Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jason Howard, Trees #2 continues to explore what happens when a bunch of huge, alien tower structures known as “Trees” land on earth and proceed to do absolutely nothing… or so it seems. Is it good?
Trees #2 (Image Comics)
Trees #1 succeeded mainly because of the strength of its central metaphor. The titular Trees–giant black obelisks that were spectacularly destructive upon their arrival but no longer seem to pose an immediate threat—can symbolize, not too subtly, the often blindingly obvious problems in our lives that we choose to ignore. These problems can be anything from pollution and global climate change, our diminishing sense of privacy, the growing threat of terrorism and radical fundamentalism in the middle east, or even that weird cough that you’ve had for the past few weeks that you haven’t seen a doctor about yet. The metaphor is made even stronger by the fact that Ellis and Howard primarily focus on the world as it is ten years after the arrival of the Trees, as societies have developed around the Trees, with humanity at large choosing to simply work around the Trees rather than actually doing anything about the Trees.
Unfortunately, Ellis and Howard do little to build upon their central metaphor in the second issue, which is a large part of the reason why the issue is rather disappointing. It doesn’t read so much like a second issue as it does an extension of the first issue. Most of the characters that were introduced in the first issue are not featured in this issue, with other characters being introduced instead, such as a revolutionary gang member in Cefalu and an economist president of Somalia. They all have some interesting things going on with them that give them the potential to become interesting characters, but so far, there’s not much to care about. This isn’t a very character-oriented comic.
The only characters from the first issue that are featured again in the follow-up issue are the scientists studying a Tree somewhere in the arctic. This segment gives the story some forward momentum regarding the effects that the Trees may have on the environment, but what that means for the story as a whole remains to be seen. It must be difficult to plot a story about alien invaders that just pretty much stand there not bothering anybody, so hopefully Ellis and Howard will find a way to pick up the pace a little in due time.
Since this second issue has far less action than the first one, Jason Howard’s art puts a damper on the quality of the comic as well. It’s not bad, per se, but it doesn’t quite fit the tone of the story that Ellis is telling. His figures are a bit too cartoony, and his style is full of messy, harsh lines that constantly seem like they are trying to invoke intensity when the story doesn’t call for it. Being a creator-owned series, a change of artist is unlikely, and as such, my chance of sticking around for this series is also unlikely. Still, the concept is so strong that I might come back for one more issue anyway. Maybe Howard’s art will grow on me. I sure hope that happens, because I really want to see where this story goes.
Is It Good?
With its utterly brilliant concept, Trees has the potential to be a great series, but with inappropriate art and lack of character focus, the second issue is a disappointment.
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