You know that sound you make when you have a fantastic piece of chocolate? The one where you hang your mouth open and it’s almost like a mini orgasm that you’re having all from a piece of chocolate? Be honest you know what I’m talking about. Well that’s how I feel after reading Trees each month. It inspires that “it’s so good” sound, but then also the one of crushing disappointment as it’s over just as you reach for more. This issue… this fucking issue is so damn good. It kicks off with Eligia who has been sent on a mission by the Professor to question her boyfriend. It’s a complete 180 for her character which is shocking, but it works. It feels like she’s been coached and you can tell that she’s fighting back her true feelings and personality all for information. It’s great though because she dupes her “boyfriend” into spilling the beans on how he makes money and such.
The bulk of the story is spent with Eligia and Chenglei. His side of the story is amazing. It’s a fantastic statement about genders and sexuality. It’s honest and completely different from any other comic that’s pathetically attempted to broach the subject. What’s better is that Warren Ellis never makes it feel like a gimmick to grab sales. I don’t even know if it’s his true thoughts on the subject because it doesn’t come across as having an agenda, but rather the stance of those characters that are in the situation. Either way Ellis handles it wonderful and has definitely paved new ground in comics.
Ellis doesn’t get enough credit for his dialogue; sure it’s not like anyone is denying it, but usually his concepts are focused on more than his dialogue and it really should be the opposite. I’m sticking to my theory that he’s changing genres with each set of characters and it’s pretty clear that each story set at the very least has a theme that he’s going for or some kind of social commentary attached to it. Ellis switches styles and tonality from Eligia and Chenglei’s story seamlessly. It’s so seamless that you forget that you weren’t reading an entire issue with just one set of characters until it flips back again.
The other man doing work on this issue is Jason Howard. He brings so much to the personality of the characters. In particular is the 180 from Eligia. Her body language is different, her smile is different, but she’s convincing. It’s even more apparent when her normal personality cracks through at one point and she fights it back. Howard’s art work is cinematic and yet 100% comic book in origin.
When you look at the artists that Ellis typically works with they all tend to have a hyper-realistic style making Howard the odd man out. His style is detailed and stylized and yet the style isn’t that it’s detailed like the other creators Ellis has worked with. That’s why Howard stands out in the best of ways because he brings his own flair to the story that a hyper-realistic artist can’t. There’s personality in the art and it feels like a true collaboration.
Look at this point you’ve probably made up your mind on this series. That’s how comic fans are. I don’t know if my words will reach any lapsed readers or snag any news ones and honestly that’s not my job as a reviewer. I’d love to think that I help in some small way with the sales of this series, but I don’t think this team needs me in the least bit. That’s okay too, but I am going to continue the conversation about this series. It’s been an incredible ride so far and with two more issue in this first story arc left I’m really looking forward to continuing the story and the discussion.
Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Jason Howard Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/15/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital