Often times it is easy to overlook things that might seem small or even miniscule when compared to the things around them. It is too true that in many cases these seemingly small, inferior things possess far more potential than their peers. This is the case for many aspects of our lives. Literature is a prime example. With so many stories glutting store shelves, with everybody and their mother writing a story (and even the dog & cat seem to get in on the action these days), and publishers clamoring to find the next “TWILIGHT” or “HARRY POTTER”, the ultimate loser just could wind up being the consumers themselves. After all, quantity isn’t quality and no matter how deep you look you might not ever find that needle in the haystack. That is unless or until it drives itself into your finger and makes you notice.
So was the case for “Sweet Tooth”, a series that up until recently had been swallowed up in the waves of consumerist, post Hollywood comic book discovery. Written by Jeff Lemire (“ESSEX COUNTY”, “NOBODY”) “SWEET TOOTH” often pushes the boundaries of what one might perceive as comprehendible at times. Long story short the series is set in a world that has been ravaged by a terrible pandemic. One that has caused odd deformities in those that have survived it causing them to undergo changes that make them look like something you would see on National Geographic. Gus is one such child. A scared little boy that unlike those that developed their deformities, was born with odd, antler like petrusions on his temples and as such must live his life in isolation and fear from “The Hunters”. Gus’s only companion is the hulking brute of a man named Jeppard, who isn’t good at much of anything except hurting people. And while Jeppard may have an odd immunity to the disease that has left the world devastated, he isn’t without his own loss. Unable to let go of his now dead wife, Jeppard keeps her mummified corpse in a duffle he carries with him. Together the broken lives of the odd coupling of boy and man result in one mans quest to find meaning in his existence by guiding the boy to the fabled safe haven for people with his affliction where he can find refuge from the ever searching guns of the hunters.
This months issue is the beginning of the “IN CAPTIVITY” arc, finding Gus caught in a camp by the hunters thrown in a stable with other afflicted children. The ultimate haunting revelation brought forth in this issue is whether or not the haven that he so desperately clings to for sanity and hope truly exists, or if he is doomed to the same fate as those unlucky souls around him. Meanwhile we gain more insight into the fractured life of Jeppard who has returned (with the corpse of his wife) to their old farmhouse.
Lemire’s avant-gard style is something that is both refreshing and downright confusing. It might be a sin to say that the only downside to his brainchild project (Lemire both writes and donates art to the story) from DC’s flagship Vertigo is that it sometimes flounders under the weight of its own oddities. But like any great fairy tale, though more of Brothers Grimm offering than Mother Goose, it is to be expected an at times endearing. And even if the art style is an acquired taste for most it is something that by the first few issues you will have gotten used to, and like myself, learn to enjoy.
For readers who have not yet gotten themselves acquainted with Jeff Lemire this months’ issue of “SWEET TOOTH” is the time to start. The review snippet on the cover reads ‘I would crawl over broken glass to read this’ and though it may not be the case for everyone, myself included, I will say that this little title has not only a lot of heart, but a ton of guts. Not for the weak of mind or of stomach, but if you want a truly interesting and fresh read, then you could not go wrong with “Sweet Tooth”.
4 Out of 5 Skulls