Monday, December 14, 2020

Sweet Tooth: The Return #2 Review


Memories Return And Secrets Revealed

Written By: Jeff Lemire
Art By: Jeff Lemire
Colors By: Jose Villarrubia
Lettering By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 9, 2020

Review by: Gabriel Hernandez

Gus aka Sweet Tooth has escaped into the Downside. Bits and pieces of his life before capture bubble up to the surface of his mind as he searches for anyone else to help him understand who he really is. Soon, Gus encounters a young girl, Penny, who tells him all about the people of Downside and the existence of other hybrids. Gus realizes Father has been lying about everything, but before he and Penny can do anything about it, they’re captured by Father’s militia. In holding, Gus begins to understand his captivity is not for his own good.

Was it good?

Yes. Lemire’s storytelling ability is excellent, and this issue is no exception. 

We open with disjointed flashbacks to Jepperd and Gus’s time before his capture. The effects of his memory erasure are fading. Names, faces, impressions all blurt out his mind randomly with no sense of continuity to hold it together. In a fine bit of symbolism, Gus’s mind begins to emerge from its amnesia in the same way he begins to emerge from the tunnels leading away from his prison.

Still in the Downside but outside of Father’s facility, Gus sees the town and its people from a distance. The revelation that there are others living below beside himself and Father’s men force more memories to the surface. Here, the reader gets a strong sense of Gus’s agony, and Lemire paints a poignant picture.

Meanwhile, Gus’s escape is discovered and Father calls on his militia to find him.

Gus encounters a young girl named Penny who is surprised by the presence of a hybrid in the Downside. She tries to get Gus to follow her back home as it‘s implied the townspeople are sympathetic to the plight of the hybrids. It’s here that Gus learns from Penny about Father’s oppression towards the Downside’s citizens, but they’re captured before Penny can convince Gus to follow her home.

The capture is witnessed by one of the townspeople. He alerts the town, including Penny’s mother, and they begin making plans for her rescue. It’s in their hidden planning room we begin to learn about a prophecy telling of a hybrid that leads the townspeople to freedom.

Back in Father’s prison, Gus is forced to take more injections that Father now reveals is not meant to keep him from getting sick but part of a poisonous plan of revenge against the hybrids of Topside.

Lemire amazingly manages to tell a lot of story in a very small space. Looking at the scope of where Gus starts the issue and where he ends up, there’s effectively no forward progress. Yet,.the readers learn a heck of a lot about the Downside, Father’s true role as it’s oppressive leader, and a building sense that the Downside is ripe for revolution. 

Gus also experiences some character growth as his naive understanding of Father and the facility is ripped away, which completely reshapes his worldview in a matter of hours. He doesn’t become cynical over the revelation, but he starts to believe that he’s meant for something else, and that’s an interesting development to watch.

If there's any downside (no pun intended) to the issue, it’s Lemire’s art. The art gets a pass because Lemire has mastered the one drawing element that matters most - the eyes. Emotion is expressed through eyes more than anywhere else, so I can mostly forget the rough lines and amateurish composition as long as Lemire keeps getting the eyes right to let the emotion shine through. That said, the art is rough to the point of amateurish, and it hurts the quality of the book.

Bits and Pieces

Sweet Tooth: The Return #2, available from DC Comics on December 9th, weaves an intricate tale of memories, revelations, and discovery. Lemire uses subtle storytelling to build an entire world at record speed without making the story feel rushed. The art is passable at best but it carries the story where it counts.


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