Sweet Tooth is arguably the series that catapulted Jeff Lemire into the DC Comics stardom. Though Lemire has worked on other comics, it could be said that Sweet Tooth was the moment when people realized Lemire could make something truly special. It started with a boy with antlers, suddenly alone in the world, and the big, scary man who became his protector. What follows is not only a story of humans and humanity, but persecution, difference, sadness, and ultimately hope. The series ended today in a forty-page masterpiece that simultaneously told us of the future and summed up the past.
Lemire’s art and story come together in this final issue perhaps better than they have ever before. Though most of the story takes place at least a dozen years after the previous issue, there are still grim constants in the world of Sweet Tooth. Where once Jepperd protected the little antlered boy, Gus now protects his own antlered children. To his own children, Gus became the “Big Man” that Jepperd was so affectionately referred to. Gus no longer hides or runs from the humans as they get weaker and fewer, but instead protects his hybrid community. Gus isn’t the only one changed though. Bobby is no longer the helpless victim that he often was; he is now a grown man who protects his own adopted family. Buddy, Jepperd’s true son, is a hot-headed warrior instead of a silent prisoner.
Even with all this violence, the hybrids learn to live in a different way than the humans. They learn to live with the land and to ultimately accept their enemies. The hybrids don’t hunt the humans to extinction; instead, they choose to ease the suffering of their past enemies and help them as the humans slowly die. Singh, the man who previously most feared death, has come to love his life devoted to teaching. Singh becomes the happiest of all the humans in his life devoted to helping the hybrids.
This final issue was such a wonderful way to end it. It gave a perfect resolution while still looking back on the horror and hope of the entire series. Lemire was at top form for this issue and cemented the series as one of the best in recent memory.
Sweet Tooth is a story. A story of remembrance, compassion, hatred, fear, and family. It’s a story about home, love, war, hope, and despair. It’s a story of a man who thought himself a prophet, the story a child who grew up in captivity, the story of the last gasp of a dying species, the story of two brothers, and the story of all the generations to come. The story all began with the antlered boy and the big man that vowed to protect him no matter what. A story where the little boy taught the big man that there might still be some good in the world. It’s a story I’ll sorely miss and have enjoyed more than can be imagined.