Trigger warnings for virtually everything, from child ab*se to r*pe, torture, animal ab*se, mutilation, and repeated mentions of c*ck vore. Yes, c*ck vore. And probably whatever you’re thinking, that too. Reader beware.

Vitiators is a psychedelic Gedankenexperiment that makes the reader complicit in the horrors within. An exploration of the perils of rabid fandom and cancel culture, and how living within a bubble – or in this case, a giant undescended space testicle – can degrade and pervert itself over time.

Hold onto your hats for this one.

Vitiators begins with a group of angry fanboys – this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a weeb. Disappointed by the ending of their favorite manga series Depraver and their inability to make the creator pay, they become terrorists, acting out the same acts of cosplay occultism from the comic. Their impotent fury at the mangaka Songeiko San for refusing to give them closure, changing his art style, and – heaven forbid – drawing from left to right, “a sadistic joke” fuels a cataclysmic event that transforms a dirty town into New Gehenna.

This is an extreme reaction, no doubt about it, but it comes from a place of truth. Mangakas are typically private people, most likely as the result of several famous mangakas becoming the target of stalking and death threats. Attack on Titan’s creator Hajime Isayama regularly receives brutal death threats when his stories don’t go as readers want; My Hero Academia’s writer Kohei Horikoshi was similarly threatened over a character’s progression.

Most of all, it evokes the animator Hideaki Anno, whose declining mental state was exacerbated by the vitriolic hatred of his fans, complete with death threats. End of Evangelion was once described as a film at war with its own creator, and its audience. Vitiators is a graphic novel at war with everyone – even decency itself.

Popular manga series Depraver’s author Songeiko San wanted to give his readers the gift of narrative ambiguity, an opportunity to find an ending of their own – and they hate him for it. Dressed as cultists from his manga, the fanboys start a chain of events that causes a giant undescended testicle from hell to descend on the city in which it’s set. Trapped within this bubble, sexual depravity and rampant violence become the norm; those who don’t want to play along are killed in uniquely horrible ways.

As children die their souls are released, floating nervous systems zipped into body bags with fly-like wings, and become revenging angels. As the only pure beings, they’re the closest to the reader in their disgust at what’s happening and are fuelled by a desire for reality. They might be the only beings within Vitiators to know that they’re in a comic; that their suffering is entertainment for others.

Panel from the comic Vitiators

Vitiators has a hero, of sort – Exentera, the hyena laughing at the end of the world, preventing anyone who’d try to put an end to the chaos of organs and orgasms. She’s also the hero of Depravers, the badass murderer who makes “edge lords spooge on every page.” If she’s not anally r**ing her victims with knives, she’s administering a drug extracted from the Cryptorchisphere in order to turn parents into hideous monsters.

That’s where little Annie comes in. Repeatedly r***d and abused by her father, she manages to escape her bonds and watches as the latex-clad Exentera climbs through her parents’ window and kisses her father deeply. Sharing the kiss with his bondage-bound wife, their f***ing turns violent as they mutate into hideous monsters, and as afraid as she is Annie vomits up her soul, her own winged avenger. It calls itself Orphanmaker and goes room to room destroying the mutated monstrous parents of each child in the building.

The comic can be read over and over in a circular way, as the beginning follows on from the end – an ouroboros choking on its own tail, Vitiators is a trap for writer, reader, and anyone within its pages, especially those who come to the realization that they’re fiction, like Annie, the souls, and even Pontius Prell, the ringleader of the initial fanboys who seeks to control his reality by rewriting it, only to discover that he was only ever a character in a story.

Vitiators is a heavy graphic novel; apart from the violence and degradation, it has a lot of big ideas and interesting concepts to grapple with. You might need a dictionary on hand for your first reading, and you might find you’ll need to read it again, and then probably once more before it all clicks into place.

Stylistically it feels like a mash-up of Junji Ito’s sickest ideas, Berserk’s frenzied art style, and Robert Crumb’s fetishistic portrayal of the human body. It’d take a dissertation-length essay to try and explain the complex ideas of humanity, toxic masculinity, otaku culture, sexuality, depravity, and meta-narrative commentary at work in Vitiators.

Vitiators is written by Elytron Frass and illustrated by Charles N. and is Available Through Expat Press

More Comic Book Reviews