Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Sweet Tooth #1
by Jeff Lemire
Vertigo, 32 pages, $1
(Here there be spoilers. Boo!)
First thought: Man, does Lemire’s line work look good in color. For the first issue Jose Villarrubia loads the comic with varying shades of ochre and brown, the only vibrant color being the bright red of the main character’s plaid shirt. Normally I’d loathe such a muddy coloring choice, but it works really well with Lemire’s scratchy linework, giving the characters and setting a solidness I hadn’t felt in his previous books.
Sweet Tooth is about Gus, a young boy with antlers. It’s after the apocalypse apparently, and children are born with odd animal-like deformities, which apparently either makes them objects to be feared or valuable commodities that can net unscrupulous people serious money.
Gus lives in an extremely secluded life in the woods with his ailing dad, but it’s not too long before his father conveniently kicks the bucket, andGus having to fend off two predatory hunters on his own before he is rescued deus ex machina-style by a one-eyed mystery man.
Honestly, it’s too early to tell if Sweet Tooth will amount to anything yet. Gus is a real blank slate right now; I need to see his reactions to the larger world that he will surely come across in future issues before I form an opinion about him. My fear is that his naivete will become a cumbersome device down the road but I want to give Lemire the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, it’s all set-up and exposition here; Lemire hasn’t even gotten his car out of park yet.
That being said I liked this first issue. Unlike a lot of recent Vertigo books, Lemire’s keeps the dialogue to a minimum, letting the visuals guide the reader through the story so that there’s little in the way of clunky, forced, expository dialogue. The few talks between father and son have a warmth to them and Lemire manages to the occasional, haunting images, like that of Gus in shadow, spade in hand, standing over his parents graves. The author seems to be in his woodsy element here, and I’ll be interested to see if he can stay when the series inevitably moves to greener pastures. Just keep those nice color choices comin’ guys.