Creator Jeff Lemire and colorist Jose Villarrubia return with the second-to-last chapter of their sequel mini-series in Sweet Tooth: The Return: #5. This issue uncovers the endgame plan of our scum of a villain while also setting the path and emotional stakes for the main cast, making us root and fear for them in equal distressing amounts. With poignant writing and once again charmingly perfect visuals, this issue may be the best in this excellent mini-series thus far.
“The clock is tick-tick-ticking down. Soon all the nasty hybrid beasts that roam the Earth will get sick and die. And it’s all thanks to our beloved Father and his incredible science virus! He’s doing it for all of you because Father loves you very much, and soon you and all his other very good, special friends will get to walk upon the desiccated corpses of the villainous creatures that took our home from us! What a joyous time that will be! What’s that? Oh my! It’s almost time! Let’s pack our bags, brush our teeth, and remember to never lie to Father! Because lying is what a hybrid would do, and you’re much better than one of them, right?”
Writing & Plot
Lemire’s writing here in Sweet Tooth: the Return #5 offers more of his trademark “less is more” dialogue style combined with his ability to deliver exposition in a way that is still entertaining. This issue focuses on sharpening each character’s motivations and raising the stakes for everyone involved, both hero and villain, before setting off on the series finale. As usual, the best parts of this book are the moments of quiet introspection and one-on-one character conversation between “The Boy” and other characters. This time around, it’s him and our favorite elephant hybrid Earl. There’s something so endlessly charming about how Lemire presents The Boy/Gus’s dialogue, and therefore much of his personality, that every time he’s speaking on the panel I can’t help but love the character. His ever-present optimism and caring for others never comes across as corny or naïve, but rather the exact thing both the other characters and we as readers need to hear. Lemire has always had a perfect ear for naturalistic dialogue and matching dialogue styles differently among a wide range of characters. Even the villainous Father’s monologue about his evil master plan doesn’t bog down the story. There are no wasted words or narration, as every exchange in this comic has weight and is a pleasure to read.
Lemire’s signature art style once again graces the pages of Sweet Tooth: The Return #5, and once again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The emotion that he can draw into every character despite his simplistic and rough-hewn visual style will never cease to amaze me. His panel direction is often contemplative and thoughtfully paced, in a manner that can only be achieved by someone matching their art to their own words. Hell, if I didn’t love Dean Ormston so much I’d say that Lemire should be the one drawing Black Hammer as well as writing it (he could do it too). The charming detail of Lemire’s pencils is filled with color by Jose Villarrubia, who has brilliantly offered his work in this world ever since the original comic. His watercolor-esque tones give every surface a variety of shades, and his work gets really interesting when reality and the world of dreams and visions get blurred. This is a visually perfect comic for the story, with an eclectic style that probably isn’t for everyone but has an endless amount of charm for those who can appreciate it.
Sweet Tooth: The Return #5 is a climactic chapter that sets up this story’s end by endearing us to the main cast even more than we thought possible just before this story reaches its final issue. Lemire’s signature style of storytelling gives us a comic laden with information that manages to be entertaining to read and is dotted by truly heartfelt character moments and a brutal cliffhanger. His ever-charming visuals, with the help of colorist Jose Villarrubia, set the perfect storytelling tone and style for this book and are absolutely perfect for what is being told here. Be sure to grab this second-to-last issue of this excellent mini-series on March 9!