by Jeff Lemire (writer & artist), Jose Villarrubia (colors), and Pat Brosseau (letters)

The Story: Gus meets Dr. Singh and has a shocking revelation.  Meanwhile, Jepperd simply tries to forget.

What’s Good: Despite being in a post-apocalyptic future full of horrid people, and despite starring a boy that’s half deer, like most of the past issues of Lemire’s series, this month’s issue of Sweet Tooth feels distinctly human on many levels.  There are so many genuine, strong emotions called forth, here.  All of it feels honest, almost in a “slice of life” kind of way.  None of these emotions carry even the slightest  hint of artifice or construction, despite this being a written text.  For instance, Jepperd’s camp side conversation with Louise is a genuinely funny moment, a brief glimmer of light in a world that is pitch black.  The fact that you’re sure to laugh at Jepperd’s joke only pulls you closer to these two characters, as you too find yourself amused and comforted by Jepperd’s jest despite the unrelenting brutality and nastiness of Sweet Tooth’s world in general.

Or there’s Jepperd’s trauma and the kind of self-flagellation he undergoes.  Lemire’s narration here is brutally simple, enhancing his character’s dire state.  As the character tries to forget, attempting to render himself unconscious in painful fashion, we come into contact with that dark hole that always lurks beneath Lemire’s book, threatening to suck everything down.  More importantly, due to Lemire’s minimalist narration, we truly understand Jepperd and feel his pain.

Meanwhile, Gus’ portion of the issue is no less engaging, as Lemire introduces us to Dr. Singh.  All told, it’s a fantastic juxtaposition between a scientist at the extremes of an adult “ends justify the means” doctrine, and Gus’ Christianity-tinged innocence and “black and white” sense of right and wrong.  The back and forth the two have is intriguing, if only because Gus seems unable to accept, or fully comprehend, Singh’s stance, while Singh can only look at Gus’ ideas as a kind of naive idealism he wishes he could still inhabit.

Of course, a lot of this isn’t laid out in words.  Much of it comes solely from Lemire’s illustrations which, as always, are in perfect sync with his script.  Dr. Singh in particular is fantastically drawn.  Regardless of what the doctor says, his constantly world-weary expression and tired, glassy eyes evidence a man who’s exhausted, someone who’s seen far more horrors than any man should.  Compared to the always wild-eyed Gus, the difference is stark.  Lemire also has some good fun with layouts this month, using creative paneling to mirror the fade in and out of consciousness.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a huge slam-bang revelation at the end of the book?  It’s sure to raise a few eyebrows.

What’s Not So Good: As is so often the case with Sweet Tooth, I find very little to complain about.  Admittedly, some portions of the book do seem a little too rough art-wise.  There are a couple zoomed-out panels that look a bit strange, perhaps a bit too distorted or anatomically questionable.  If anything, it’s just a brief departure from the slam-bang splashes and visuals we usually get from Lemire.

Conclusion: Sweet Tooth remains consistently one of the best books on the racks.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans