Story: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
What They Say:
Terrible machines have been set in motion.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Thirteen issues into Trees and I’m admittedly still in that unsure stage of exactly what’s going on. But that feels like it’s half the point as the world doesn’t have a clue what’s going on with the Trees themselves and there’s a sense of unease that permeates everything. It’s an interesting angle to take, one that I can see working better in serialized television format or through novels than here, but there’s something that continues to be compelling about it. Ellis and Howard are working the plan that they have and doing it their way, which has a whole lot of appeal to me because they’re not trying to appease any particular market forces. And I keep wanting to support that because I’m hopeful that the payoff is worth it in the end. This installment just adds more of that hope that we might be closer to a clearer question if not some actual answers.
While the bulk of the book does focus on Creasy, we do get some decent material towards the end focusing on the Mayor and what’s going on in New York City. His plans are somewhat convoluted overall with who he’s manipulating and the reasons why, since so much of it goes back to what happened when the Tree hit, and we see that things are seemingly cleaned up in regards to particular loose ends of his with the pirate-types that he was arming. That he’s using the police against them, using some high-tech weaponry at that, leaves me even more unsure of what his real goal is at this point – and the nearly four month wait between issues doesn’t help either since the last one we saw was in August. But it’s certainly intriguing and we see that things are almost like a tinder box in the city.
Creasy’s tale with Ian is a little clearer in a sense, mostly because it paints the idea that our understanding of what’s going on is akin to someone trying to understand things so far gone that it’s near impossible. With her learning that the black flowers are actually normal plants, she’s pretty much set off by this in a big way and gets into a bit of a storming infodump with Ian. It reinforces for her that nobody knows anything and the meager research is nowhere near enough. Talking this through amid the ruins that are five thousand years old adds the right context, especially in how the Trees seemed to have settled near what were once ancient places of “civilization” as opposed to the modern day. There’s hints of meaning here, but I feel nowhere near capable of piecing together what Ellis wants us to take away from it beyond simply being intrigued.
Trees continues to be a series that has to be read in full as there’s no real drop-in issue going on here. There’s a large, sprawling storyline that’s unfolding even as it has narrowed its focus to just a couple of characters for the moment. The concepts are tantalizing and leave me wanting to know more with what’s really going on. What helps carry a lot of this uncertainty through is Howard’s artwork as it has the right quality and tone to work here, a kind of roughness that just adds an earthy tone to the feeling. It’s got a grounded aspect that’s really appealing even as we see this massive Trees in the background. Hopefully we’ll start to see things come together in a connectable fashion soon as the book really needs that to cement itself and move forward.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: December 9th, 2015