A lot is revealed in this issue of “Babyteeth,” but when it comes to the motivations of Sadie’s parents, actions speak louder than words. Read on for our review of “Babyteeth” #8, which does contain spoilers
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Garry Brown
Colored by Mark Englert
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
‘Hey, friends, Donny Cates here. So here’s the thing about this issue: if I were to write even a single true sentence about what happens in this one, it would spoil the whole thing. So instead of attempting some kind of vague ‘This issue changes everything!!, I’ll just say that this issue is insane. Lots of reveals, lots of uncovered truths about the family and the cult and the assassin and the raccoon monster and the mom and the OTHER mom and…yeah, see? It’s gonna get weird. Thanks, we’ll see you on the stands!’ From Donny Cates, the writer of Buzzkill, Paybacks, Redneck and the breakout hit God Country, comes a pulse-pounding new series with art from THE REVISIONIST’s Garry Brown! ‘This book is going to be the most sought after title of 2017″ -Rick Shea of Famous Faces & Funnies comic shop
The topic of lineage, and of the responsibility of parenthood have always been at the forefront of “Babyteeth” – after all this is a book about the everyday struggles of a young woman raising the literal antichrist – however here, in the eighth issue of the series, the concept of what it takes to be a good parent comes starkly into focus.
The issue divides its time between Sadie’s long overdue conversation with her mother Christine, and the efforts of her father and sister to find them. “Babyteeth” #8 fills in a lot of the gaps in the character’s (and the reader’s) knowledge of the convoluted events that led to a seemingly normal girl giving birth to the Bringer of the Apocalypse, even though all of that information comes from the unreliable narrator that is Christine. There’s a lot of information to process in this issue, something that feels intentionally overwhelming on the part of writer Donny Cates, so as to give the reader a similar feeling to how Sadie must be reacting to all of this exposition. Taking the issue as a whole, however, it’s interesting how the structure of the story tells us more about the characters than the information being provided.
Sure, we find out a lot about how and why baby Clark has come to be, and maybe most of it is true, even if the emphasis put on how much of this is a good thing might be an embellishment on Sadie’s mom’s behalf. What Cates does with the story in this issue, however, is to switch between what’s going on with both the mother and the father, and by doing so is able to starkly compare and contrast their vastly different parenting styles.
Christine tells Sadie that Heather is only her half-sister, a product of an affair Christine had with another man. Yet even though Heather isn’t his biological daughter, the way that “Cap” protects her is laid out as a direct comparison to Christine, whose treatment of her own biological daughter is so cold and cruel. Despite Christine’s revelations about their lineage, this man is Heather and Sadie’s father, through and through, and even though Christine is their flesh and blood, her casual indifference towards both of her daughters is shockingly evident, especially when contrasted with their father’s love and devotion.
Garry Brown works throughout this issue to similarly highlight the differences between both parents. Christine is shrouded in darkness constantly. Her figure often looms over Sadie, making her appear imposing and menacing. Christine has shadows cast across her face which further increase your mistrust of her words or at least a mistrust of her motivations. Sadie’s surroundings are black and unknowable, a symbol of how lost she’s feeling, and how alone she is. More often than not, Christine and Sadie don’t share panels when they talk, a subconscious disconnect or distance between the two. Then compare that to Cap and Heather.
Heather and her father share panels almost exclusively, and the mid-range shots always show them at the same height. They are equals, they are close, they are family. Despite the unknown location and the strange and horrific things happening around them, the world is bright daylight, houses, hedges, and sky are all rendered with a sense of realism that only gives a hopeful air to the situation, one with more confidence and strength because of it. These are two characters in unity, facing whatever is thrown their way together. There’s also the fact that Cap is on a mission here, always facing the reader or moving off to the right, leading us through the scene and towards action. Christine has her back to Sadie, and to us at times, or faces off to the left symbolically halting our reading flow, or at least slowing us down, working against us and therefore against Sadie. If this is a book about two parents then there is one that is doing everything to look after their kids and one that has sinister, ulterior motives.Continued below
That’s always been the beauty of “Babyteeth:” despite the fact that this is ostensibly a book about the birth of the antichrist, at its core, it’s a book about family, about responsibility and about parenthood. Sadie’s father knows that his grandson is something not of this earth, but is fighting tooth and nail to protect him. As is Sadie, unwilling as she is to let anyone harm baby Clark, despite the sometimes horrific things she’s been exposed to since he was born. Christine, on the other hand, abandoned her daughters from a young age when it was clear they weren’t the Final Son she was hoping for. She literally left her kids because they weren’t the Devil’s spawn, whereas her husband won’t leave them even though his grandson is.
“Babyteeth” #8, like every issue of this series so far, tackles grander themes with a casual ease that adds a sense of realism to the fantastical events in progress. The responses and actions of the characters feel real and fully developed, adding to the reader’s acceptance of what’s going on, and Garry Brown’s art works subtly in the background to make clear the motives of the cast left implied by the narrative, and further explores the question of what it takes to be a good guardian and role model. While all involved preach altruistic reasons for their actions, it’s clear which parent you’d want in your corner at the end of the world.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – an essential piece of the “Babyteeth” puzzle, with the concept of parenthood and lineage expertly explored.