Quick — what do you get when you cross Juno with The Omen?
I can’t say I know for sure, but the answer could be the new Aftershock Comics series Babyteeth, the latest from the suddenly-quite-busy Donny Cates, cooked up in collaboration with Black Road artist/co-creator Garry Brown, which seems right off the bat to be a mash-up of those two popular films, but who knows? It could prove to be something else entirely as events proceed.
Here’s the run-down : 16-year-old Sadie of Salt Lake City, Utah, is more than just a nerdy social outcast comic book fan — she’s also pregnant. The old man — whoever he may be — isn’t around. She’s managed to keep her condition a secret from everyone barring her dope-dealing sister, Heather, but when her first contraction register a 5.0 on the fucking Richter Scale, well — this isn’t a situation that’s going to remain under wraps for long. And that’s about all we know, apart from the fact that the moment Sadie delivered her baby boy, Clark (named after you-know-who), she thinks she very well may have died. Oh, and for some reason she’s in Palestine now. We’ll see what that’s all about.
Cates takes a more light-hearted and comedic tone with his script than you might expect given its potentially-heavy subject matter, and stylistically this falls somewhere between the absolute play-it-for-laughs tone of his recently-concluded The Paybacks and the more cut-and-dried storytelling of his soon-to-be-wrapped God Country, and on the whole it works. Sadie’s first-person narration is effective in terms of its blunt honesty, and feels pretty well authentic to what a confused pregnant teenager would probably be thinking or feeling. The dialogue draws its characters in fairly broad, one-dimensional strokes, but what the hell? It’s a first issue, and some of these folks’ personalities and motivations are certain to have layers of depth added to them in, I would guess, pretty short order. I certainly can’t quibble with this book’s rapid-fire pacing, that’s for sure, but it’s also nice that things logically hold together here even though the story doesn’t slow down to the point where you really have a chance to examine it in much detail — at least the first time out, at any rate.
Brown, for his part, definitely delivers the goods as far as the art goes — his style is more defined and less “sketchy” than what we saw on Black Road, with a tighter, finer line and greater detail in the characters’ faces and body language, but it’s still fairly ink-heavy and abstract when it needs to be, so if you like what you’ve seen from him before — and I most certainly have — you’re more or less guaranteed to be impressed by the evolution of his overall “look” here. Top it off with some solid, workmanlike colors by Mark Englert, and what you’ve got in your hands is a pretty damn good-looking comic book.
All told, then, I’d have to say that I was reasonably impressed by Babyteeth #1. It didn’t blow me away or anything, but I felt like I got my money’s worth for my $3.99 (which I forked over out of pocket) and it set things up with enough style and panache to hook me for, at the very least, the short term. I’m not going to give it the longest leash in the world, but I have a reasonable amount of confidence that these quite good creators aren’t going to strangle themselves with their own collective umbilical cord.
Story: Donny Cates Art: Garry Brown
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy