April 05th, 2011

Sweet Tooth Volumes 1 & 2

Review By Bernice Watson

There’s nothing new about post-apocalyptic fiction. In fact, sometimes, it feels like everywhere you look in the DVD or comic store you see the world tumbling into chaos amid plagues, nuclear war or hoards of flesh-eating zombies. So it takes something a little bit special to rise above the clamour of the recently un-dead and draw you irresistibly into a world rich in human subtleties and with a melancholy charm that is worlds away from the action-horror vibe of many other works in the genre. Sweet Tooth is such a story.

Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth follows young Gus, a boy raised in isolation by his puritanical father in a world that has been devastated by a mysterious and deadly virus. Gus is just a simple country boy growing up in the American mid-West except for one, minor detail – he’s part deer. Or should that be ‘part buck’? When Gus’ beloved father finally succumbs to the disease and hunters come to their secluded woods looking for ‘hybrids’, Gus finds himself suddenly thrust into the dystopian outside world that his father had laboured to protect him from. Accompanied by embittered loner Mr Jeppard, Gus starts on a journey across America in search of ‘The Preserve’, a rumoured safe-haven for hybrid children.

Lemire (The Nobody, Essex Country Trilogy), recently named as one of Wizard Magazine’s top 25 ‘rising stars’, doubles as both writer and artist on Sweet Tooth in collaboration with Jose Villarrubra (colours) and Pat Brosseau (lettering). Lemire’s art is at times whimsical, frequently grim and always rich in expression and emotion. Villarrubra’s use of dark, muted tones perfectly compliments the twilight world Gus enters when he leaves his woodland home.

These first two volumes of Sweet Tooth introduce readers to a broken world where morality has become subjective, hope is in short supply and everybody has an agenda. With subtle precision Lemire begins to deftly unravel the secrets of Gus’ birth and the devastating plague that has destroyed the world as we know it but, as is so often the case, every answer only spawns still more questions.

 Sweet Tooth, vol. 3: Animal Armies is due out from Vertigo in June this year.

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