By: Jeff Lemire (story & art), Jose Villarrubia (colors), Carlos M. Mangual (letters), Gregory Lockard (assistant editor) & Mark Doyle (editor)

The Story: Gus’s group has reached Alaska, but the bad guys are hot on their heels.

A few things: 1). $hit about to hit the fan… – With only 3 issues to go after this, events are going to climax very quickly and that made this the issue where everyone “takes their places” for the finale.  Oh sure….it won’t be quite as simple as Jepperd and his buddy fighting the bad guys while Gus & Co. try to sneak out the back…..clearly other stuff will happen like Gus sneaking back into the fray.  Still, this issue had the effect of bracing all the characters for the finale: they all hug each other, go their separate ways and get ready for the end.

The best moments are the little ones: Gus and Jepperd having a final few moments together, Jepperd’s buddy remarking about their “playoff beards”.

2). Wicked bad guys! – Some pieces of fiction will go to great lengths to make you understand the motivations of the villain: he needs money for his baby’s medical care, he was abused as a child, blah blah……  In Sweet Tooth, Lemire takes the exact opposite approach and is willing to use a few pages to reinforce just how evil the chief villain is.  We readers didn’t really have any doubts about this guy before, but Lemire is still willing to beat us over the head with a couple of cold and heartless scenes.

These scenes have two big effects.  One, they are yet another example of Sweet Tooth being able to showcase a depressing scene better than almost any comic out there.  I mean….this shit is SAD when it happens.  We’ve all seen characters die in comics, but it’s almost never characters as helpless as these hybrid kids.  The second effect is to emphasize the danger to our protagonists.  We KNOW they need to run or fight because there is no possibility of a negotiated solution.  If they are captured they will be killed.

3). Gus as agent of doom? – I’m not really sure what to make of this.  Is sweet little Gus really the agent of the apocalypse?  Did he really cause and spread the plague?  There are a lot of nature vs. nurture things going on here that don’t really appeal to me, but will probably fascinate other readers.  There’s also the scene of Dr. Singh – Man of Science – finding shelter in the church an rambling about the end of the world (especially when you look at the cover and he’s holding the Bible and the journal and looking very priest-like).

4). Gloomy art. – Lemire has such a distinctive style: gloomy and sad.  Sometimes it almost looks like he’s drawing with black watercolor paint.  I know some people don’t enjoy his artwork because he isn’t a Jim Lee clone, but I think the world would be better if we had more guys doing diverse art styles like Lemire.  His ability to capture sadness is uncanny.

Conclusion: A solid issue.  We’re just marking time until the final events of this series that will doubtless be horribly sad and uplifting at the same time.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell