t get a zero score just for a little wobble, and neither should the overwhelmingly high overall quality of Girls be discounted just because it doesn’t quite stick the landing.


The cover to Girls: The Complete Collection. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Art-wise, Jonathan Luna is still at the top of his game this time out, imbuing his "actors" with the necessary skills to relay Joshua Luna’s excellent, conversational script as perfectly as possible. His style is sleek, cinematic, and fits the story well, but it’s certainly not for everybody, the lack of line variation in the inks lending the work an unusual flatness that won’t necessarily appeal to all artistic tastes.


Following the release of this final volume, Image Comics has also made available Girls: The Complete Collection, a deluxe hardcover housing the entire series. Though the $100 price tag may be hard to swallow, the book would be a surefire hit as a gift for horror-minded loved ones, particularly fans of Image’s other horror hit, The Walking Dead. Also, the Lunas’ new series, The Sword, debuted in October, and its second issue is available now. If the phenomenal skill with which they crafted Girls is any indication, their latest series should also jump to the top of your prospective reading list. | Jason Green


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