Jeff Lemire’s “Trillium” #4 has Nika and William’s worlds crossing over with potentially devastating results thanks to a too desperate and too rash military on Nika’s side.
Lemire advances the plot significantly in this issue, which ends on a worthy cliffhanger, and is sure to leave readers anxious for the next installment. The language barriers that Lemire overcame in previous issues between the two protagonists unfortunately raises its head again between Nika’s commander and William’s brother. It’s good that Lemire addresses this very practical plot issue in a believable way, but it does feel like a retread of challenges.
While Lemire does a good job in this issue of advancing the plot in a meaningful way, the relationship between Nika and William still doesn’t work. The emotional connection on which Lemire hangs much of the story has just not been earned, certainly not enough for the tearful and desperate embraces in this issue.
While Lemire’s loose style has a nice organic feel to it, it’s just not the strongest look for a book like this. The lack of specificity and fine detailing doesn’t service the book’s ideas or emotional beats. Facial expressions are extremely rough, frequently to the point of being undecipherable. Additionally, the visual contrasts between Nika and William’s worlds are just not that impressive. Lemire does his best to create distance between them graphically, but on the whole everything is vague and thinly sketched. For example, the “tree painting” that William and Nika find is appropriately crude, but since everything appears rather crude, there’s no distinction between “ancient wall painting” and “modern day real world.” Again, the loose look would work fine for a different story, or even parts of this one, but the dual nature of this story begs for some contrast in execution, not to mention some precision and clarity.
“Trillium” has some intriguing ideas, and issue number four has a dramatic turn worthy of continued reading, but on the whole the story and visuals are not well matched and hold one another back.