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It happens to everyone that enjoys a form of mass
entertainment… eventually something you’re looking forward to doesn’t live up
to your own hype. That’s what happened with The Tooth, Oni Press’
newest graphic novel about a crime fighting tooth that resides in a man's jaw
line; as I sat down to read its adventures. The concept of a tooth that fights
crime, but then returns to some guy’s mouth was ridiculous and awesome all in
the same breath. Unfortunately it fell short of greatness, but not delight.
The story begins with a woman in a police station reporting that her fiancé is missing and that the last time she saw him something was wrong with his face. As the kind-hearted Sherriff is about to take pity on her, he’s called away to a bizarre event that’s unfolded at the dentist’s office. He arrives on scene to discover that something broke through the wall of the office. The Sherriff begins talking to the Dentist and soon he discovers that the girl’s fiancé was at the office during the trouble.
We flash back to the girl and her fiancé, Graham, walking up to his recently inherited house that sits creepily on top of a hill. She comments on how frightening it is, but Graham pokes fun at her saying it’s all in her head and then scares her with a stuffed bird. Eventually Graham makes himself at home and begins discovering everything that was left to him by his deceased Grandfather. He finds a room full of the occult and then a tooth with a face sitting on his porch… twice! Soon an old man by the name of Caleb King and his thugs are roughing Graham up and asking for the wayward child which turns out to be our smiling tooth.
Graham explains that he threw it away. One of the thugs discovers that the tooth is growing in size in the waste basket. When Graham really gets into danger the Tooth grows to human size and begins killing the goons, beating one of them to death with their own arm. When it’s all said and done, the tooth jumps into Graham’s mouth for a rest. If you want to know what happens next, check out our 17 page preview for the book here.
The concept is that of a B-Movie, but it’s so ridiculous that the very thought of it makes you smile. A crime fighting tooth that resides in some guys mouth? It’s funny to even type that. Unfortunately the story takes itself really serious, but that’s not 100% bad. It’s just the fact that it could have been more over the top with itself, while still being serious and the ridiculousness of it all would have made it inadvertently funny. That’s really the problem with the entire book is that it doesn’t take anything far enough to make it great, only good.
There is a fair amount of gore in the book, but even then it results in more of a PG-13 horror style in which the artist changes the focus of the scene from the gore. The aspect of the story that was enjoyable was the characters and the amount of depth that the world had. The back story for the Tooth is well plotted and interesting enough that it doesn’t come off long and boring. The character of Graham is a bit goofy, but it works for the situation he’s in and even makes the ending more believable. All of the characters dialog is well crafted and believable, which gives the characters a sense of depth. Without these aspects the story would not be very good and would steal all the enjoyment from The Tooth.
The art is a very retro style, but it’s very intentional as the entire book is a throwback to 60’s and 70’s horror style comics; even if it’s not very horrific. Artist Matt Kindt does a great job of making the book very classic looking, while maintaining modern storytelling techniques with his choice of angles and the way he frames a panel. Kindt’s style may appear rough around the edges, but it comes across very intentional which keeps it from being distracting. I do wish that the art on the Tooth himself was better at times. There are several scenes of him crouching and it just looks awkward.
The Tooth may not have wowed me as much as I would have liked it to have, but it still was a very enjoyable read and I’m glad that a book like it exists in the world of comics. Hopefully, it will be successful so that the Tooth’s journeys can continue another day. There’s nothing like The Tooth on the comic market, so if you’re looking for something a little weird, a little strange and a bit gory then I recommend checking out The Tooth.
Overall Score – 8.0/10
Written by: Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee
Penciled by: Matt Kindt
Lettered by: Christopher Sebela
Published by: Oni Press