Published on October 15th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Trees #6 – Review
In Trees #6 Warren Ellis focuses on the day after the night before. Each aspect of the narrative is a consequence of a specific moment from previous issues.
In the case of Chenglei he sits in the yard of the Great Spaceship and contemplates who he is in the light of his sexual awakening. His Uncle takes pity on him and perches down beside him to help him open up. They discuss many topics but at the heart of it all is the idea of acceptance, after all that is why everyone in Shu is there, it’s an experimental city where the old prejudices no longer exist and whether you are gay, straight, bi or transgender, you will be welcomed by the community. Chenglei’s uncle speaks of the early days, when Shu was first built, and how it took time before the city knew what it was going to be and how that would work. Not only does this give the city historical context but it acts as a metaphor for the struggle that Chenglei has with his emotions. He escaped from a strict province where being gay was beaten out of people and they were forced in to marriages as a way to cure them. This makes him doubt his own feelings and an internal struggle rages until his uncle urges him to talk to Zhen, who is transgender and now the object of Chenglei’s affections.
Elsewhere, Eligia quizzes Tito on politics and extortion while something strange is happening to Dr Marsh.
There is a strong focus on double and hidden meanings in this issue as Warren Ellis uses a very limited cast to investigate human interaction. The narrative, for the most part, is split into two sub plots and in each, one character manipulates another with nothing but speech. In Chenglei’s case, his uncle forces him to look at himself and what it is he truly wants this results in him going to see Zhen and confide in her. This concept is mirrored in the conversation Eligia has with Tito, except she is manipulating him into telling her all about his illegal business. The outcome, similar to the outcome in Shu, is that Eligia seeks out someone else to share her new information with.
Both of these instances can be considered a mental change in each of the characters and how they have been altered in some way by the Trees that they live under. Ellis then hammers home this point in the final few pages by showing the reader what is becoming of Marsh as he undergoes a more physical change.
Jason Howards uses colour to wonderful affect in this issue as he limits his palette throughout. The exchange between Chenglei and Zhen best illustrate this as the panels shift in colour from cold blues to hot reds as the conversation bounces back and forth with Zhen’s fiery defiance and Chenglei’s bubbling honesty.
The major story may not have progressed very far in this issue but that’s the beauty of Ellis’ writing: his scripts are full of concepts and ideas to keep the reader interested so that he can unravel his story over the space of more issues without appearing to drag it out.
This is a thought provoking issue about the concepts of acceptance that’s worth reading even if you’re not currently engrossed in the series.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard