After taking a break from the ‘real world’ story last month for a check-up on ‘Red Thunder’, Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man returns to the depressing life of Buddy Baker, and while it is dark, it’s still very good, and really, when the main character’s son has just died, I think a bit of darkness is acceptable. Buddy has been drowning his sorrows in booze, but he decides to try and get back in the superhero game by investigating a series of mysterious pet-nappings.
The climax of these investigations was interesting for two reasons, the first was for what Animal Man actually found, a bunch of animal cadavers and a terrifying looking hybrid monster dude. Seriously, this new villain looks absolutely disgusting and disturbing. The second thing that made this interesting was that Animal Man’s attempts to chase down this freak were interrupted by the Media. This series has always dealt with Animal Man’s role as a hero with a media profile in the background, but this storyline seems to be bringing it right to the forefront. This whole issue was full of whatever the DC Universe equivalent of Tweets are, commenting on the action. I’ve found aping social media to be an effective technique in other titles such as The Unwritten and Lemire proves to be good at it here too, there were some very accurate and very funny takes on particular websites and types of web-user here.
The other plotline here involves Maxine, who has embraced her identity as ‘Animal Girl’ and is inside The Red to try and bring Cliff back to life. This is an intriguing storyline, but I’m glad it’s taking a back-seat to Buddy’s story, he’s been reacting to massive worldwide threats throughout this whole series and it’s good to see him being proactive and acting on his own, without cosmic guidance. It was effective also how different artists were used for the Buddy and Maxine scenes, Portela’s cartoony style fits with a 5 year-old character, who would see The Red as a candyland, and Steve Pugh’s darker stuff is perfect for what Animal Man is going through.