Jeff Lemire delves into science fiction in Trillium, published by Vertigo. Originally, Trillium was a monthly limited series; as a complete graphic novel, I really respect Lemire’s ambition. However, the tale of two people from totally different places meeting up is only decent in execution.
Nika is from the year 3797 and is exploring inter-lingual relations with the Atabithians. Her superior doesn’t mind getting rid of them to get to all of the Trillium flowers which is a potential key in the survival in the remaining human race. Within the walls of possibly hostile Atabithian territory, Nika has a nonviolent encounter with some Atabithians and their mysterious temple. On the other side of that temple is William, a World War I survivor who wants to adventure away from his stiflingly mundane life in London.
That last paragraph was heavy on Nika’s story, isn’t it? Lemire seems to favor a matriarchal bent to the story. Trillium’s most prominent feature in the cover is Nika’s face. Even when [SPOILER ALERT] Nika and William’s worlds are mashed up after the destruction of the temple, Nika’s “new” life has women taking prominent roles running Britain and readers are informed of the woman-led society. Meanwhile, William’s “new” life is… the people he knew get to dress in spacesuits. [END SPOILERS]
While it’s clear that Nika and William bond, any descriptions one may have read that Trillium’s “romantic” is inaccurate. They need each other for survival, but there’s little indication that they’re in love beyond that.
Lemire, with colorist Jose Villarrubia, presents a loose art style that is effective in the more surreal moments, such as the experiences of anyone ingesting trillium. Lemire’s quirky, marionette-like figures has the characters in a constant sense of urgency and fear. Chapter Four contains an interesting gimmick: both Nika and William’s stories are told in parallel on opposite sides, top and bottom, of the page. The chapter makes sense if read one at a time; this means inconvenient backtracking and a lack of nifty juxtaposition.
It’s incredible that Lemire tackles a sci-fi tale that has an epic scale. Not every idea is fully developed, yet the roles of women are very intriguing. Trillium makes for a good afternoon/evening read, but it’s not something you’d spend the effort gushing about to your ancestors or possible alien visitors.
Thanks to Vertigo/DC Comics and NetGalley for supplying a review copy.