In Review: Babyteeth #1

This horrific tale is undercut by some disappointing visuals.

The covers: AfterShock is certainly pulling out all the stops to promote this first issue by giving it thirty-two different covers — Wow! The Regular cover is by Garry Brown and shows a pregnancy test reading positive, but instead of it being a minus or a plus, this shows a pentagram, with a giant pentagram overlaying the hand holding the device. This is simple and gets the idea across, but its a really rough image. Plus, the background is too dark to show the large symbol. The “regular” Variant cover was created by Elizabeth Torque and shows Sadie on the ground in a gray dress cradling her newborn to her chest. They are surrounded by a pool of blood on a white background. This is lovely and disturbing simultaneously. There’s a Blank Sketch Variant cover for fans to pick up to have an artist sketch a one of a kind cover or to have the creators sign it’s front. Decent. CBCS Comics has a black cover variant that is limited to 300 copies. This, too, can be used like a sketch cover if an artist uses a white pen. Collected Comics & Games has a pair of variants, both illustrated by Tobias Morrow. The regular Variant features Sadie as a saint on a stained glass window, though she has a skeleton of a horned beast on her stomach. The Virgin Variant is exactly the same as the Variant, but textless. The first one with text looks best. The Comic Mint Variant is by Dylan Burnett and it’s a neat point of view. The reader is the newborn in a crib, looking up at the mobile. Dangling from a pentagram is an odd shape, a skull, what appears to be Link’s head, an upside down cross, and the head of the devil. Twisted idea carried off very well. ComiXposure has two variant covers, both by Elias Chatzoudis. The first one, limited to 300 copies, shows Sadie Ritter standing before a brick wall, that has a pentagram on it, with her holding the baby’s teddy bear. She’s got on skull shirt, her pants are ripped, and her head is wrapped in a bandanna. The background is very dark, but she is easily seen. The second one, limited to 100 copies, is the same image with different coloring: the background is violet, the pentagram a hot pink, and her shirt dark purple. Very nice. Three different variants were created by EH! by Nat Jones. The first, limited to 250 copies, shows a gigantic winged red demon holding a pink infant. The B version is limited to 150 copies and has the demon in gray, the baby in red, and the title at the bottom. The C version is a foil variant, using a textless version of the B cover, though a pentagram has been placed between the demon’s horns. Decent. The Famous Faces & Funnies Variant is by Garry Brown and shows a close up of a Sadie’s engorged belly that she’s holding. The baby is shown sleeping within with blue lines, but fangs are superimposed over the baby in red. Simple, yet creepy image. Forbidden Planet and Jetpack has the variants created by Juan Doe. The top two thirds of the image has a pair of white clawed hands holding up the infant, who has horns. The bottom third is black with a splattering of blood coming down the center, where a white line that divides the images resembles a heart beat reading. Very cool. The Virgin Variant is exactly the same image, just without any text. I also like this. Frankie’s Comics in the states and 7 Ate 9 Comics in the UK have a lenticular cover by Mike Rooth. Created like a stained glass window, the “good” version of the cover features Sadie dressed as Mary, holds her hold newborn, while a shepherd, lamb, ram, camel, and two birds look on. Moving the cover slightly has it change to a hellish nightmare, with Sadie dressed in her usual clothes, her infant looks like baby Hellboy, who emits yellow smoke, the shepherd has become a Reap-esque figure and all the animals are red skeletons. There’s also a Variant that just features the “Holy” version of this cover, as well as a “Hell” version Variant. Both are terrific. The Heroes Con Variant cover is too abstract for me. This shows the infant, resembling a flaming demon, teething on a bagged copy of Hot Stuff (Okay, that’s funny), but the female behind him is is just to wildly constructed to make her out. Disappointing. There’s a really cool Variant from ID10T, showing baby Clark wearing a Bad To The Bone beanie, with red eyes, and one fang. He’s holding a bloody crow he’s just killed. Its feathers litter the infant’s crib, joining the torn teddy bear and a mini version of the Necronomicon. I wish I knew who drew this, but I can’t find the artist’s name anywhere. JJ’s Comics and Art have two variants, both illustrated by Phil Hester. The first is limited to 300 and features the toddler being held in one of those front carriers that some parents have to tote their tots about. The baby has his hood up, and he’s holding a rattle that contains the world. His outfit is pink, his eyes red, and Sadie’s outfit is blue. I like this idea for the cover, but the pink isn’t working. Better is the edition limited to 100 copies that is in black and white, save the red eyes and the Earth rattle. Madness Games and Comics is an odd variant. It’s by Larry Watts and shows Clark on the floor, sitting down to reach for a globe. Three blocks are before him, featuring a predictable trio of numbers, while above several clawed silhouetted hands reaching for him. This is just too simplistic. Midtown Comics has a variant by Francesco Francavilla that’s probably the most disturbing of the bunch: an x-ray of Sadie’s stomach, with the baby inside shown to have glowing eyes and ugly, sharp teeth. The dark orange coloring makes this a real creeper. Another two Variants were created by Shelby Robertson for the Nerd Store Utah. The first Variant, limited to 200 copies, shows Sadie holding her baby; behind her head is a halo and her hands are covered in blood. She’s holding her son, who also has a halo, and he’s swaddled in black, which match his eyes. Pretty and creepy. The Virgin Variant, limited to 100, is exactly the same, just textless. I prefer the Virgin Variant. The next variant is from Red Pegasus Comics. This shows a close-up of the bear the toddler receives from a family member. It’s missing an eye, his eye is a little shredded, has a chain around its neck which sports a pentagram. Arturo Torres has created a decent drawing, but the colors are extremely bland, hurting the impact of the image. Unknown Comic Books has three different covers to collect, all created by Brent Pepples. The first cover is limited to 500 copies and shows a happy Sadie on her knees, playing with baby Clark by lifting him in the air. This would look joyous, were the room they were in not on fire. Very nice. A Black and White Variant of this, limited to 100, is fine, but I prefer it colored. There’s also a Virgin Color Variant, also limited to 100 copies, that’s just like the 500 copies variant, just without text. I really like this. Wade’s Comic Madness has two variants to pick up. The A cover is a color image by Karl Waller, limited to 200 copies, of Sadie with her raincoat on, raising Clark above her head, who’s got two flames coming off his head and some flames coming from his feet, which are spiraling into the sky as upside crosses. Creepy image. The B is the same illustration, limited to 100 copies, but uncolored. Overall grades: Regular C, Variant Torque A, Blank Sketch Variant C, CBSC Variant C, Collected Comics & Games Variant B, Collected Comics & Games Virgin Variant B-, Comic Mint Variant B, ComiXposure Variant A A-, ComiXposure B A+, EH! Variant A A-, EH! Variant B A, EH! Variant C A+, Forbidden Planet/Jetpack Variant A, Famous Faces & Funnies Variant A-, Forbidden Planet/Jetpack Virgin Variant A-, Frankie’s Comics/7 Ate 9 Comics All Variants A+,  Heroes Con Variant D, ID10T A+, JJ Comics and Art Variant A C, JJ Comics and Art Variant B A, Madness Games and Comics D, Midtown Comics A-, Nerd Store Utah A A, Nerd Store Utah B B+, Red Pegasus Comics C-, Unknown Comics A A-, Unknown Comics Black and White Variant B, Unknown Comics Virgin A+, Wade’s Comic Madness A A-, Wade’s Comic Madness B B

