I’ve been hearing good things about Jeff Lemire for a while now. Back when I watched the iFanboy podcast (I stopped when I was no longer keeping up with monthly comics) they always had great things to say about the writer/artist’s Essex Country trilogy and–if memory serves–even talked to him a few times in the con episodes I caught. He seemed like an interesting guy with interesting comics, so I was intrigued when he started doing Sweet Tooth at Vertigo. That’s basically the only reason I picked up this first volume of the book, on his name and buzz because all I knew going in was that the main character has antlers. That’s it.
To elaborate, some apocalyptic-like event has taken place. As a result, some people have evolved into human/animal hybrids. Gus, the star of the book, is one of them and has deer-like qualities. As the book starts, he’s living with his father in the woods and has never left them. But his father is old and passes away, leaving Gus with a set of rules he’s slowly breaking as his world opens up thanks to a man named Jepperd, a large, hardened old man with mysterious motives.
I really, really liked this collection and it got me excited to see what happens next in the book. In fact, the end of each issue had me feeling like that. Lemire has a great grasp of the format, creating tension and dread and then using those feelings to keep the audience interested. I finished this volume back in October, but wasn’t sure if it would fit in with my Halloween Scene Trade Posts, so I held off on writing about it, but I’m still chomping at the bit to find out what happens in the second volume.
Sweet Tooth–the name Jessep gives to Gus because he likes candy–reminds me of my favorite Vertigo series. There’s a lot of Preacher and Y: The Last Man in here, not in a rip-off sort of way, but in a thematic way. Gus is traveling with people he doesn’t know all that well and coming across other survivors who are hard to read. There’s also a lot of interest in the world that’s been set up, just like in those other seminal Vertigo books. I have so many questions that I want answered: what was the event, what’s Jessep’s deal, what’s the rest of the world like, what’s going to happen in volume 2, is everyone lying? Between his fantastic storytelling abilities as both writer and artist–his art as a darkness to it that fits the tone perfectly–I think Sweet Tooth has potential to stand up with those other big boys of long form sequential storytelling. Can’t wait to experience more of that world.
Much like Sweet Tooth, I was intrigued by the world that Ed Brubaker created in his four issue Vertigo miniseries with Warren Pleece called Deadenders. Both comics have an unexplained event that really screwed up humanity and changed a few people in a mysterious manner. In the case of Deadenders, though, the protagonist is anything but an innocent farmboy. In fact, Beezer, is a drug dealing malcontent whose only aspirations seem to be hanging out with his friends and making money in any illicit way possible. What makes him so special, and what draws attention from a science group that wants to study him is the fact that he has these visions of the world before all the bad stuff went down.
While Beezer’s on the run from the organization that roughed up his dad, he also goes on a job with some friends and has an episode that leads to his best friend getting into a serious moped accident. That leads to him and some other people trying to pull off a crazy stunt for said friend. There’s more after that, but I don’t want to spoil too much if you’re interested in giving this book a read.
I had a whole paragraph written about how the book felt truncated and like there were far too many ideas crammed into a four issue miniseries and then I read that the comic actually lasted for 16 issues. That kind of undercuts all of my problems with this trade (ie, it felt like too many ideas for a mini, it didn’t answer enough questions by the end, etc). I was especially disappointed in the out-of-nowhere decision of one of the characters to do something thanks to a character we haven’t seen talking to him. I’m guessing this mystery was explained in a later issue, but how could I know?
I’m kind of surprised that DC/Vertigo hasn’t done a collection of all 16 issues of this series considering how big of a name Brubaker is. I think most of his other works have been brought together in book form, so why not this one? Anyone out there read all the issues? How was it as a complete story? I’m somewhat curious, but will most likely not even remember next time I’m flipping through boxes. I don’t usually like to read too much about a comic before actually reading it, but that might have changed how I absorbed this volume. On the other hand, I probably would have just skipped it if I knew it was such an incomplete story. Ah well, better luck next time.