It’s no secret that Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite writers and artists currently producing content in the comic book industry, which is why I had been looking forward to reading Trillium since the day it was first announced at NYCC in 2012. Trillium is an 8 issue miniseries written and painted by Lemire centering around two characters; Nika Temsmith, a botanist working in space 1,000 years in the future in search of a rare flower, Trillium, needed to cure a virus from 3739, and William Pike, a WWI veteran journeying through the Amazon while experiencing PTSD. The series is a science fiction love story, subtitled The Last Love Story Ever Told, which takes place across time and the universe. Intriguing, am I right?
In typical Jeff Lemire fashion, the first issue completely exceeded all of my expectations. The issue is divided into two 14 page sections which tell the stories that lead the main characters to meet each other from each of their points of view. There’s something poetic about two characters who’re meant to fall in love with one another literally meeting in the middle of the issue (similar to how all relationships require compromises, and for each person to meet the other halfway). Lemire has taken the typical story structure of most literature (exposition –> rising action –> climax –> falling action –> denouement) and recreated the story chart for Trillium by applying it in a way where the end is directly in the center of the book. Technically speaking, there is no falling action or denouement in the first issue because both sides of the climax constitute the rising action for one of the characters. The way Lemire is able to revolutionize storytelling never ceases to amaze me. After reading the first issue, I watched this interview with him on CBR, and learned that each side of the story not only has an equal number of pages, but it also has an equal panel count on each page, and the exact same page layout for both character’s stories. Lemire is correct in stating that he “created the perfect mirror.” He also informs CBR that the second issue, which comes out this Wednesday, is going to be all about language.
I would be remiss in ending my review here without mentioning the beautiful artwork that enhances the narrative, and takes on a burden equal to that of the prose in conveying Trillium’s story. Flipping through the painted panels is reminiscent of what it must feel like to experience a lucid dream in Lemire’s head. The book is water colored by Jose Villarrubia who previously worked with Lemire on his last Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth. There’s a clear shift in the style of art used in Sweet Tooth to the style used in Trillium (which is similar to the art in Lemire’s original graphic novel Underwater Welder), and there’s no doubt that the pair have certainly grown and matured together in their progression from series to series. One of my favorite aspects of all of Lemire’s artwork is that the way his character’s are drawn allow the reader to grasp the experience and stress behind the character’s journey up until this point in time. So far, we’re aware that William is a war veteran, but it’s his physical features and flashback panels that give us a hint as to how traumatized his character truly is. If you haven’t read Trillium #1 just yet, I highly recommend purchasing the issue as a physical comic. You will reap the rewards of the flip book element of the story and the mirrored panels will be more easily appreciated than if you were to read it digitally.
Trillium #2 debuts in comic shops this Wednesday September 4th.