Friday, April 25, 2014

Sweet Tooth, Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods

I very much enjoy the work of Jeff Lemire in general. I think that his spare and brutal Essex County Trilogy was inspired and brilliant. His superhero work on titles like Animal Man was well crafted, and his original works like The Underwater Welder and Trillium are incredibly well plotted and characterized. He is a multiple award winner, and I very much enjoy his atmospheric and deceptively simple-looking art.

Out of the Deep Woods collects the first 5 issues of Sweet Tooth, Lemire's 40-issue series of comic books set in a post-apocalyptic USA where a nuclear plague is wiping out humanity while also spawning hybrid creatures that combine features of humans and animals. One of these hybrids is Gus, who lives in an isolated cabin in the woods with his father, the only family (human being actually) he has ever known. Gus is 9 years old, full of his dad's religious teachings, and widely ignorant of the ways of the world. He also has some survival training, which comes in handy after his father dies. Of course, he eventually runs afoul of some humans.
Original scan from iFanboy. Also, as you can see here this book has some mature language and violence, so I recommend parental guidance.
He ends up tagging along with a strong, silent type named Jepperd, who seems to be offering protection but may also have ulterior motives of his own. I won't go on further to spare spoilers, but let me just say that this story gets addictive pretty quickly. This first volume excellently sets up the premise and characters and also sets a suspenseful and compelling narrative in motion. I know that this genre is very popular and almost omnipresent right now, but this book is exceptionally done and well worth exploring. Lemire speaks extensively about his work on Sweet Tooth all the way until the series' conclusion (so there are spoilers) in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read for this series have been full of praise. iFanboy's Paul Montgomery gave this volume 5 stars and added, "I'd be really happy to see a book like this go on for however long Lemire wants it to proceed." Joey Esposito called it "a great hook into this new series." Ian Aleksander Adams called it "amazingly irresistible. It’s executed very very well and makes for an enjoyable read."

Out of the Deep Woods is now titled Out of the Woods, apparently, and was published by Vertigo. For more information, you can visit the book's official blog, though it has not been updated in a long while.

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