Sweet Tooth: The Return #1 – Jeff Lemire, Writer/Artist; Jose Villarrubia, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Sweet Tooth, the brilliantly surreal future tragedy by Jeff Lemire, was one of the greatest Vertigo series ever written over its forty-issue run. It might be slightly hard reading now due to its plague-themed story, but the bond between young deer-boy Gus and his reluctant protector Jepperd was one of the most powerful character arcs in comics. It’s getting a Netflix adaptation, but first comes this inventive continuation from Lemire—bringing the story into a new era. Set 300 years later, it asks an intriguing question—why do stories keep repeating themselves? The bones of the story are the same—a lonely boy with deer horns is trying to survive a harsh world—but that’s about the only thing that’s the same.
The first Gus had freedom, but no safety. This character has everything but. Supposedly the last hybrid, he’s raised in complete solitude by a mysterious sickly man named Father, and attended to by a pair of masked nannies and an army of sentry robots. His father, a deeply religious man, fills his head with fatalistic ideas and pushes off any of his questions. But as Gus starts to have strange dreams about a tall, elderly man and a world beyond the gates of the woods he lives him, his questions take on more urgency. Lemire is brilliant at setting the tone of a series, and we live in this boy’s claustrophobia for the first half of the story—until he’s had enough and decides to risk everything to make a break for it.
The last part of this opening chapter moves fast, and it’s one stunning scene after another as this boy discovers what lies beyond the walls of his village—and it’s not what we expected. The last few pages raise a lot of questions, and remind me a lot of one of Lemire’s other masterpieces—A.D.: After Death, co-created with writer Scott Snyder. This seems to be a story about cycles, about history repeating itself, and about how far we would be willing to go for the truth. But it’s also a very simple story about a boy who wanted more and an old man who—well, the book hasn’t given us those answers yet. What it has given us is proof that sometimes, the second trip around is just as compelling as the first.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.