As a fan of Sweet Tooth, it may be hard for anyone to get used to the changed setting, story and artist of the current story arc — "The Taxidermist" — but if by the end of #26 you were not yet a fan, this issue is going to be the one that grabs you.
In the last issue, we meet Dr. James Thacker, a young English physician, who has traveled for months to find his friend and beloved sister's fiancé, Louis Simpson. Simpson had traveled to Alaska to teach the "savages" there Christianity. But when Thacker got there — along with the ship's commander, Captain Jasper, and one of the ship's mates, Mr. Kemp — what they found was far from what they were expecting. Though, they did find Louis…sort of.
Writer Jeff Lemire is still building quite an intricate fable with this creator-owned title. It is almost Lost-esque in its mystery, minus the fact that Lemire is actually attempting to answer the questions he poses. But what this short arc is doing is giving us a backstory as to how this plague that has afflicted the world of Sweet Tooth came to be. And, in Lemire-style, it is his characters that keep you sucked into the story.
In this issue, this story's protagonist, James Thacker, has gone from referring to himself as Dr. James Thacker in his journal entries to Captain James Thacker. Despite all that has happened, Thacker is still treating this expedition as some kind of childhood nature-hike and has gone so far off the edge that he actually sees himself as the one who is keeping this trek together. His attempts at overpowering Captain Jasper make for some interesting panels, but I would like to see what Jasper does to him on the next attempt, now that they will no longer be heading back to the ship.
We find out what has happened to Louis in these months between his departure from England and his discovery. It is this story that not only not only brings you into this world, but has the reader flipping back through past issues to find connections between what is going on in the present and how it could relate to this past. In this tale, we learn the true first appearance of the "hybrids", we learn that the word which Gus' father used to mutter to himself at night in fear — Tekkeitsertok — is a god in Inuit mythology of hunting who owns all the deer and is the protector of creatures that enter the Northern sky and we learn that the plague was around prior to Gus' birth. I won't say will try not to give too much away from the story, but Lemire has got his readers rushing to their local comic shops and making sure that they will have enough of issue #28 to go around.
Matt Kindt's art on this book is still a joy to gaze upon! His watercolors are some of the most beautiful colors I have seen on any book in a very long time and they make every panel of this arc something that I would like to see more of. Kindt also being a talented writer, as well, I have no clue why he is not carrying his own ongoing series on Vertigo or Image right now. I love Lemire's art — especially on this series — but if he were to stick to just writing this series, I would get over my sadness if Kindt was made the new regular artist. That doesn't mean I want it to happen. But if so, I would still love this title. Lemire has three titles out right now — the other two being Animal Man and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. for DC — and he manages to get some of the least conventional, but best artists that the medium has to offer. He is either terribly good judge of the artform or brilliantly fortunate. Either way, kudos to Matt Kindt for making sure this comic not only doesn't lose a step as he comes on, but flourishes.
But with this issue, like many a well-done episodic mystery does, comes more questions. Did Gus' "father" begin his research from the discovery of James Thacker's journal? Is Gus a clone of the bones of Tekkietsertok, or even Louis' newborn son? Is Gus a god? I'm sure the latter may not be a "yes", but the other questions will definitely be bringing me back for issue #28. If you have not been reading this series, but love Lemire's work on his many recent DC outings and his Essex County graphic novel, do yourself a favor and pick up Sweet Tooth. Even in trades. It is too good for you to not be reading.