Graphic novel: Sweet Tooth: The Return a delicious epilogue to the triumphant main course
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The six issues Sweet Tooth: The Return wrapped up last month and will hit comic book stores as a paperback in August. Great timing, considering the Netflix series based on the original comic is set to debut next week.
I have fond memories of the first Sweet Tooth series, which ran for 40 issues starting in 2009. It was one of the few comics that made me cry, so I approached Sweet Tooth: The Return. With caution: How much could Woodslee’s Jeff Lemire accomplish in a half-dozen-number miniseries?
I didn’t need to worry. By the fourth number, tears were falling again.
Sweet Tooth told the story of Gus, a boy-deer hybrid who has adventures with a former professional hockey player while seeking his origins in a post-apocalyptic America devastated by a strange plague.
The series is standalone and nearly perfect, so hearing that there was a sequel this spring made me nervous. I didn’t need to be.
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Sweet Tooth: The Return serves as an epilogue to this story. It takes place 300 years later in an underground community. Another boy with antlers who appears to be the same Gus is punished when he tries to escape from the top, finding other human-animal hybrids along the way.
You don’t need to read The Return to understand the original better. He’s still alone. The Return is perhaps the comedic equivalent of Led Zeppelin Coda’s interesting album, and it won’t diminish the reputation of what came before it.
Sweet Tooth was released as part of DC’s Vertigo line, which no longer exists. The Return is an offer from DC’s Black Label, and is recommended for readers over the age of 17.
The beauty of the first series is that it had a defined start, middle, and end. So many comics run out of gas after an initial burst of creativity, but continue for years, if not decades. Lemire knew the story he wanted to tell and got out at the right time.
Sweet Tooth: The Return doesn’t diminish this feat in any way and adds a bit of flavor to it, like a pleasant dessert after a triumphant main course.