Sixteen-year-old girls have babies all the time… It’s not the end of the world.
For Sadie Ritter, the typical child rearing hurtles of first time parenthood, hurtles such as a fussy baby that refuses to be bottle fed, become compounded altogether by the rather unique nature of her child. For starters, rather than formula, her child feeds on blood. Secondly, its rather difficult to babyproof one’s cabinets when an international cabal known as The Silhouette destroys your house in an attempt to kill you and your baby. For those among us feeling those familiar November jitters, those among us looking for our post-Halloween horror fix, writer Donny Cates (Doctor Strange, God Country) and artist Garry Brown (Batman, Black Road) deliver in dirt clotted spades. Published by AfterShock, Babyteeth could perhaps best be described as Rosemary’s Baby meets Juno.
The comic begins with a narration from our previously pregnant protagonist, Sadie. Much akin to the end of the first Terminator (spoilers?), Sadie is leaving a series of recordings for her child, a child that may one day grow up to change the world as we know it. The catch? Said child may very well be the anti-Christ. As Sadie records her testimonial for her devil incarnate son Clark (named after yet another fictitious comic book character sent to Earth as an infant), the reader becomes privy to the day she went into labor. A 16 year old high schooler reluctant to tell anyone about her pregnancy save for her older sis Heather, disguising her newly found fatter physique under layers of winter clothing, Sadie begins having contractions that eerily coincide with local earthquakes. Overcoming her sister’s erratic driving as well as a near death experience at the hospital, Sadie gives birth to a perfectly happy, perfectly healthy, perfectly hellish baby boy.
It’s not long after Sadie, her tough-as-nails sister Heather and their doting Desert Storm dad take the abominable bundle of joy home that their collective string of bad luck takes a turn for the worse. Between attempting to nurse an infant with tiny retractable fangs, being pursued by a gun-toting assassin sporting fiery pink mohawk and inadvertently opening a portal to Hell releasing Rocket Raccoon’s demon horned cousin, our plucky protagonist and her faithful fam find some small respite while befriending a pretentious warlock by the name of Dancy Cherrywood. Under the employ of a secret sect called The Way, Cherrywood is the designated bodyguard of Sadie and baby Clark (think of a gender reversed Mrs. Baylock, Damien’s nanny from The Omen).
The book’s framing device unfolds on the twist reveal that Sadie (now more than a stone’s throw away from her Salt Lake City, Utah homestead) is video recording her messages in some unspecified future, from some undisclosed ruins in Palestine; a biblical backdrop to this wholly unholy tale.
Despite seemingly heavy subject matter, Babyteeth is tackled with no small measure of wit and wry humor. Cates’ first person prose, coupled with Brown’s nuanced illustration work, elevate what might otherwise feel like familiar, Ira Levinian, old hat hokum to worthwhile fiction that’s both contemporary and eagerly digestible. If you find your feet still firmly planted in October and require something to stave off the unstoppable onslaught of Christmas decorum, Babyteeth is a must read for both genre horror enthusiasts and acolytes of Diablo Cody.
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