Review: BABYTEETH #1

Written by Donny Cates
Art by Gary Brown, Mark Englert, and Taylor Esposito
Published by Aftershock Comics
Release Date: June 7, 2017

What could be more innocent and pure than a young mother giving birth to her first child? Certainly not the birth of the Anti-Christ, or so you would think. In Aftershock Comics’ new series Babyteeth by Donny Cates, we are presented with just this scenario. While some of it plays out like you might think it would, the reader will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of humanity in this story.

Donny Cates is brilliant. A few weeks ago he introduced us to Red Neck vampires who don’t want to be vampires. Now in Babyteeth he along with Gary Brown have made the birth of the Anti-Christ, the ultimate evil villain, a very human and loving event. Even though there are ominous signs around the birth it is still just a girl having a baby. The book moves at a very fast pace, like the shortening of time between contractions, before the story is over and done with all too soon.

It is full of moments, though, that stand out in the reader’s mind and draw them back in to reread it. The heart of the story is a first-time mom who loves her son no matter what he may grow up to be. This is where the heart of the comic book is as well because Cates is able to successfully humanize the main characters so well. The reader will immediately care for Sadie, who has sweet innocent dialogue and who’s character could be borderline Marian. Heather, her tough sister, is also immediately likable as is the girls dad even though there are only a few short pages involving them.

It is Sadie’s innocence, though, that provides an important counter weight to the heaviness of the foreboding evil. Without it this would just be another birth of the Anti-Christ story. We see the results of this in the bookending of the issue with a look at Sadie as a more mature young lady. No longer see the innocent child, she apparently is aware of what he is to become but we still see the love she has for him in Cates’ dialogue. The heavy strokes and darkness of the Brown’s artwork very appropriately closes in around her foreshadowing the danger to come.

Gary Brown’s style adds so much to the story. Its ruggedness around the edges sets a mood of danger and frenetic anxiety. It communicates to the reader that something dreadful is coming and paired with the heavy bold lines of charcoal helps to set the oppressive mood of the events of the story. As previously mentioned there a couple of scenes that bookend the issue with charcoal shading that drape and smother the area around Sadie.

There are also a couple of moments when the of the intensity of the shading overtake the scene and Sadie. Just as Cates and Brown’s story was able to convince the reader of Sadie’s innocence, the artwork as well tends to tone down when dealing with her features. She is drawn with a soft face full of love and caring for her son. Heather and most of the other characters are drawn with sharp edges that are not friendly at all. The panels tend to be wide and cinematic but the borders are drawn very ruggedly with a free hand quality to them.

Adding to the jarring feeling that is being built up in the reader’s minds is the use of big and bold sound words. They jump out of the panel at you interrupting the flow of your eyes across the panels with a startling smack.

Finally, the use of colors to connotate a severe moment is nicely done. Reds soak the panel while well placed patches of intense greens are used to highlight severe moments of pain and shock. The coloring of the baby is also a sickly pale green that communicates a unhealthiness that is in stark contrast to the cute plump features of the baby. The eyes, though, are what really seal the deal though as the reader is sucked into the blackness of them.

Overall Babyteeth is a surprisingly unique take on an end of times trope intensely illustrated with frenetic artwork. The fact that the story has so much heart to it hooks the reader and will bring them back for the next issue.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

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