Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods
Described by the USA Today as “Mad Max with antlers,” Jeff Lemire’s new series of post-apocalyptic graphic novels departs from the quiet domestic tales of his previous works into territory more reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Gus is a hybrid, a child raised in the wake of a mysterious plague that has decimated mankind and bearing strange, animal-like attributes. Hybrids also possess a curious immunity to the lingering sickness that threatens the few adult survivors that remain, an immunity that also makes them a valuable commodity for those who would find a cure.
Gus’s father does what he can to protect his son from poachers, but when the father himself succumbs to the sickness, Gus must break his father’s rules and venture outside the secluded wood where he had been sheltered all his life. With the help of a violent but seemingly benevolent drifter named Jepperd, Gus sets out for “The Preserve,” a place rumored to provide sanctuary for hybrid children. Along the way, the pair encounter the worst of the human remnant, desperate individuals who do whatever they can to survive amid the ruins of civilization.
As you might expect, there’s plenty of gunplay and violence, but the heart of the story is the inner world of the character Gus, revealed not so much through the terse, sparse dialog as through several surreal dream sequences in which Gus struggles to reconcile his decision to leave the secluded woods with his need to survive in his father’s absence. And it’s here that Lemire is really in his element, exploring inner conflicts similar to those experienced by the small-town protagonists in his earlier books, The Essex County Trilogy and The Nobody.
The sequel In Captivity, just released this month, continues the story in what looks to be a promising series. I’ll keep you posted as soon as my library’s copies arrive…