I've been reviewing Jeff Lemire's gorgeous, bizarre adventure comic Sweet Tooth since volume one came out in 2010 and I've loved each volume (two, three, four, five). But as the conclusion approached, I worried that Lemire wouldn't be able to tie off all the threads and bring the story to a conclusion that did justice to all the extraordinary moments of grace he visited on the way.
I didn't need to worry. With volume six, Wild Game, Lemire winds up a story that I've been content to follow him in for three years, and does so in a way that is not only deeply satisfying but also incredibly moving. Somehow, in writing and drawing for three years, Lemire pulled the strings in my psyche necessary to creating a nameless emotion that has the complexity of a fantastic glass of whisky -- bitter notes, sweet notes, fiery notes, all pulled together in a chord that left my throat dry and my eyes watering.
Sweet Tooth is a post-apocalyptic story about a world where human mothers start giving birth to animal/human hybrids, just as millions of people begin dying of a terrible plague. Gus, a boy with the antlers of a deer, has been raised all life in a log cabin in a Nebraska wilderness reserve, alone except for his father, who preached a strange, apocalyptic gospel. When his father dies, he is taken in by Jepsen, a bounty hunter who comes to betray him to a militia that guards a team of scientists who are vivisecting the hybrids in the hopes of finding a cure.
The six-volume story is the unraveling of the mystery of the plague and the hybrids, and also the story of the redemption of Jepsen and others -- a story of cruelty and nobility, loyalty and betrayal, madness and sweetness. Book one is about $11, and if you like it, I'm pretty sure you'll love the next five volumes (and you may have a hard time pacing yourself -- now that they're all done, you could probably tear through them in a day). I sure hope they do an all-in-one collection by Christmas, it'll sure make my list easier to shop through.