“Sweet Tooth,” at a glance, probably looks like a lot of other series you’ve seen before. You might think to yourself, “Strange children escaping from a secret lab? Isn’t that a plot that’s been used over and over again?” And sure, it has. But in reading the latest issue of “Sweet Tooth,” I’m reminded once more that Jeff Lemire makes his comics different not in a simple plot twist or idea, but instead through the way he writes his characters and makes you care for them.
In the latest issue, for example, Gus and the other hybrids were just recaptured and taken back into captivity, where the scientists are examining, experimenting on, and dissecting the children to figure out why people are now giving birth to human/animal hybrids. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, right? Except in this case, we’ve got characters like Gus, or Mr. Jepperd, and they’re the ones that bring “Sweet Tooth” fully to life.
When Jepperd remembers his deceased wife and talks about how the finer details of her features are starting to fade away in his mind, it’s heartbreaking. It helps that Lemire is both writer and artist on “Sweet Tooth,” able to fully realize his image of the two bars over Jepperd’s face, one with his wife’s image, the second with the image starting to blur away. (Although to be fair, the latter image depends in no small part on Jose Villarrubia’s beautiful colors.) It’s a creepy and sad moment for the character as well as the reader, and that’s something that “Sweet Tooth” is peppered with.
Of course, Lemire’s plot itself is good in its own right. When the attackers break in, it’s a tense, grim moment because no matter how well our “good guys” do, you can almost feel the end result of casualties around the corner. And as Singh continues to explore the information about Gus’s true origins that were found in the grave, more questions are getting posed to us about how the hybrids truly began and just what these keys and ID cards to a base that doesn’t exist portend for the future. Singh starting to lose it over the “prophetic” words he’s finding in the diary doesn’t feel overly dramatic; it’s a nice, understated moment in “Sweet Tooth” even as it sets up more craziness to come.
“Sweet Tooth” is one of those series that grows on you slowly but surely. With each new issue, Lemire draws me into its pages that much more. Like so many new Vertigo series lately, this is a smart comic that begs to be read and re-read multiple times. If you’re not reading “Sweet Tooth,” definitely check it out.