In 3797, DR. Nika Temsmith of the Department of Xeniology desperately pursues a diplomatic solution to Earthlab 1830-362's problem with the alien inhabitants of Atabithi, the last outpost in the known galaxy and perhaps the only remaining habitat in existence that supports Trillium, a unique flower with unique chemical properties that the scientists of Earthlab 1830-362 hope to use to create a vaccine for The Caul, a sentient virus that has reduced humanity to only 4,000 surviving individuals. In 1921, explorer and World War I veteran, William Price, takes part in an expedition to discover the "Lost Temple of The Incas" wherein a legendary plant supposedly exists that will bring "health and happiness" to those who chew it. Both Nika and William are searching for salvation, one for that of the human race, and one from that of his own demons. They are both beings of vastly different times and eras, but only perhaps together can they attain the salvation they are both desperately searching for?
Writer/artist Jeff Lemire is a quickly rising star at DC Comics these days, but it is his Vertigo work (along with his previous indie work) that truly sets him apart from the comic book creator crowd at DC Comics, and across the industry. His last major venture with the DC Comics imprint Vertigo was the late, albeit great, Sweet Tooth. Now, with TRILLIUM, Lemire not only returns to Vertigo with another brilliant project, but looks to help bolster the flagging line of comic books that was once the shining star of mature/independent comic books publishers and imprints.
Where TRILLIUM might have a passing similarity with Sweet Tooth thematically and visually (both series dealt with a humanity ending plague or virus), TRILLIUM is a step above his other Vertigo works in the aspect that here, Lemire is pushing his creative storytelling and artistic talents to the max by creating a whole new era of mankind: an era that is set 1784 years in the future. He also is simultaneously re-creating a bygone era, that of the 1910s-20s. Visually, Lemire pulls both eras off beautifully. How the story of these two vastly separated eras and their protagonists will continue to cross and intertwine is set up brilliantly by mixing a little "ancient aliens" theory with a love story that just might be the basis of the salvation of the human race.
TRILLIUM #1, on its surface, appears to suffer from an unneeded gimmick though. It is a flip book that tells the opening of both Nika and William's stories separately until their ends where a special meeting occurs. This "gimmick" might at first seem a bit trite, but in Lemire's hands it actually works out well. Hopefully, we won't see much more (if any) of this type of flip book mentality in subsequent issues, but if Lemire makes smart use of it there, as he does here. Then it won't be all that bad.
Overall, TRILLIUM #1 is the most interesting and well written first issue of, not only a new Vertigo title, but nearly any first issue of any title released yet this year. Do yourself a favor and get in on the ground floor of this great new mini-series. You won't regret it.