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August 10, 2013

Vertigo Review: Trillium #1

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Written by: Jeff Lake
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imageTrillium #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Vertigo

In comics (and in life), time management is essential. Top creators – the Johns, Bendises, and Snyders of the world – often script many different books at a time, an impressive feat that requires no small amount of juggling. This ability to dive in and out of different narratives is a true showcase of ability and is a testament to the craft itself. But to write AND draw a new series, in addition to your already established titles? Well, that’s just showing off.

Jeff Lemire proves no mere mortal as his long awaited Trillium hits the stands, his fascinating debut well worth the wait. Billed as a love story (the LAST love story, to be specific), Trillium is the story of two souls, each beset with their own demons, and how their paths intersect. The wrinkle – one is a scientist from the year 3797, the other a soldier in 1921. For Dr. Nika Temsmith, the future is bleak. One of only four thousand remaining humans due to The Caul, an ever evolving super virus, Temsmith is tasked with finding the final component needed to create a humanity saving vaccine. Her search leads her to the planet of Atibathi, where the natives fervently protect the flowers that grow behind their walls. For William Pike, life is hard. Haunted by memories of war, the former soldier navigates the jungles of Peru in his obsessive search for the Lost Temple of the Incas. The fabled walls are said to hold something greater than any treasure – a plant said to provide health, happiness, and a dominance over death.

Told in two disparate chapters that can be read in any order, Trillium is a prime example of what happens when a good creator is allowed to let loose. Already this feels like something special, as Lemire has concocted a narrative that is wildly imaginative and rather investing. It’s hard not discussing the story in further detail in this review, but this is the kind of book that should be explored with fresh eyes. Much like Lemire’s work in creator owned books such as Sweet Tooth or the Underwater Welder, Trillium is NEW. I’m not emphasizing that to undermine the work he’s done for DC, but much like those other titles, this one resonates long after you’ve put it down. It’s wordy, but concisely so, nary a phrase nor grunt wasted. I do feel that Nika gets the majority of the narrative, but that could be because I read her chapter first. However you slice it, Trillium‘s writing is superb.

If you’re familiar with Lemire’s art, his style is just as divisive as ever. I’ve often said the creator has a “love it or hate it” style, but I’m realizing now that’s not quite true. While his rough, slightly abstract art isn’t necessarily my taste, the beauty of it is nonetheless evident on every page. I know that comes off as a compliminsult, but it’s just so gorgeously ugly! His characters will never win any sort of beauty pageant, but I think that’s the point; these are REAL people, not genetically enviable super models. The worlds they live in are equally enticing, as his two chapters are rendered in completely different ways. The work he does with his colors is amazing; his painterly style is just so vivid and evocative, particularly striking in a digital format. Well done, Lemire, you’ve made a fan of me yet.

At this point, what’s left to say? You should be reading Trillium, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not. Very few debuts can match the scope of this first issue, and while it’s too early to declare the series a runaway winner, it’s certainly off to an impressive start.

Jeff Lake

jefflake@comicattack.net

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