The Run Through- Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies

In The Run Through, we’ll be looking at completed comic book series, one volume, one week at a time, from the critically acclaimed to the virtually unknown. The goal is to provide our readers with something new to bite into. This isn’t a review, it’s barely a recommendation. It’s an informal glance at comics that made it to their final issue, and we want to read the stories arc by arc, as they were ultimately intended to be consumed. While there may be minor spoilers, any major developments will be vaguely referred to, so don't worry. No stars, no bashing, just what we did and didn’t like. And yes, we want to hear from you too. 

Have you ever been pushed off a cliff? Probably not. But have you ever felt like you’ve been pushed off a cliff? I’m not talking about the falling sensation you get while drifting towards sleep, but the feeling when something unexpected hits you hard enough to push you over that cliffs edge. Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire did just that, and I still haven’t finished falling.

I won’t say this book is perfect, because it isn’t , and I don’t want to start off on a sour note, but I’d rather talk about what’s rocky and then gush for a few hundred words. It’ll come as no surprise I’m not much of a Jepperd fanatic, but he’s getting better. Revenge is such a tired motivator that once Jepperd admitted that Gus had found his way into his heart, the story took a turn for the better.  But even so, Jepperd’s motivation is still fueled by the desire to hurt someone for hurting him. It makes sense, considering his past but revenge doesn’t feel like true motivation. It’s not fair to compare oneself to a fictional character, but have you ever been so impassioned by vengeance that it became your new hunger?

FINALLY. Jerk.

FINALLY. Jerk.

At the end, Jepperd’s motivation changes from revenge to protection. In this, we can hopefully see Jepperd change from a rage filled, man killing widower, to a man in charge with the care of a few hybrid kids. The revelation of his child will most definitely be a major factor in his treatment of the children. I’m positive he’ll care, kill, and even die for the kids, but will he be kind, or resent them? The loss of a child makes this a worthy question in itself, but the new information regarding that same child? It’s hard to predict what that will do to a man.

On the other side of the cage, we have Gus. Now this child should be adored by any and all who read this comic. While still very much a kid, he is growing up. He takes care of the hybrids around him, comforting them, standing up for them, and even kicking some ass and taking some hits for them. Although, it is still painful to watch him believe so deeply in the words of his father, a man who surely loved him and protected him, but built his childhood out of a lie. The man isn’t at fault; he was protecting Gus, but Gus’ understanding of the world is immensely weak and unforgiving because of him and his Bible. Okay, honestly, he was sort of crazy, but I don’t judge. Regardless, Gus is on the right path, and the inclusion of the other hybrid children is empowering his growth spurt. The addition of Wendy, a sweet little pig girl, and Bobby, a toothy mammal with limited speaking ability, is already doing wonders for a family dynamic between the characters, and I can’t wait for more.

No sarcasm here. This is too good.

No sarcasm here. This is too good.

As for Jeff Lemire’s art, damn. His ability to craft the feelings of his characters in prolific scenes and symbols is stunning. Before I had read any of Jeff Lemire’s books, I would shy away from the covers of Sweet Tooth and Trillium, finding them messy. But his art style offers so much more than a passing glance allows. He cuts the scenes with angled panels to build tension and mirrors moments between Jepperd and Gus to show their influence on one another. He tackles facial emotion fantastically, especially considering he works with a lot of animal/human faces.. Some scenes, such as the X style panel during a fight, didn’t work for me. It was too busy, and didn’t flow organically.  Yet we still arrive at some breath taking images conjured by Jeff Lemire. Full pages speak volumes, and his covers do even more. I won’t ever shy away from his work again.

I only ask one thing of Jeff Lemire: don’t scare me the way you did with Buddy, and the way you do in Descender (Dustin Nguyen’s art is beautiful), because I’ll end up having to buy your other stories, and I’m a little tight on cash.

Also, I may have a new series out this week, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be Ghosted by Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Birthright) and, well, a bunch of artists. See ya then!