Wow. That was… insane. Jeff Lemire certainly isn’t holding anyone’s hand in this unique Vertigo series. For a book that only lasted for 8 issues, a whole lot happens, a whole lot of insane ideas get laid out, and I got a whole lot confused.
First of all, a warning: if you are going to read this book, please make sure to read the helpful narration boxes at the opening of each issue. There are a few instances where I breezed over the caption and missed very helpful guidance. Like, for example, how to read the comic book I was holding. That led to me having a much more challenging time than Lemire intended.
OK, the quick summary of what happens in this: Nika is a far-future human colonist seeking a rare flower capable of curing a sentient virus called the Caul. Nika is negotiating with aliens when the book opens, trying to gain access to a vast field of Trillium on their lands. William is an English soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as he accompanies his brother through 1920’s South America. And these two characters’ paths intersect!
I won’t ruin the how, and I can’t really ruin the why. I’m not sure what the overall “point” of this story is, exactly. But that doesn’t stop Lemire from delivering some rousing action and heartfelt moments that really make this book entertaining. There are only four characters that have any real relevance to the plot, along with a sentient A.I., yet by the close of the series, I feel like the points of view necessary for the story all worked well when viewed through those eyes.
I’m not huge devotee of Lemire like some, so while I found the story engaging enough, I didn’t love the art. It is fine, and the storytelling is perfectly clear. But Lemire’s indie style doesn’t mesh perfectly with my obvious super-hero tastes. Again, the art is perfectly capable of setting the scene and telling the story. But no one looks pretty. Since I mention it so often, I’m going to commend Lemire on his backgrounds. Each location is instantly established by a rich, detailed background that really helps ground the scene. With a story that confuses time, place, and identity so much, the surroundings are essential to establish a clear narrative. Lemire realizes this and lays out the story clearly for his readers.
This isn’t my normal type of comic, but dang, I do enjoy reading GOOD, mind-bending sci-fi. This is the type of thing that would make a kick butt movie, too.