Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Donny Cates
Artwork: Garry Brown, Mark Englert (colours), Taylor Esposito (lettering)
Release Date: 7th June 2017
Having a baby is a scary enough prospect, let alone having one as a teenager with the baby’s father nowhere to be seen. But what if, on top of all that, your child turned out to be the actual antichrist? Well, that’s starting to look like a genuine possibility for sixteen year-old Sadie Ritter in Babyteeth, a brand new Aftershock Comics series from Donny Cates and Garry Brown.
The story is framed as Sadie recording a video message for her progeny, recounting the tumultuous and traumatic circumstances surrounding his arrival into the world. It’s a perfectly chosen approach by Cates, providing us with Sadie’s own firsthand experience of events as they dramatically unfold, from the first ground-shaking contraction to the troubling, almost otherworldly moments of the birth itself.
Cates keeps the supporting cast intentionally sparse here, keeping the focus fixed squarely on his leading lady throughout. He also doesn’t dwell too heavily on the supernatural portion of the story, letting the terror and uncertainty of an unexpected teenage birth carry the weight of the emotional drama here, and only drawing back the curtain to hint at the real story in the final few pages.
Scottish artist Garry Brown also does a lot of the heavy lifting in this first issue with his distinctive, heavily inked style. He does an impressive job of portraying the rollercoaster of emotions that Sadie experiences, from oblivious innocence to fear and confusion, and ultimately to elation and joy. Brown’s work here drags us right alongside Sadie throughout her ordeal, and the colours of Mark Englert help to underscore the urgency of the frantic dash to the hospital, punctuating his otherwise restrained palette with bursts or orange and red as the contractions wreak havoc.
Rather than tipping his hand too early, Cates keeps a lot of things clutched firmly to his chest here, focusing on character and drama rather than simply laying out his entire story in one giant unwieldy chunk. It’s an approach he has also adopted recently on the likes of God Country and Redneck, showcasing his growing maturity as a writer and making this story even more intriguing as a result.
With Brown and Englert already working in perfect synergy on the visual side of the book, it’s going to be genuinely riveting to watch the supernatural aspect of this story unfold. And with a compelling protagonist and an enigmatic, powerfully executed opening issue that leaves you wanting to know more, Babyteeth is looking like yet another winner from the folks at Aftershock Comics. It also provides about as emphatic a message about the importance of birth control as you could possibly imagine. Highly recommended.
Oh, and in case you missed the memo, 2017 is now officially Donny Cates’ year, folks. Get used to it.
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