REVIEW: Babyteeth #10 “Separation Anxiety”

BABYTEETH #10 / Writer: Donny Cates / Artist: Garry Brown / Colorist: Mark Englert / Letterer: Taylor Esposito / Publisher: Aftershock Comics / Publisher: April 25th, 2018

Babyteeth #10

As a new parent, Babyteeth #10 speaks directly to me, and my experience regarding anxiety as a parent. Sadie Ritter is stuck in a permanent state of dread as she tries to fight her way back to her child, Clark. There are times where I get trapped within moments of anxiety, concern for my child’s safety overpowering my other senses. Donny Cates taps into that here, giving it a supernatural flavor. Distance can be devastating to new born parents, even when you’re not in an underground bunker full of cultists who want to worship your child. Babyteeth #10 does not offer a heart-felt resolution, but it does it manage to bring the comic full circle to the opening scenes of Babyteeth #1, giving a sense of closure for the first act.

Last issue, I was hard on how the collision of the Coyote storyline and the Cult storyline derailed both plots. Babyteeth #10 goes a long way towards redeeming aspects of this collision, but it still feels like we rush towards a conclusion for both story-lines. The key players of the Cult may be permanently off the board now, but not before breaking the Ritter family apart. I predicted this outcome a few issues back, but it happens in a way I could not have foreseen, and it opens up the Babyteeth Universe in interesting ways. The Coyote is also a great character, with an interesting moral compass that makes him stand out in this issue. It makes me sad that he spent most of these last couple chapters in the background, little more than a deadly force of nature. The Coyote teams up with the demon that kills his daughter in this chapter, but this is never acknowledged and that feels like a misstep.

Babyteeth #10 is not only a strong issue for Donny Cates, but the artistic team as well. Clark develops a new ability in this issue, that allows him to open a portal between Earth and the “Red Realm”. Mark Englert steps up in a big way, visualizing the portal as crimson light that explodes through the surfaces trying to contain it, such as windows and doors. While red is the dominant color of his portals, they are also a vivid mash up of magentas, purples, and whites. Clark’s portals are treated like black holes, ripping up and pulling things towards it. This is very well realized by Garry Brown and gives a dynamic feel to a scene taking place in a tight confined space. After the events of the last issue, Heather Ritter is a beaten and bloody mess. As she struggles to save herself and Clark, red flushes over her features, enhancing her painful physical alterations. The bruising around her eyes and how it obscures the emotion of her facial features is truly top notch.

Babyteeth #10

Garry Brown’s best figure is Sadie. He gives her such expressive eyes, that her reactions alone can move you to tears. When she cries, her tears are given weight, that projects them above the shadows and dirt that cling to our characters. Sadie is often is presented in contrast to the primary color of a scene; she wears a red shirt in dark blue lightning, or her hair is given a red tint to contrast her against the light blue hijab of Olivia Tehan, a new character who is also a mother of a “chosen one”. My favorite visual beat in the comic is Sadie watching a fire burn and how the flames cast hues of red and shadows upon her face.

Taylor Esposito is given a lot to do this issue, as it is filled with sound effects. What I really appreciate about his lettering this time around is how it frames the scene. His title cards frame characters, drawing our attention to them. His letters move not only horizontally across the page, but vertically and diagonally as well, steering the eye through some chaotic sequences.

Babyteeth #10 brings us back full circle to where we began, but it does so brilliantly. When we return to the present of the story, we are much more in the loop than we were in the first issue, but we are also given a ton of teases that show us just how little we really know.  This issue left me feeling like the first act has now come to a close. The last couple issues are the weakest of the bunch, but that isn’t to say they aren’t strong. This comic is great when it focuses on Sadie’s parental anxiety, but it is at its best when it focuses on minor characters like the Coyote. The Babyteeth universe opens up in a big way and I cannot wait to see where it goes next; hoping for some Birthright vibes going forward.

Babyteeth #10

VERDICT: 3.5 out of 5 Broken Families

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Shaun Martineau is a young Canadian father and undergraduate with a BA in Cultural Theory and Creative Writing. He has reviewed Marvel titles for nine years but broke away in 2017 to focus more on smaller publishers like Aftershock, Black Mask, and Action Lab.

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