Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sweet Tooth #19 Review

This is the first post by Ali90 a lifelong friend who will be somewhat of the comic expert on the blog. He must have I imagine a 20 title habit, so he'll be the go-to guy for the most current reviews, picking out standout releases from Marvel, DC, Vertigo and the indie publishers- Lee

Sweet Tooth #19, from Vertigo Comics. Released on the 2nd of March. Story and art by Jeff Lemire, Nate Powell, Lenox, Matt Kindt. Colours by Jose Villarrubia.

 For those of you who haven't been reading Sweet Tooth, I'm sure it's crept up on your radar at some point. The book is one of a handful to have begun on the Vertigo imprint within the past year or so. Alongside the Unwritten and American Vampire, Sweet Tooth has earned a great deal of critical acclaim in it's almost 20-issue print run.

The issue sees three of the lesser explored characters take a walk and, along the way, explain some of their back story. Riveting, right? Don't be so quick to dismiss the set-up. The book shares a lot of similarities with the Walking Dead in terms of tonality, themes and pacing. Being a post-apocalyptic story, there's a lot of focus on what characters have had to do to survive. What sets Sweet Tooth apart from otter post-apocalyptic books though is the innate optimism and innocence of the 'hybrid' characters. These 'hybrids' are children who are born with animal body parts, after a globe spanning plague. Jeff Lemire's ability to articulate emotions in the most direct and effective ways means this book can really sucker you in and hit you hard. This issue, in particular, managed to hit me flush on more than one occasion.

This issue saw Jeff Lemire enlist three established names of the indie comics scene to guest on art duties, alongside. Lemire's art style has been as strong as it has been unique in it's storytelling. That isn't to say the guest artists weren't a welcome change from the norm. It goes without saying that using different artists for different segments of an issue is nothing new. What sets this issue apart is how we see the art styles act as counterpoints to Lemire's asymmetrical, angular and, all too often, harrowing art style. None of the art changes were too radical so as to detract any from the coherence. Rather they seemed to play to each artists strengths, each with a clear purpose.

Lemire's art serves as a bridge between the other artists segments, allowing a firm sense of continuity and differentiation between the past and present. Nate Powell's panels are disparate amongst the white border. This really hammered home the character's difficulty in opening up about herself. Emi Lenox makes use of a narrative to work alongside her thoughtfully constructed montage. Lenox's pages show Becky as a little girl, telling of her personal transition from a stable family to a life of fear and isolation. Last up is Matt Kindt's pages, telling the story of Wendy. Kindt makes sue of a collage style, not at all unlike David Mack in some respects, which portrays the hazy recollection of what Wendy went through.

Sweet Tooth is a book that Jeff Lemire isn't afraid to take his time with, something a lot of writers could learn from. As always, it was a quick read, but you always feel you're moving somewhere with Sweet Tooth. Issues like this are perhaps the biggest draw of the series though. As I said before, Lemire is a writer who will take the time to flesh out characters and it doesn't feel insincere or false. The book is unpredictable and offers only glimpses of what is yet to come.

If you enjoyed this review and are intresting in purchasing the collected volumes of this series please follow the Amazon links presented below. 
Left to Right: Art by Matt Kindt, Emi Lenox, Nate Powell & Jeff Lemire.