Out of the Woods is the first story arc in Sweet Tooth, a Vertigo comic by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarubia.
The first thing to grab me was just how beautiful this book is. Both Lemire’s art and Jose Villarubia’s muted colour palette set the tone for this bleak, post-apocalyptic tale.
The first story arc is called Out of the Woods and it introduces us to Gus, a hybrid child with antlers. We find out that his mother has died and his dad is keeping him in a cabin in the woods away from the rest of the world. Because of what his father has told him, Gus believes the outside world to be dangerous.
Having spent his entire existence in seclusion, Gus’ life is suddenly thrown into turmoil when his father dies. The boy knows nothing of the world and now has to survive in it.
We find out very quickly that Gus’ antlers means he’s a hybrid. This makes him valuable to other people. Although, it’s not clear why. It creates wonderful intrigue as it makes the reader question every person’s motives that he comes into contact with.
When Gus is approached by poachers, Jeppard, a haggard Clint Eastwood kind of character, rescues him. With the promise of being taken to a safe place, Gus goes with Jeppard.
Seeing the world through Gus’ eyes gives the reader a naive view on things. You can see that the other characters have motives, but you can’t understand them because Gus doesn’t.
It’s wonderful storytelling.
The set up of this book reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. We have a man and a boy trying to exist in a savage world where there are no rules. The biggest threat are the other survivors.
I’ve always been impressed with Lemire’s story telling skills and Sweet Tooth is my favourite so far. The tale moves at quite a clip and the naivety of Gus broke my heart. He’s such a pure soul in a broken and violent world.
I will definitely be reading more of this story.
5 out of 5 stars!