Trillium #3 by Jeff Lemire (Comics Review)

Coming straight out of the left field, Trillium has proven to be one of the surprise hits for me this year. I picked up the first issue on a whim in August, and I was amazed by how good it was. Then came the second issue last month, and continued to blow me away. Beyond just good storytelling and good art, the series so far has been notable for for structural experimentation, which makes for a rather nice experience. Or would I suppose if I was getting this in print! In digital, some of that effect is lost (more on this later in the review).

Now here we have the third issue and once again Jeff Lemire continues to impress in every way. Coming on the heels of the excellent Green Arrow #24, this is most definitely Jeff Lemire’s week as the top-man in comics. Lemire’s experimentation with format continues as he moves the story of Nika and William’s time-crossed romance forward.

Trillium 03To start, I love the cover. Jeff Lemire’s previous two covers have been quite good and the same holds true here. The duality of the story, represented by Nika and William, is represented really well here, as are the differences in their culture and their “location” in time. Framed against the blue aliens and the temple that is at the heart of the story here, and is a very important narrative/plot device, the entire scene proves to be a great representative scene. It even hints at some of the things that will happen in the issue as the story goes on and is a really ice touch.

In the first issue, the story was presented flip-style. Nika and William’s narratives were completely separate from each other and thus the two halves of the complete story were reversed in relation to each other. Then in the second issue, it was a straight story since the two had had a chance to meet and their story was moving along together. In the third issue, Lemire goes back to the separate narrative where Nika’s story is told straight as normal, while William’s pages are flipped around. In a print issue, this really wouldn’t be a problem but since I’m primarily a digital reader, this gave me a bit of a headache. Without being able to lock the auto-rotate on my iPad, this would have been really frustrating.

But still, the way that Lemire structures the story is really interesting. He mixes the styles of the first two issues and creates something very different. The structural uniqueness is most definitely to the advantage of the story and the series itself. It sets the series apart from all the other comics out there and it means that Lemire is looking to attract readers by more than just presenting a good story with good art. It is an experiment that works for me.

With the story itself, things are beginning to heat up and we are now in the ten minutes to midnight phase, where the end of the world (Nika’s world that is) and the temporal distortions via the temple are getting more extreme. Before, it was as if the temporal mixup was just a one-off, but after this issue, I think that there is far more to it than it seems. And the temple is the nexus for it all. Its where the trillium plant is found after all, the only place where in the future it is abundant enough to aid the last remnants of humanity against the Caul sentient virus.

Rather stirring stuff all over. Especially since we are really starting to see some backstory on both the protagonists. In Nika’s case we see a flashback to when her father was still alive and she was evacuated with her mother and a great number of other people from their homeworld. In William’s case, we see it through dialogue with his brother Clayton. We already know he is suffering from PTSD and has a bit of an OCD as well, but now we see how he was… treated, with all the post-WW1 implications of such treatments involved.

The art, as usual is stellar. There’s just one major splash page in the issue this time and it is not exactly bigged up, but the way it is drawn still makes it stand-out. And I’m really getting into Lemire’s art-style now, combined with his and Jose Vilarrubia’s colours. These two guys are really rocking that art boat.

Rating: 9/10

More Trillium: #1, #2.

Posted on October 6, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Look at Green Arrow # 19, page 3: Oliver admits he probably couldn’t have made the impossible shot that Komodo threw at him. A normal superhero would never say he/she is inferior in comparison to his/her villain: Oliver, on the contrary, admits it, because Lemire loves to deconstruct the superhero mythology.
    Second deconstructing detail: at the end of the issue, Fyff asks Oliver what happened, and he replies “Got beat up by a little girl.” A superhero is supposed to be invincible and to defeat even the most powerful villains, so Oliver admitting that a child defeated him is something delightfully nonconformist and unusual.
    Third deconstructing detail: A superhero never escapes flat out, and never gives up. Oliver, on the contrary, decided to wave goodbye to Komodo when he realized he had been encircled. And he ended up in a dump! Can you imagine any other superhero in a situation like that? AWESOME!!!
    Lemire’s deconstructing the superhero mythology in a more evident way in Animal Man. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.
    The only problem with Lemire’s comics is, they leave you a bit ruined for other comics. I’ve been searching for other books that reach the same heights but there aren’t many out there.
    One of them is Witchblade. It faced a sort of reboot from issue # 151, and it’s been pure awesomeness each month since then.
    3 other series that can stand comparison with Green Arrow are Hawkeye, Katana and Vibe. Hawkeye has a very similar narrative pattern, now that I think about it: it focuses on a street level and non superpowered superhero, and both Green Arrow and Hawkeye have a self-deprecation humor I absolutely adore.


    • I have no idea why you are giving me spoilers for a comic I haven’t read and posting in a review for a comic that has nothing to do with that comic, beyond being written by the same writer.


      • You mentioned Green Arrow in your post, so I decided to share my thoughts about the series with you. I didn’t mean to irritate you, and I’m sorry if I unintentionally did it. Thank you for your reply.


        • No offense, but it is irritating. And mostly because you weren’t sharing about Green Arrow as a series, but a very specific issue at that. And if you really did want to talk about Green Arrow, feel free to do that on a review of a Green Arrow comic that I have read, namely #24, which went up on Friday. Link available on the comics review page.


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