Impressions of Jeff Lemire’s Trillium #4

(Attempts at spoilers abound!)

This past weekend I spent a good chunk of time trying to win Trillium #1-3 in several different Ebay auctions after losing out on a sweet deal of all three for five bucks the weekend prior. Suffice it to say, of the three auctions I entered I was outbid each time and therefore had to go into three without knowledge of the first three issues cause God forbid I spoil them with a Google search.

When I went to Matt’s Cavalcade today, the shelf was empty of any copies of the 4th issue. Being a cool dude though, I had email Matt to subscribe to the comic and he had my issue waiting for me behind the counter with a sweet thirty cents discount added (that shit adds up). I had also wanted to pick up the debut issue of Kelly Sue Donnick’s Image title Pretty Deadly, but Matt hadn’t gotten those in and now a bid of three bucks is hoping to snag me a copy online.

The only prior knowledge I’ve had of Trillium is that it’s a sci-fi love story involving time travel and the watercolor covers of the early issues drawn by Lemire were fantastic to behold. I have only ever read Lemire’s first volume of Animal Man, but the people over at IGN seem to love most anything he does so I figured it was worth the risk, and it was…sort of.

Jeff Lemire’s Trillium #4

See, I had bought #4 with the hope that there’d be some recap page at the top to get me up to speed, but no go on that one. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have hoped for that at all though given that it’s only an eight-issue series and most of its readers are probably not dummies like me who sat on their thumbs and assumed the local comic shop would have ten-plus copies of each issue waiting for me, but I guess it’s a good sign that a copy of early issues are hard to come by.

Thanks to a shiny English degree lost somewhere in my mom’s house, I was able to sort out all the characters after two readings. There’s the future woman Nika, newly bald due to something that happened in the earlier issues, her brutal commander Essie, WWI [possibly II] soldier William, his brother Clayton, and a bunch of blue aliens that are somehow connected to the temples that transport inhabitants between 20th century Earth and Nika’s homeworld Atabithi.

This issue starts out with Nika and William (perhaps recently?) joined together and heading into one of the temples as they escape fire from an inbound vessel. Once inside, they are shut off and transported to Earth where they are led by said blue aliens to a group of tribesmen who poor William calls savages before being shut down by Nika. There they then go into a shrine that Nika believes is a prophecy about Earth, Atabithi, the temples and a black hole.

Meanwhile, Clayton is getting the shit beat out of him by Essie and her underlings as they figure he has something to do with Nika’s disappearance or with the trillium flowers they’re harvesting from Atabithi’s temple. Only late in the issue are they able to translate Clayton’s language [20th century English], but he knows too little so they leave the temple and Essie decided the blow the whole thing up just cuz, despite her advisor’s warning. We’re left uncertain as to what the repercussions of the blast ultimately are, but things going boom rarely leave you with much hope for happy endings. Somewhere between all that Clayton and Nika momentarily switch places in time and space and it freaks them both out.

I’m pretty impressed I was able to get all that. Lemire definitely gives the impression that within his love story, he’s also working on something with apocalyptic repercussions since like it’s cousin the bomb, black holes are rarely portends of happiness. Lemire’s writing is pretty unkind to new readers and it was left to me to figure out who was what to whom, but as I said before, only a dummy like me would get in on what is obviously a fantastic story so late in the game. I’d be remiss if I ended things without mentioning how much of a fan I am of Lemire’s watercolor interiors. Normally any comic with a sci-fi tinge tries so hard to make everything look sleek that most of those comics tend to blend together to me. Lemire’s loose sketchy style though gives the impression that the sci-fi world in his comic is the norm though and he focuses details in the right places, giving keen attention to people’s facial expression and hand gestures. Near the end of the issue, Nika and William share a hug before the blast and the image was enough to make me hope that these crazy folks somehow make it out of this unblackholed.

Read if you want some sci-fi in your life without all the “grittiness” and Ironman gadgetry. Better to read if you can track down the first three issues or read a synopsis of those online.

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