In ‘Trees’ #3, we followed the events of the artist Chenglei and his landlord’s transgender child Zhen as well as an elderly professor and his new student. This issue we follow more of Chenglei, the arctic station from the second issue, and find out through other means that Somalia is up to no good with their shortest tree on the planet.
Ellis is weaving multiple complex tales in each issue which could all, so far, be stand alone comics that are just set in the same world. I have not yet seen any indication that they will be weaved together at any point down the line and honestly I’m OK if they don’t. With multiple stories being told from multiple points across the globe from people in every aspect of life, this isn’t necessarily a set of stories that need to come together. The point could very well be how humanity deals with the presence of these alien trees on our planet.
Of course our first focus of the story doesn’t really concern them at all. Yes, the artist Chenglei may have come to study the trees and more but what appears to be a coming of age story has barely touched on them. In fact the main focus here appears to be about a boy struggling with being alone when surrounded by so much that he isn’t used to. It’s also about his new transgendered friend, their place in the world, and understanding. You can look at the story at either face value or really appreciate for how deep it is.
Of course the depth couldn’t be realized without Jason Howard’s amazing artwork. His ability to show motion and interior thought by scenes portrayed on the page are amazing. One area shows Chenglei as he is trying to ignore the conversation that Zhen is having with her friends and how he tones it out is illustrated beautifully.
With the world having already waited ten years for the trees to do anything at all, I have a feeling their direction with humanity is going to wait a little longer in the comics. However, up in the Arctic station that might prove to be changing. We’ve been shown the black flowers that are sprouting up in previous issues and this could be the first full change that may have widespread effects on humanity. We learn a couple of interesting things about the plants this issue that may prove to be huge as time passes.
Speaking of the effects of trees on humanity, while the plants above seem to be more natural, what is happening in Somalia is not. Politics and more are coming into play here and the leader of the nation seems to have far grander ambitions than we may have initially suspected. While this part of the story could have global implications of an alien nature I strongly suspect it will just end up showcasing our sad old tale of war and death from fighting with ourselves. Seems like a good time as any for Ellis to focus on that with how much fighting is going on all over the world right now.
The series itself is still moving slow but the character development and world we are being presented is rich with ideas and ideals. I’m beginning to think I should have waited a year for this to be collected as a trade as I truly am hating how long I have to wait in between issues to see where the stories within are going.
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard