Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Jeff Lemire, José Villarrubia
Published by Vertigo Comics
Release Date: December 4, 2013
Jeff Lemire’s Trillium from Vertigo has openly described itself as a science fiction and romance story. The main characters William and Nika are the inevitable star-crossed lovers that transcend space and time. William is from a far, distant past on Earth while Nika is from a far, distant future in space. The two meet under different forms of duress, William is in search of ancient artifacts in a unexplored jungle and Nika is searching for diplomacy with an alien race to save humanity with the Trillium flower. What brings them together is a temple that allows the two from vastly different worlds to meet.
From the opening pages, in what can now be recognized as a defining characteristic of the reading experience of Trilliium, is that we are going to be flipping and rotating this issue to understand the story. The caption in the first panel serves as a foreward instruction for how the comic should be read: “NOTE: Please Read Upper Section Of Report First.” Lemire has toyed with different reading methods in the first issue of Trillium by creating a bisected and inverted issue where two stories inevitably met in the middle. For this issue, Lemire challenges traditional comic reading methods again by making the reader read only the top half of every page and then flipping the comic upside down at the end in order to read what you missed on the bottom. Digital readers beware!
While the gutters provide ample space to keep the intended reading experience to remain consistent, curiosity is difficult to restrain when you are viewing these pages as your eyes cannot help but glance at the upside down panels displayed below. Lemire intentionally mirrors opposing panels to create the ever-present dichotomy that exists between Nika and William as they reverse roles in this issue. Nika is no longer in the comforts of her futuristic space colony, and William is no longer amongst the comforts of his antiquated colonialism. Duality and displaying the similarities between polar opposites are Lemire’s indulgence for this issue.
Consequently, it takes precedence over developing the romance in this science-fiction story; and priority over developing the science-fiction in this romance story. One can applaud Lemire’s effort to create a fun experience to reading comics, but ostensibly we still aren’t offered much to proport the story as we are presented with an issue that seems like a twisted hallucination or dream sequence inside the other character’s mind. While the Trillium flower has created a sort of shared consciousness with Nika and William that we’ve seen in prior issues, it also has unknown “magical” effects which allow Lemire to take liberties that aren’t exactly common in romance or science fiction genres.
The psychedelic surreality that is the premise of Trillium makes Lemire’s art that much more of an encompassing experience because his art is synonymous with the intention. His lines and style are assuredly an acquired taste, but unabashedly his own and easily recognizable. What separates this series from previous works is the breadth of color pallette by Lemire and José Villarrubia. There is a distinct sharpness of color and bolder tones features in the top half that features Nika, and a softer, sublime pallette with the bottom half. These color tones have become inherent to the respective characters and not necessarily their environment or landscape. This is even more indicative of the diametric Lemire is interested in presenting for this issue.
It’s obvious that we have still only touched the surface of the potential of the series. Jeff Lemire is clearly trying to break the molds of the science-fiction and romance genres with his auteur storytelling and visuals. Trillium may not be an easy pill to swallow for all comic book readers, but it undeniably unique and confidently beats to the rhythm of its own beautiful drum.
The Verdict: 7.5/10