Sweet Tooth #36

by stephengervais on August 11, 2012

When writer and artist Jeff Lemire announced in May that his DC Vertigo title Sweet Tooth would be ending at issue 40 I had mixed feelings. I was sad to see a series I thoroughly enjoy coming to an end but I was also delighted to have an end date to see just how this crazy adventure would finish. Thoughts of guilt also entered my mind as this is a series I don’t normally buy monthly. I wait and buy the collected trade paperbacks. Could lack of monthly sales been a factor in wrapping up this series? I want to stay optimistic and say no. Hopefully this was the natural progression of Lemire’s planned storyline. Nonetheless I have decided to buck my trend of waiting on the trade and will buy the issues for this last story arc.

Issue 36 opens with dream sequence in which Lemire is not only handling the story and art but also the colors.  The nightmare serves as a sort of refresher for the reader of what has happened thus far and potentially some foreshadowing of what’s to come. Lemire’s signature loose and sketchy style combined with his psychedelic colors makes the nightmare all the more powerful and eerie. Afterwards he hands off the colors to Jose Villarrubia. Villarrubia’s cleaner style makes for a great transition from the dream world to the real world.

The second half of the issue has Gus waking up from his nightmare just as the gang is pulling up to the town of Anchorage, Alaska. I have to admit I found it rushed for the gang to suddenly be in Alaska and to have not had any details of their journey. It would seem to me that the trip itself should’ve been at least a couple of issues long. Maybe for the sake of wrapping up the series in a timely manner the details of the voyage were deemed unnecessary. It could be this is how Lemire intended to wrap up the series but I do have my doubts about that. The most important journey of the series should’ve felt more painstaking and lengthy. The reader should’ve had emotions of relief and joy when the characters finally arrived instead of really no feeling at all because the group just arrives safe and sound. Could it be poor sales or other commitments that the adventure got shortened? We’ll never know but it certainly does have that feel to it.

All this is not to say that this was not a terrific issue. It truly was. How they got there aside this was a perfect first issue to kick off the concluding arc. The gang reunites with Dr. Singh who potentially reveals the source of the hybrid kids and their purpose. Provided we can believe Dr. Singh who appears to have gone somewhat insane. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into detail on his theories but they do answer some lingering questions. Not to be overly cryptic but the answers do result in more questions which leaves us anticipating the final 3 issues.

While most of the action takes place in Alaska it is worth mentioning that the militia has caught up with Bobby and forced him to reveal the destination of Gus and company. This of course just adds to the build up for the next issue. I truly feel bad for Bobby; the poor guy is always in trouble. The pure grief on his face when he exposes the gangs whereabouts make you want to just grab him, give him a big hug and tell him it’ll be alright.

The art as usual is wonderful. Lemire’s haunting style perfectly captures the sadness of this post-apocalyptic world. The Sweet Tooth world is filled with sorrow which is masterfully depicted by the expression work of Lemire. You can almost feel the pain of the characters by the look on their faces.

Although I still feel we’re missing an entire arc before this one the writing is well done. Any piece of work that has you not only think and question but also anticipate as to what may or may not happen has done it’s job. The pages that have Dr. Singh explaining his theories on how the plague started are some of Lemire’s best writing. The dialogue provides essential narrative to move the story closer to what should be an outstanding ending.

 Despite my one complaint this is a solid first issue for the concluding story arc. Signs of a great comic are ones that make you think afterwards and anticipate the next issue. Not only this issue but the entire run has accomplished this. One last note if you’re reading this Mr. Lemire please spare Bobby’s life!

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