Impression of Jeff Lemire’s Trillium #5

(Spoiler alert: This tale be a sci-fi mystery!)

When I wrote about the last issue of Trillium, I mentioned or went on and on about the fact that I had not read the first three issues in the series and felt that it was difficult to jump into the story so late in the game. After reading the latest issue, I think that’s supposed to be part of the fun. While the last issue featured a bunch of stuff happening that all culminated in one of comic’s favorite moves in recent memory- a fade to white following a cataclysmic explosion, this issue slows the narrative way way down despite the fact that it starts in an entirely new place than the former.

            Following said explosion of a temple that is probably of alien origin, it seems that our protagonists, Nika and William along with their individual supporting characters have all switched roles in the timestream without memory of their real lives. The issue starts with Nika waking up in a posh 20th century London room, being cared for by her sister following her military retinue’s expedition to the Blue Area in Peru and acquiring some trauma. It seems that Nika somehow still recalls her original life as a soldier from the future, but struggles all issue to clarify that and her emerging relationship with William with certainty. Meanwhile, a newly bald William finds himself in a healing chamber in the future also following the explosion at the temple with Nika’s, and now his, sentient suit unable to recall to him the details of the explosion. Much like Nika, William feels the strangeness of his new role and struggles to recall the events of the explosion until an encounter with a familiar face jumpstarts his search for the truth hidden in his suit. And really, beyond the final page(s) reveal(s) that is it for the story.

However, this issue serves as a premiere showcase for Lemire’s talents as a visual storyteller. On opening the comic, I found myself looking at a single page with two panels, one of them vertically inverted. At first I read both panels in one go, the top featuring Nika and the bottom William thinking this was some strange thing that Canadians sometimes do when making comics. Then I read the large text that states “Please Read Upper Section of Report First” and, being a big fan of rules, did as I was told. This led to a reading of solely Nika’s tale while my comic brain kept drifting to the bottom panel, impatiently trying to get a peek at what William was up to down there. At the end of Nika’s portion, I flicked the comic to start William’s and read through it as well while my mind unconsciously began noticing the symmetrical page layouts occurring between Nika and William’s narratives. This led to a second reading of the issue, which I did with the intention of finding the parallels between their stories.

What it revealed to me is just how intent Lemire is on telling this story of (prepare those chorus swells) eternal love with Nika and William’s search for their past lives culminating in remembering each other. This strikes as a pretty bold move on Lemire’s part since given how epic the scope of his narrative is (worlds-ending to put it succinctly), the typical move would be to tell the most epic epic. Lemire though, he’s one of em good writers who recognizes how much more effective an epic is when it focuses on the very personal. Whereas last issue ended with me liking the story Lemire was telling, this ends with me beginning to fall in love with the love of his characters.

 

Read this book if you need more love in your sci-fi. Read this book if you like awesome watercolor drawings. Do not read this book if you have vertigo.

 

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