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Review Group Sweet Tooth #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, September 08 2009 and posted in Reviews
House of J had the pick for new comics shipping September 2nd and he selected Sweet Tooth #1 by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarrubia. {nomultithumb}

The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.
Sweet Tooth #1 seems to be the perfect marriage of a creator with buzz along with a $1 cover price.  The Review Group certainly dug the last $1 Vertigo book we reviewed (The Unwritten), what did we think this time around?

Review by 48THRiLLS

The title of this book is dumb... I probably would not have picked this up if I didn't know the gist of the story and the fact that it was a buck. Aside from the name this was fantastic, it was a number one so there was some set-up but there is no time wasted getting started. You get a great feel for the character, definitely over protected and a little on the not bright side but so very likable. After a heartbreaking part with the death of his father this thing starts to take off then BLAM-O! 'to be continued'. To be continued indeed... I am there, this was great.

The art side of things was average but quite fitting for the story being told, nothing that made me poop myself but it wasn't bad enough to turn me off either.

STORY - 9.5
ART - 7

Review by doombug

Saying I loved this book almost as much as The Unwritten would be truth. I was intrigued by the project in the solicits 3 months back and then got to listen to the Word Balloon interview. Jeff Lemire is a very, very talented man.

The art style fits the overall tone of the book very well, though I'm certain it will take some readers some time to get used to it. Our lead character is surprisingly innocent in the world he lives in and we get very minor hints as to the back-story of the actual world.

What I find the most interesting is just how well Jeff managed to pack in the tension till the very end which I remember seeing in a preview somewhere but it still hits pretty hard.

At the end of the day it's a great addition to the Vertigo line and I cannot wait to see where the story goes.


Review by Old Man

Okay, you forced me to do this.

Spoilers ahead. Don't come crying to me, beech trees.

I didn't buy it, but I did use my library card to read it. Yep. Too cheap to buy it for a buck.

Lemire spends the first 3 pages carefully showing Antler Boy at the top of a panel, in close-ups, and in shadow so as to hide the antlers from the reader until the big reveal on page 4. But there is no suspense to the scene, as both the preview that was available just about everywhere online (and in the Vertigo books prior to this week) and the cover spoils the reveal.

The story is set in a post apocalyptic world. Must everything be set in these worlds? I am so burned out on post apocalyptic tales. (In fact, argument may be made that I am burned out on just about everything; I am old; I am cranky.) In this world, the apocalypse has been brought about by a virus.

Antler Boy has mutated from the normal human form, and grown antlers.
Antler Boy (wouldn't it be simpler in the rest of the review if I just typed AB? Or perhaps called him Abbie?) is an inarticulate boy who has been raised in the wilderness by his bereaved father after the apocalypse and his mother's death. His father has inculcated him with fearful religious beliefs that have left him mostly innocent, and definitely susceptible to the evils of the world.

There are people who hunt the abominations that are the mutated creatures. They hunt them as trophies, I guess, and maybe just for sport. I know I would. So as to catch Abbie, the hunters leave candy bars set out as bait. Of course, Abbie takes the bait, much to the horror of his father, who has warned him repeatedly of the evils of mankind.

Eventually, Abbie's father bites the big one. Abbie buries old pappy, and is spotted by evil hunters. A shot rings out, and a deer lies dead. An idiot hunter has slain Bambi, who may or may not be related to Abbie. The hunters then capture Abbie, have their way with him (wait, I made up that part; no bestiality here), and prepare to kill him. Another shot rings out, and one of the hunters lies dead. The killer/avenger-of-Bambi walks into the scene and starts making a speech. End of chapter one.

There are other problems I saw with the issue. in one scene, a candy bar is shown in a snow bank. The print is upside down. 2 panels later, it is upside right. In addition to the lack of suspense about the antlers, there is no suspense to the final scene because the final scene is what has been presented as the preview. After Abbie buries his father, he stands over the grave. In that panel, there are 2 streaks of black ink covering his eyes. I'm guessing they are supposed to indicate that he is looking down and mourning. But the angle of the head looks wrong. Minor thing, but there it is. And in the last scene, after the killer/avenging guy walks into view, he doesn't even bother to train his gun on the other evil hunter. Instead, he stands there and speechifies. The other hunter still has his rifle in his hand. Not very smart of the avenger-of-Bambi.

This is the first I have heard of Lemire, but that means nothing, really. I live in a chrysalis (similar to a cocoon). Once I emerge from the chrysalis and harden my wings, I sometimes discover new things. His art is somewhat typical of independent comics art. It gets the job done. It is not spectacular. It will never be mistaken for standard superhero art. The storytelling is fine enough. It's often hard to know what you will get with a creator who is new to you. Yes, I had quibbles, but I'm taking medication for that.

I don't know how to grade this book. I'm torn between 6 and 7. To me, a 6 means I won't read it again. A 7 means I'll read it again, but it had better improve or I won't buy it. But I didn't buy this issue. I'll probably read issue 2 to see where it is going. I can't give it an 8, even though I'd only take 1 point off for lack of suspense, and 1 point off for the art. An 8 is just too much for this comic at this time. A year from now, if I am still reading this, I might revise my grade. But for now, I'm going with 7 because it is easier to write a 7 than a 6 or 8.

Final Grade: 7

(You know, I forgot to count the points on Abbie's antlers, so I don't even know if he'd be a good trophy.)

Edited to add: I knew I was forgetting something that I wanted to mention in the review. Near the end of the issue, Abbie (whose real name is Gus, btw) is running from the hunters and trips over a tree branch. Man, what a cliché. Plodding, evil villain chasing swift victim must always have a stroke of luck in catching the victim. Sheesh.

Also, as a sign of how effective this comic was at telling its story -- even after all the things I have mentioned about the story -- I have reviewed it from memory. I only read it once.

Review by starlord

If it wasn't for the members of both The Outhouse and the great group of people that I hang out with at my LCS (including the wonderful and puny...errr... funny) Old Man, I might never have discovered Vertigo. For that I thank you all.

The last new Vertigo book I read, I believe, was The Vinyl Underground, which I ended up enjoying until its cancellation, so I was totally jazzed on reading this. I mean it's Vertigo! They hit more than they miss for me. Are you sensing a but coming up? Okay, here it is...

But I've never had a Vertigo book that I sat down with no opinion at all. Unfortunately, that's how I felt with Sweet Tooth. There wasn't much that piqued my curiosity here, and I really didn't care for the artwork at all.

I just had the feeling that the author was working a bit too hard to make it weird and different. Did he succeed for me? Not really. Boy with antlers, meh, I've seen hornier young men in my youth than him. End of the world cataclysm that has changed what is normal in society... been there, read that before.

Honestly, I can't say I didn't like it. I just can't say I did like it, either. It just seemed to be there... like a table lamp. It did what it was supposed to do, but it didn't shed new light on anything either.

Story: 6
Art: 5
My Score: 5.5

Review by guitarsmashley

This isn't going to be a review for Sweet Tooth so much as it is going to be me licking Jeff Lemire's ball sack. My only problem with this issue is how fast a read it was. The issue is stark when it comes to dialogue and even in some cases action but I think this is all by design. The issue is supposed to be bleak it's supposed to be isolated, if this is what it was supposed to feel like it then it succeeded immensely. The art was perfect for the book and I loved the story. I loved the story so much that when I hit Atomic Comics buy 2 get 1 free sale I grabbed The Nobody and I just finished it. The Nobody is a great book as well and when I put my November order later today the Essex County trade will be in it. I'm hooked Lemire after two stories. The unfortunate thing will be buying this in trade so Ashley will read it (she likes trades). Great issue with a lot of promise.



Review by Punchy

Story - Comics have a strong history of stories set in Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands, from Jack Kirby's Kamandi to Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra's Y: The Last Man, this particular milieu has proved a fertile setting for all sorts of stories, and has many more permutations (or atomic mutations) than you'd expect. So now we have Vertigo's Sweet Tooth, yet another wasteland book. But is it a waste of paper?

