DC Comics
Sweet Tooth #11
By Zak Edwards
July 13, 2010 - 12:58

Vertigo
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire
Penciller(s): Jeff Lemire
Colourist(s): Jose Villarrubia
Letterer(s): Pat Brosseau
Cover Artist(s): Jeff Lemire
$2.99 US



Issue eleven of Jeff Lemire’s post-apocalyptic Sweet Tooth almost killed me on first reading, quite literally almost ended my life.  It was mostly to do with the fact I was reading the book while walking around downtown and not paying attention to minor pedestrian annoyances like traffic signals and vehicles, the majority of which are bigger and faster than your average university student/ comic book nerd.  But hey, you’re reading this now, maybe in part because of the melodrama, maybe in part because you’re curious about this series, or maybe because you like comparing opinions.  Who knows?  Well, you do, but I don’t, but I digress.  The point of the story, and indeed this article, is to inform you of the undeniable fact of this series’ continued achievements.  Sweet Tooth only continues to grow in it’s engrossing and emotionally powerful story, one which is hopefully not quitting anytime soon.  Some may be turned off by the slow pace, or the large amount of time spent in silent exchanges throughout the story, but I assure you, these elements are part of the strength this series contains, if only asking for a little more than a thoughtless glance.

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This issue is almost completely contextual with the rest of the series, being a continuation of the origin story of the other protagonist Tommy Jeppard and also concluding the second volume of the series.  Thus, for the second group of people, the curious minds, you should probably stop reading this and start reading the first trade of the series or wherever you foolishly stopped reading.  My recent near-death experience must prove at least one point about this book: the engrossing factor.  When Lemire is in the room, I stop and pay attention, and his works have been consistently this attention-devouring since I started reading his Essex County Trilogy years ago (maybe three).  The story's setting is limited, taking place exclusively in the compound Gus and Jeppard end up at in the end of the first volume, with Jeppard in the cage Gus will eventually inhabit, being manipulated into the character he will become.  And while the theme of breaking spirits through emotional blackmail and psychological torture is not really original, and perhaps has been done better other places, but the significance of the body of Jeppard’s wife adds weight not only to the character, but to the desperate world Lemire has created, which lacks the hope and optimism od the often compared to Y: The Last Man (which, I maintain, is a fairly poor thought out comparison, comparisons to the works of H.G Wells is probably more productive).  This book has weight and emotional resonance found in little other books on such a continual basis, and coupled with the fact you cannot tear away from a book consisting mostly of multiple conversations between the same two men in the same setting is making full use of Lemire’s ability, requiring a self-confidence lacking in many more conventional books out there.  This issue could have been much more action, more people, more so-many-other-things, but Lemire creates a story dependent on few qualities and no hooks, except, of course, the preview of the next issue, which suggests some serious plot developments.  Lemire is wisely taking his time, and I will continue to follow.

I find the art specifically something which has been discussed multiple times in many reviews.  Lemire has a very distinct style; emotional, quietly powerful, and rugged like the rural settings his stories take place in.  This issue is more reliant on dialogue than most others, but Lemire manages to keep an entire book, which barely changes the setting from a single room, deeply engaging.  However, a special note at this point needs to be given to Sweet Tooth's colourist Jose Villarrubia, whose colours really enhance Lemire’s already expressive artistic abilities.  The brief, three page major fight scene features some panels which are fairly different than Lemire’s usual style, but are accented by the extreme colouring, particularly the red, which makes the art that much more geometric and heavily outlined, removing much of the rougher and lined drawings of Lemire.  The choice pays off and Sweet Tooth’s art continues to impress as much as the story.

Grade: A+    Nearly fatal in how good it is!


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