Sweet Tooth: gripping, post-apocalyptic graphic novel off to a killer start

Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods is a great post-apocalyptic graphic novel in the tradition of The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man, featuring likable innocents walking a blasted, ruined America, helped and hindered by good people gone bad, and bad people gone worse.

In Sweet Tooth, we meet Gus, a 9-year-old boy living in a shack in the woods with his dying, deeply (and crazily) religious father. Gus isn't like other boys: he lives in the woods and has never seen a living soul apart from his father (and his mother, who died when he was an infant).

Oh, and Gus has antlers.

Some sort of plague has destroyed the world; a plague that made some children born part animal, a plague that is killing Gus's father. All Gus's father wants from his boy is for him to stay hidden once he is alone, to stay in the woods and avoid the fires of hell that burn outside their woods. But when his father finally dies, Gus is hunted by evil men from beyond, and then rescued by a strange, dour fellow who promises to take him to The Reservation, where other children like Gus are kept.

So begins the road trip, spattered with violence and slow revelations about the hell that has been visited on the earth. This first volume only gets the story started, gets us to a place of extreme and intense suspense, and then cuts off. If you can't wait to find out what happened next, you can try your local comic-shop for the singles that follow, but I'm going to wait for next December, and volume 2 of the bound graphic novels.

Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods