(Spoiler Alert: A pretty comic does not always make for a compelling comic. Also, nausea!)
(Disclaimer: No new issues were available at Matt’s this week on account of the snow halting this week’s releases from leaving Portland. Along with last week’s Trillium, I picked up a 2nd printing of Sex Criminals #1, which I believe is easily the funniest and most fun of the issues to be released so far.)
When I first decided to read Jeff Lemire’s Trillium, following my enjoyment of his soon-ending Animal Man run, I thought that even though the story was entirely different (Trillium being a sci-fi romance pitched as the ‘last love story while Animal Man is a family drama with superhero and horror elements), that Lemire would bring the same great pacing to this Vertigo series, and I believe in the earlier issues it did somewhat succeed in this. However, reading this issue was less of a pleasure and more of a chore. I remained interested in what was going to happen to Nika and William and how and when they would be reunited. Despite my interest, the story contained within this issue does little more than act as a transition to get the characters in the same geographical space for their reunion.
In the opening pages, we learn the sad fate of Nika’s mother, and why her blossoming relationship with William proves such a source of comfort. After that though what mostly happens is that the two temporally-displaced characters sit around narrating about their predicament to a journal and A.I. respectively, restating information we’ve heard before (Nika and William want to get back together, they need to sneak past those who care about them, and are concerned thanks to their recovered knowledge of their real lives). Lemire doesn’t need to do any of this though because we’ve already recognized their motivation for why they would want to return to one another in the previous issue. Near the end of humanity, William’s brother is preparing his team for cryo-sleep prior to a long journey while in the altered 20th century, Nika is led out of an asylum by her military superior to rejoin their ranks in Peru, which conveniently provides Nika the opportunity to return to the temple whose destruction led to her separation from William. Part of me feels though that all of that could’ve either happened with much more intrigue or just skipped over entirely, and we could have gotten to the temple ruins within the first few pages before getting us to the real interesting bits of the story, which seem entirely reserved for the following issue.
Lemire’s art remains stellar as ever, and it’s always a pleasure to look at his work in comparison to many of the generic contemporary styles used by the Big Two (the hyper-detailed, glossly thing). On a final note, this comic continues to require readers to flip the comic every few pages to switch from Nika to William’s story. While it proved an interesting conceit in previous issues here it feels entirely unnecessary, and although I commend Lemire for playing around with the formatting, I think such a technique works best perhaps when used sparingly. Here’s hoping that next issue Nika and William’s worlds meet, and I won’t have to work anymore to keep down my ramen dinner.