A stirring, dramatic fourth installment of this most excellent of comic books. Jepperd and Gus take a detour into a little pocket of Hell, and although there is salvation for some, and punishment for others, it is the ending that absolutely floors you. In 5 panels, Lemire manages to pull back the curtain to reveal something very dark and very sinister and puts the potential direction of this story on its head. It’s a question of taking these characters at face value, or trying to understand their motives. For Gus, we have to believe that he is an innocent young boy, seeking protection. For Jepperd, you want to believe that his intentions for protecting Gus and getting him to the Preserve are honest and true. By the end of this issue things may not be as they seem, and what the future holds in store for Gus is anything but clear. As Jepperd points out in a tense stand-off, in a sleazy location far away from safety,
“We’re all dead anyway…now or a week from now…don’t make no difference to me”
and with that Lemire lets us look into the mindset of Jepperd. Is he a realist, a nihilist, suicidal or homicidal. Or something more mercenary or more sinister? Or is he just capable in a hostile situation? Lemire will reveal the answers to this in time. In the meanwhile, we will no doubt see more effortless quality in further installments of ‘Sweet Tooth’. A highlight of 2009, this is a major work in progress, and a delight to read.
SWEET TOOTH #6
On Sale February 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Written by Jeff Lemire • Art and cover by Jeff Lemire
“The new ‘must-read’ book.” – Geoff Johns
“Like a Coen brothers road trip drama… a fantastic post-apocalyptic comic.” – AM New York
“In Captivity” part 1! A new storyline begins for one of the most talked about new series. After the twisted conclusion to the previous issue, take a look back at the first days of the apocalypse and the lengths to which Jeppard is forced to go in order to survive. Plus, discover more details about the disturbing fate of the young hybrid
Another fantastic installment of Jeff Lemires post-apocalyptic fairytale. Sweet Tooth is an intimate, gripping, and, yes, sweet tale of common human decency managing to flourish in a world gone very wrong indeed.
We see Gus and Jepperd move out beyond the ‘sanctuary’ that had kept Gus safe for so long – and he quickly comes to face to face with the horrors that the cataclysm wrought on the human race. The way Lemire portrays this can be subtle and heartbreaking, or devastating in its scope – no spoilers from me here, as you really need to experience it for yourself. Gus’ introduction to a wider world, as an innocent, sheltered from civilisation up to the point when it has already faded into memory, is reminiscent of the boy in McCarthys ‘The Road’, but that is not to say the comparison is a criticsm of Lemires work. Rather, I find the way Gus’ journey is being realised is touching and (within this fictional environment) totally honest and believable.
Jepperd, as surrogate father figure, protector and action hero reminiscent of a very grizzled Clint Eastwood, balances out the naivety of Gus, and brings a weary counterbalance to proceedings.
The pacing is terrific, a mix of action, pathos, tragedy, a nightmarish dream sequence and a great ending, where possibilities really open for this small cast of characters. I have said it before and I will say it again – ‘Sweet Tooth’ is a brilliant read, one of the highlights of ’09 and another classic title from Veritgo. If you haven’t got into it yet, it’s not too late! This is one of those titles where the ‘singles or trade’ debate is null and void in my opinion, as I need a fix of ‘Sweet Tooth’ every month. Your mileage may vary, but one way or another, single or trade, this demands your attention.
One of the highlights of this comic year, good to see it will be with us in 2010;
SWEET TOOTH #5
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art and cover by Jeff Lemire
“The new ‘must read’ book.” – Geoff Johns
“Dark, moving and intriguing.” – Frank Quitely
Surprises abound in this conclusion to the first arc of the red-hot Vertigo series that’s so compelling you’re not going to want to wait for the trade. On the dangerous road to a rumored safe haven, Gus and Jeppard come to a raw moment of truth.
On sale January 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
I think of all the good stuff that Vertigo have put out over the years – Y the Last Man, Fables, The Losers, Unknown Soldier (I know this only scratches the surface) – and I can safely say that Sweet Tooth is comparable in quality to all of those titles. Issue 2 has the same quiet despair and sadness of the debut, as Gus (aka Sweet Tooth) and his potential saviour (who introduces himself as Jepperd) try to figure each other out, and Jepperd, for whatever reason, tries to coax Gus out from the Woods (where the child believes he is safe and protected) to go to the ‘Preserve’. The Preserve is where the mutated children of Earth, free from the sickness that is killing all the rest of the populations, can be safe from the ‘HUnters’, who want to determine the children’s secret for their preservation.
The pacing is relaxed, but the action can be ferocious, and Lemire’s art gives the whole thing a primal, but humane quality. Observe the faces of Gus and Jepperd bathed in the shadows cast by an open fire and there is something beautiful, sad and noble in both of them. The Hunters we have seen so far look either pathetic, terrifying or slightly absurd – and sometimes all of those things at once.
The final page is terrific. I want more. This book is a real highlight of the month now – alongside ‘Walking Dead’, ‘Unknown Soldier’ and ‘The Boys’.
Sweet Tooth demands your attention – there is still time to get in one of the most important and exciting new titles of 2009.
Hey, guess what? Post Apocalyptic fiction need not be Mad Max or Dawn of the Dead or Walking Dead or even Dead Run! Sometimes it can be a little like The Road, which is more focussed on the intensity of relationships in a world changed forever. I guess The Walking Dead is like that to an extent, but The Road is a book and The Walking Dead is a comic, and they are not comparable on a lot of levels – The Road, as a novel, is an intensely suffocating experience, painful, tragic, harrowing and fearful, with only a chink of light pervading the all encompassing tragedy as the story unfolds. A new comic book is, I think, trying something a little different to the usual ‘after the bomb / plague / zombies’ histrionics. It is called ‘Sweet Tooth’, and the first issue is charming and gripping, and plays out like a modern day folk / fairy tale. It reminded me of Pinocchio, with a dash of The Road thrown in (especially the candy bar scene, reminiscent as it was of the Cola scene in Cormac McCarthys book). There is peril, there is sadness and there is hope. There is a boy with Antlers called Sweet Tooth, living in a reserve, told never to stray beyond the boundaries of his environment. The first issue holds many delights and bodes well for future episodes. I don’t know how Vertigo do it, but they continue to find and publish quality. This looks it will be up there with Unknown Soldier as the best of the current line up. I urge you to check ‘Sweet Tooth’ out, especially as the cover price for issue 1 – that is a proper issue 1, not an issue 0 with a reduced page count – is incredibly low and bloody good value. It is on my pull list and so you expect reviews of forthcoming issues.
Issue 1 has been out for a couple of weeks now, but should be available from your local comic shop. Go get!