Sweet Tooth #26
By Zak Edwards
October 5, 2011 - 23:05
Publisher(s): DC Comics
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire
Penciller(s): Matt Kindt
Letterer(s): Patrick Brosseau
Cover Artist(s): Jeff Lemire
Jeff Lemire is one of DC Comics’ rising stars. His Animal Man and Frankenstein comic books, both part of the DC reboot, have been getting rave reviews and topping many of the ‘Best of’ lists discussing the first round of comics. With these additional duties, I was getting worried about Lemire’s best work, a little book called Sweet Tooth, and how it was going to do now that invariably more lucrative prospects are coming. It seems Lemire has dealt with this by handing the artistic portions of the book off to his good friend Matt Kindt, and the results could not have been better.
This isn’t the first time Lemire has used other artists for Sweet Tooth, this was done before in an experimental batch of short stories in issue #19, which also featured the work of Kindt. That issue worked beautifully, using other artists’ interpretations of Lemire’s characters for some differing perspectives, but this is the first time Lemire is passing them off for an extended period of time. Matt Kindt will be joining Sweet Tooth for entire arc, three issues to be precise, for a flashback story taking place in Alaska. The story itself has a vague Frankenstein (the book by Mary Shelley, not Lemire’s other comic) element to it, with a man writing home from the cold, cold Arctic ocean in search of something. Of course, in Sweet Tooth, the something is a someone: a doctor on a Christian Mission to bring the “seal-hunting savages” the Good Word of sorts. Troubling yet appropriate language aside (given the period), the story has all the themes and influences of the series in a fresh light, both the old science fiction; H.G Wells is an obvious influence in a lot of Lemire’s work, and the combination and conflicts of religious and scientific discourses. Lemire’s protagonist, Mr. Thacker, is thankfully very fleshed out, almost instantly being a character at once familiar and strange. His attraction to taxidermy, coupled with Kindt’s fairly horrific shots of dead animals throughout the story, is disturbing and appropriate. Thacker is rounded: haughty and entitled, but not above admitting, if only to himself, that those hired to aid in his expedition are maybe useful, even if those characters are less interesting. The Captain and his companion occupy more stereotypical roles, but rounding them out is neither necessary or distracting, they simply just are. The obvious draw is the events to come, how they connect to the plague that has destroyed Gus’ present, and why the main characters in that present are drawn to Alaska by a disturbing force. Overall, the tale is good, a welcome departure from the long-building main story that has me extremely interested.
Matt Kindt’s painted illustrations only benefit from the matte paper Sweet Tooth is printed. The simple style, with wonderful colours and very minimal but effective work that complement the story and the setting. Kindt’s style is hard to describe, but is gorgeous to look at. The Northern Lights are vivid as the group tramps across the barren snowy landscape, and the characters, each with their defining features that add to their personality without becoming an annoying metonym, are expressive. But the tone and mood Kindt conveys is easily the most gripping part of his work, which let’s the situations and script play out easily and wonderfully. Lemire talks about trusting artists in the back section’s interview, and that cohesion is obvious here.
Grade: A Just what this series needed, not that it shows any signs of slowing down.
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