Reviewer: Faith McAdams
Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Genre: Graphic Novel (Softcover)
MSRP: $12.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now
Having fallen in love with Jeff Lemire’s work since Essex County was released a long while back, I expected much from Sweet Tooth. In fact, I expected the series to blow my mind and remind me that some comic books can be downright epic and Sweet Tooth has not let me down in the very least. Being released in a soft cover collection, Sweet Tooth Volume 2: In Captivity contains the next six issues of the series that will not fail to impress.
In a world ravaged by a mysterious plague that ended up killing billions, children born after the first outbreak were delivered into the world as half-human-half-animal hybrids. Among those hybrids is Gus, a boy with the physical characteristics of a deer including antlers. After his father’s death, Gus puts his faith in a violent stranger named Jepperd who claims he will help him reach a sanctuary for kids just like him. As it turns out, however, said sanctuary turned out to be a concentration camp for hybrid children. Gus was sold out for an orange duffle bag that seems to mean a lot to the older man.
Gus finds himself mistreated by the armed men in the facility, especially from the leader that goes by the name of Abbot who makes it clear that he’s holding Gus for a Doctor named Singh. He is placed in a room with other hybrid children who take Gus by surprise. Some don’t talk while one, a pig girl, tells him that there were many children like them but once they are taken away they never return.
Meanwhile, Jepperd travels towards an old house carrying the duffle bag. It’s contents are special to him and, when it is revealed, so is Jepperd’s past. You see, he was once Tommy Jepperd, Captain of the Minnesota Wildcats hockey team. An aggressive man even back then, he was ejected from the game only to calmly go home to his lovely wife, Louise. His wife was an arty city girl from New York while he was a man who worked her grandmother’s spread when the pair hooked up. Jepperd always believed that she was too good for a man like him but they made it work and genuinely loved each another.
Then the plague changed everything as Jepperd makes the decision to leave the home behind in search for a safe haven. As it turns out, though, after the plague ravaged the country the government collapsed, the military disbanded and all radio and television stopped transmitting. People were left in the dark to fend for themselves and – on top of that – rumors that women who give birth after the plague tend to give birth to hybrid children.
Jepperd wasn’t much for anything other than fighting, which made him a good survivor as he and his wife traveled across the land looking shelter. Then Louise drops a major bomb on him that takes the brutish man completely by surprise. I won’t explain further because I would ruin the surprises but Jepperd and his wife end up meeting Abbot … the very same man that Jepperd handed Gus over to in the camp in exchange for the duffle bag.
In the camp, Gus meets Singh, a scientist left over from a time when the camp was run by a government-sanctioned science crew. He believes Gus is nothing like the other hybrid children and – to Gus’ horror – the boy sees what they have been doing to the other hybrids. Still, the young man tells him that he is not afraid but Doctor Singh makes him realize that the scientist thinks he’s too special to hurt. Singh makes a number of interesting discoveries about Gus and thinks his existence might be connected to the plague itself.
To find out every detail since he’s under the pressure of Abbot himself, Singh hypnotizes Gus who goes through his deep childhood memories and discovers things on his own. The more interesting is the revelation of Gus’ mother and the fact that his father might not have had all his marbles. Meanwhile, Jepperd goes on a bender seeing as his motivation to keep on living is gone. Still, there’s a part of the big guy that feels a need to pay Abbot another visit.
Sweet Tooth Volume 2: In Captivity is the very definition of brilliance. Jeff Lemire continues to spin a story that is meaningful, surprising and touching to the point that you will find yourself not wanting to put this volume down. We already consider Sweet Tooth one of the best comic book series to come along and one you should not miss if you consider yourself a comic collector.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
Having been betrayed by Jepperd, the man he came to trust, Gus finds himself in a concentration camp with other hybrid children that are being used as lab rats for a scientist. It becomes clear to his captors that Gus is special and a man of science tries to unlock the truth behind Gus’ existence. Meanwhile, Jepperd keeps a promise to somebody special to him as he goes on a path of self-destruction as he recalls the time before and during the plague.
Visually speaking, Jeff Lemire’s uneven lines and interesting character design makes for a very original-looking comic that is just as wonderfully unique as the writing itself. At times his visuals are even haunting.
There’s a reason that Jeff Lemire is one of the best things to happen to comics in a long time and the proof is in his work. In this second volume of Sweet Tooth, he not only surprises us but also breaks our heart as he weaves a brilliantly told story that makes Sweet Tooth one of the best comic book series that should be picked up right away if you’ve been looking for a great series.
Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)