- To say Sweet Tooth fits firmly in Horror is tough; rather, it rests on the fringe of Horror comics. It has the very tropes and essence of what makes for good horror. Post apocalyptic world ravaged by mysterious illness? Check. Human-animal-hybrid-children, born to normal mothers? Check. Cult that has sprung up around said human-animal-hybrid-children? Check. Group of refugees studying aforementioned human animal hybrid children check, and double check. Yes, it sounds like standard horror fare, except it goes beyond the usual trappings of horror comics, refusing to play to the gross out or creepy effect.
Jeff Lemire crafts a story following Gus the 9 year old deer-hybrid child raised by his “father” in a cabin in the woods. The two shun the outside world and the madness that inhabits it. Gus’s father teaches him survival in the harsh wilderness while instilling a bizarre religious moral code. His father slowly succumbs to the illness, leaving Gus alone and making him promise not to leave the safety of their woods. Of course, that’s like asking a three year old to promise to share: it lasts for all of 10 minutes. Gus wanders off to explore the outside world and is found by poachers hunting hybrid children. The poachers are quickly and brutally dispatched by the hulking Mr. Jepperd, who promises to take Gus to the “Preserve”, a safe-haven for Hybrid children. The two, journey across the Midwest to the Preserve, all along the way seeing what has become of humanity. Be it prostitution, or the strange cult that (although it’s not all that clear) somewhat worships the Hybrid children, it’s the madness that infects the world. As the two draw closer to the Preserve, Jepperd starts to withdraw from Gus speaking less and less. Yes the ending of the first trade is a bit telegraphed by Jepperd’s withdrawal from Gus. The ending is still a gut shot that hits you like a ton of bricks. Gus may very well hold the key to the very beginning of the disease or a cure. Jepperd a tortured man, who merely seeks to bury his past, both literally and figuratively, is left as a sympathetic character.
The story unfolds in a very relaxed pace but by no means is it decompressed; rather, the opposite is true. The trade can be devoured at break neck pace leaving the reader wanting more. The Plot never gets too far ahead of itself.
The artwork from the very beginning sets the tone of the book and cements Jeff Lemiere as a premiere cartoonist in the industry. Jeff handles the art chores with the exception of lettering and coloring done by Pat Brosseau and Jose Villarubba, respectively. Both letter and colorist add to the overall and unique look to the book. Pick up the trades on this series or the single issues. Hell, eBay it if you have to!
Just don’t miss out on a great and unique book.