"Babyteeth #5" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by AfterShock Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Garry Brown
Colored by Mark Englert
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 11th, 2017
When we last left young Sadie, she was running for her life, clutching her infant son Clark in her arms as a young assassin had broken into her home to murder them. Her ex-marine father stayed back to buy her some time. Meanwhile, her sister, Heather had gotten into some trouble while trying to track down Clark's father to get some of his blood. Oh yeah, I probably should have mentioned that Clark is the Antichrist and he drinks blood instead of milk. That about catches us up on Babyteeth.
One of the things that has made Babyteeth such a fantastic read is the clever use of flashbacks. The entire comic is basically one big flashback, as Sadie is narrating it from a dystopian future. This time around, we get a look back at Sadie's childhood, growing up with Heather, and how her mother basically checked out. It's a heartwarming scene that opens the issue and serves as an instant juxtaposition to the crazy life that Clark has led in his first few days of existence. I mean, the blood thing would have been enough on its own, but the assassin takes it to new levels of insanity.
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Writer Donny Cates provides some incredible narration from Sadie as she runs in fear from her childhood home. She expresses regret and sadness about how Clark will never have a childhood like she did. This implies that the hectic life the child has led to date is not going to slow down anytime soon, spelling a foreboding future for the boy.
This foreshadowing continues throughout the issue, dropping some pretty awesome bread crumbs along the way. It reminds me a bit of Saga in this regard, where an offhand comment made in conversation carries such weight and implies so much in store for the reader. We're reminded of Sadie's present and the darkness that surrounds her. We don't know how she got into that situation, but Cates puts forth just enough information to pull you in and have you dying to know more.
Garry Brown draws his ass off in Babyteeth. Every panel is packed with emotion and tension, especially those in Sadie's home. They begin with a showdown between her father and the assassin known as Prairie Wolf. Neither side is willing to back down for very different reasons, creating a nail-biting sequence as they beat the crap out of each other and end up in a Mexican standoff.
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I don't know if Brown put in the sound effects or if letterer Taylor Esposito did. They become part of the artwork itself, like another character on the page. You can feel the RATATTA of machine gun fire or the BOOM of a hard kick to the stomach. They often replace the entire background of a panel, giving the sound effect a lot more weight and emphasis.
Shadow is used so well in this issue. The whole thing takes place at night and it looms over the characters like a dark cloud. Colorist Mark Englert sets the mood of the entire comic with cool blues and greys. This makes the more exciting moments pop off the page as they're more brightly colored. I also love how the darkness surrounds the characters, like they have a small aura of light around their body.
This is the end of the first arc of Babyteeth. It will be the final chapter in the first trade paperback. If this is where the comic is starting, I cannot wait to see where it goes next. The creators have set up a compelling, unique story that grabs you from the jump with such a brilliant premise. What if a teenage girl gave birth to the Antichrist? We know that all that follows is bad news, but we don't know how we get there. That journey is full of possibilities and it's what is making Babyteeth one of the best comics of the year.