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Johnny Bullet
DC Comics
Sweet Tooth #40
By Zak Edwards

January 20, 2013 - 15:51

Vertigo Comics
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire
Penciller(s): Jeff Lemire
Colourist(s): Jose Villarrubia
Letterer(s): Carlos Manguel
Cover Artist(s): Jeff Lemire Variant by Timothy Truman
$2.99 US


It’s hard to believe that Sweet Tooth began forty issues ago and even harder to believe that it has been over for so long.  As the story of Jepperd ended in #39, Lemire takes a double issue to consider the life of the little boy with antlers and provide a moving, optimistic, and beautiful end to a book with so much darkness.  And while many stories that end with this type of epilogue like to bring things back to the beginning, Lemire uses the space to look at the series as a whole.

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One of my favourite moments in all of Sweet Tooth was when Gus dreams of his future self.  He’s wearing a bow and no shirt and quietly walks up to the camera before saying, “Not yet.”  His eyes are cold, his facial expression showing just how much Gus is going to experience between that time in the series and this point in the future.  It was such a powerful moment, showcasing Lemire’s artwork and ability to say so much with so little.  And while this finale features a fairly lengthy narration, the artwork tells the story more than any words can.  Take for example the final moments, where “This is a story” is simply repeated over and over again.  Every page becomes a story, the limitless possibility of what happened that we know but are never told in full.  Lemire could have made this into a long, sprawling epic with little focus, creating shallower stories in a bigger universe (cough, Fables, cough), but instead shows how his story, the story of how a boy with antlers got to live an abundant and full life, is the one that matters above all the others.  Looking back, the series is incredibly concise in its construction, Lemire’s style takes up space and the little exposition the series favoured throughout meant the comics read a lot quicker than most.  So at forty issues, many artists could have told a lot more story in that time, but Lemire told a story that took its time and, really, one that used every inch to amazing effect.

Here, in the final moments, that tradition continues.  Moments are given space to breathe and the focus remains tight.  Sure, we could have had more story, there is abundance of potential here, especially in the rivalry between Gus and Jeppard’s son, but that is not this story.  Instead, Lemire keeps focused on the mundane details while giving summary to the larger moments.  In Sweet Tooth, Gus neglecting to dance is more important than watching the final battle between humans and hybrids.  In Sweet Tooth, lives matter and death keeps its importance, never used without carefully constructed and fully felt emotions.  In Sweet Tooth, the story has been told.  Coherence, something comics have a hard time dealing with, is exactly what Sweet Tooth has in spades.  Lemire came to tell his story and did exactly that.

Really, I can’t wait to reread the entire thing as soon as I get the chance.

Grade: 10/10    Absolutely gorgeous and amazing. Sweet Tooth will take its place on the Vertigo pantheon.


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