I’ve touted the genius of Lemire for some time now. I caught wind of Essex County before it was complete and devoured The Nobody. Sweet Tooth has filled the void left by the cancellation of Young Liars – it is the crusade book, read it before it is cancelled.
Fans of Lemire will rejoice in the opening sequence here where the writer expertly evokes his most accomplished work. Smallville is rural Kansas after all and the wide open spaces and sense of isolation that filled the pages of Essex County is appropriate in this milieu as well.
Then there is the characterization. For those unfamiliar with Connor Kent, there is an explanation as to who this Superboy is, the test tube baby of Superman and Lex Luthor. We get to see his interactions not only with Ma Kent and Krypto, but also with his classmates. We get to see him fight a dangerous Super-foe in Parasite and get an ingenious look at that power he possesses that his idol does not.
However, it is with Lori and Simon that we see the true power of Lemire as a writer. With Lori, the scribe makes it clear that there is back story present here, but manages to keep the new reader in the loop, giving enough info to make it clear who and what she is or was and the conflict her identity causes for Connor. The other is Simon - who is set up as a confidant which will be important for the development of the title hero. It is neat to have an otherwise Jimmy Olsen character be given an insider role as well and I look forward to how this relationship will enhance the stories told.
The singular complaint that can be made for the book is obvious. As with Sweet Tooth, this is a brisk read. It is the kind of thing that will lend itself well to the trade waiter. However, it is not slight, it is just action packed and not full of filler dialogue and splash pages. It is staccato, if you will. Short, but pronounced. It is a meaty entrée, but manages to still be light and refreshing at the same time.
I am not familiar with the interior artist. However, he does an excellent job. Gallo somehow manages to evoke the Johns’ Titan stories that made me fall in love with this character while evoking the storytelling prowess of Lemire’s self drawn work all while setting itself apart as wholly its own. This is a talent to watch for sure.
As strong a debut as we have seen this year, doubly for a superhero book, this was a fun, refreshing read. I hope the trade waiters don’t kill the damn thing.