The story: This story is pretty simple, as it’s been spoiled by every cover, but writer Donny Cates makes this entertaining. Sadie Ritter is trying to make a recording on her cell phone to tell her story of how Baby Clark came to be. She has a difficult time doing so in a harsh, broken down environment, but she begins, starting at school. She explains how she was able to hide her pregnancy until one day and that’s when things get going. Her sister is introduced, and she’s quite the firecracker. She arrives just in time to rescue Sadie from some bullies, but then Sadie and her unborn child do something that everyone feels. A dramatic race to the hospital leads to a birth with a very interesting two page sequence on 14 and 15. The boy is named, another family member arrives, and all seems well until the story returns to when it began and its location is stated. Cates is setting things up, giving just a taste of troubles to follow. This book could go anywhere and I’m ready for the ride. Overall grade: B

The art: The visuals on this book are very different from what I’m used to picking up in a comic. Garry Brown’s art is very loose. For example, the first panel suggests a setting, rather than renders it explicitly. Granted, this setting is the surprise at the end of this issue, but even the debris on the ground could have been a little more solidified. This is even more apparent in the final panel on Page 3. The background of the first panel on the fourth page is really suggestive. The character work is a little better, with Sadie being the most complete looking character, but she’s the lead, so Brown should have the best handle on her. I do like the way she’s drawn throughout the book, with her trying to be positive on the opening pages really giving her some good emotion. Heather is inconsistently drawn with her first panel showing her hand to be larger than her head. She improves after this panel, but after her debut I found myself always looking at her face then her hands. The vehicles are also pretty loose, with the speed lines that surround them really sticking out negatively. When the tremors occur, the visuals look decent, but are lost in the overpowering colors. The visuals could keep me from coming back to this book. Overall grade: D+

The colors: Mark Englert’s work on this book ranges from good to overpowering. The opening three pages create the night well enough, allowing Sadie to be seen and create a good light source from her phone. There’s a nice subtle bit of coloring when the time shifts to the past, as Sadie is continually in shadows until she dramatically enters the hospital: that was pretty neat. The tremor work was too much. I could barely make out what was occurring in the panel and am still lost at the top of Page 11. Overall grade: C

The letters: I’m thinking that Brown inserted some sounds into his own work, because they look nothing like what Taylor Esposito brings to a book; the sounds on Page 5 look horrible and I can’t believe they’re from Esposito. Narration, dialogue, yells, and the tremors’ sounds look great, but those sounds on 5, 6, 7, and 9 look amateurish. I have to give a poor grade because of those pages. Overall grade: C

The final line: This horrific tale is undercut by some disappointing visuals. I really wanted to like this, but the art was not for me. I’ll go one more issue, but if it looks the same I’m out. Overall grade: C+

To order a print copy go to http://aftershockcomics.com/store-direct-market-comics/

To order a digital copy go to http://aftershockcomics.com/on-sale-june-2017/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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