Haha, no, of course it isn't. Although this debut issue is mainly set-up for the world Jeff Lemire is going to explore, Sweet Tooth is a different kind of Post-Apocalypse book, it's weird, it's off-beat, and it's Vertigo. Jeff Lemire is somewhat of an child-wunderkind these days, his Top Shelf GNs Tales Of Essex County, and his Vertigo OGN The Nobody have been critically acclaimed, but I personally haven't read any of them, but on the strength of this issue, I will do so post-haste (or as soon as I have some money). Lemire's previous work apparently focuses on small-towns and how they act under certain circumstances, and in Sweet Tooth, he's dealing with the smallest community possible at first, a community of 2. Gus and his father live alone in the woods, isolated from everyone else. Oh, and Gus is a Deer-Hybrid mutant, So It's like Bambi, and also that Fall Out Boy video, and they live together in the Woods because the world has gone to hell. So there's that.

Lemire narrates the issue with Gus' rather childish thoughts. His grammar is mixed up slightly, and there's a sense of childish wonder, his description of Telephone poles as 'falled-over crosses' is poetic, and haunting. Haunting, that's the word I'd use to describe the feel of this book most of all, there's a sense of melancholy which pervades the issue, from Gus' attempts at play ('Get out Sinner!'), the way the chocolate bars stand out amongst the pure white snow, and the wonderful double-page spread where the seasons change and Gus' father passes away. It's really a sense of isolation that is presented here, and that's incredibly fitting.

So, Gus is left alone in the Woods because of his father's death, and this is where really, the adventure begins. He runs into 2 hunters, who attempt to capture him, and then is rescued by a mysterious one-eyed man who he has been seeing in his dreams.

Thinking purely plot-wise, this issue is pretty light, but as I said, there is a melancholia here, this issue has a genuine feel to it. Lemire has set up a tone unlike any other Vertigo book really, this is more about the quiet moments than the action. I'd have to read his previous works first, but I presume this how an Indie sensibility applied to Vertigo works. And of course, there are more than a few mysteries here, why did the world go all to hell? Why are babies being born with animal bits? What is the sickness that killed Gus' parents? Who is this one-eyed man? Why is Gus dreaming about him? There are all strong hooks, and are sure to hook anyone in.

Overall, this is a great first issue, it may be a little light on story, but when you're only paying a Dollar (or 80p), and the creator has created such a strong sense of what the book's tone is, you can't really complain. Much of the imagery in this book will stick with me for a while, you can't get any higher praise than that.

Art - And the chief reason why this book will stick with me is the artwork. Unusually for a Vertigo book, Lemire is illustrating as well as writing, and he does great job. Perhaps the reason the book feels so strong in it's tone is that it's all coming from one mind, but Lemire's scratchy indie art perfectly convey's Lemire's story, the trees of the deep-woods are simply lines, but this makes them look like bars to a jail-cell, which in a way, they are. Gus is spindly and small, the world is towering around him. The aforementioned 2-page spread is wonderful, and the image of Gus standing between his parents graves is one of the most haunting in a book choc-full of ghosts. And then there's my favourite bit, Gus' confrontation with a real-life Deer, and how we see his eyes... and the Deer's, and they are the same. Hits to the core of the book. Lemire's previous work has been in Black and White, so there may have been some fears that his work would suffer in the jump to full-colour, but this is not the case, Jose Villarrubia is a master colourist, and the tones used here are also great.

This is great cartooning, it may not be for everyone, but it suits the book exactly.

Best Line - 'Til there wasn't nothing left. Just me... me and the Deep Woods'


Review by Mr_Batman

I certainly enjoyed this comic book, and I'm surprised, but at the same time, I'm not. There was some great writing in this comic, and I absolutely loved it. Gus is written so well, even though he's a new character. I'm really excited as to where this goes next. This could turn out to be a really good series. It was just excellent story wise, and I can feel for this kid, whom I had no idea about just days before this book came out. That's when I know it's been a good comic

As for the art, it really didn't do anything for me. Though I will say I think it's perfect for this comic. Like I said, I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it. What I'm trying to say is that this isn't the kind of art I'm used to seeing. It only adds to the story that's been established.

Overall, a fun comic, that I will DEFINITELY stick with. Stay tuned.

Story- 8
Art- 7.5
Overall- 8 (Gotta love that cover)

Review by Kerny

Wow. I was really impressed by this. Gus the deer boy is a character I could see really liking. He's from the classic mold of not terribly intelligent, but it pure and innocent. If this issue is any indication, I'm looking forward to where this story takes us, because I think the world Gus lives in is pretty damn interesting. Like others have said, it was a quick read. Also, I thought it was weird to hide the fact he had antlers in the beginning when it was rather known he did from all the previews

Also is it me or is it becoming a weird trend for teenagers/emo kids to like the plaid shirts and antler horns? I've seen some art in other places and a Fall Out Boy video comes to mind....but anyways I'm off subject

The art was ok. It's nothing fancy. It fits the story though, I don't think this book would work as well as it did with another artist on it for example. Plus I like that he's writing and drawing his own story.

Story 9
Art 7.5
final score: 8.25 (heh)

Review by amlah6

As far as first issues go, this was a pretty good one. We get introduced to a new and intriguing world and are given a character for the audience to connect to. The art was expressive and easy to follow. I dug this a lot and look forward to reading it in trades.

Story: 8
Art: 8
Overall: 8

Review by House of J
I liked the book, liked the atmosphere it evoked. It's always interesting to see a writer/artist who doesn't have to collaborate with many people to get the work done. Vertigo should take more chances like they've been doing with books like this. Deer are cool too, and I like the way Gus has that deer-in-the-headlights stare. Lemire did a superb job with Gus in issue 1, hopefully the characterization for the old guy will also be as interesting.


Review by Chris

I was late to the Jeff Lemire party, having just gotten into his Essex County stuff and The Nobody OGN for Vertigo this summer... but if there's one thing I've learned in my short time as a fan, it's that Lemire knows how to craft a truly touching story like no one else in the business. Sweet Tooth looks to follow in the steps of the Essex County trilogy in that department.

Although the first issue was mostly setup, it still managed to make you care for it's characters. In 22 all-too brief pages, Lemire introduced us to his world.. post-apocalyptic in nature, and inhabited by mysterious human/animal hybrids, the most important of which is Gus, a little boy with antlers living in the woods.

I've been looking forward to this book all summer, and it's paid off.

Fantastic debut issue, filled with just enough mystery and character moments to keep me coming back.

Some pretty good questions were raised, which hopefully get some answers early on.. mainly, how did the world get to be like it is?

Anyway.. great first issue, and from everything I've read about the book, the setup is there for it to become something very special if given a chance.

Story: 9
Art: 9
Total: 9/10

That gives Sweet Tooth #1 a group score of 8.01. A pretty good start, now let's see where it goes from here.
For further discussion about this issue, feel free to join us in this week's thread ( found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to post your own review.

has the pick for September 10 and he has selected Dark Reign: The List - Avengers from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new Norman Osborne filled thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to post your own review. 

Dark Reign: The List - Avengers

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Marko Djurdjevic

In this first in a series of spectacular one-shots, the finest writers working at Marvel are teamed up with the most sensational artists to unveil the darkest chapters in the Dark Reign! Norman Osborn, fresh from the shocking finale of Utopia, sets his sights on the rest of the Marvel Universe. He sits down and makes a list. A list of things that are wrong with the world. Things that he needs to take care of. And the list includes almost every major player in the Marvel Universe. These specials are exciting game changers for all of Marvel Comics and represent the finest talents. This first chapter has a startling confrontation between members of the New Avengers and Dark Avengers. Clint Barton fans... you are not going to want to miss this one! Plus, a preview of the upcoming Dark Reign: The List titles! One-Shot/Rated T …$3.99

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