With only a few issues left of this series, every issue has an epic feeling of finality, and, along with Rafael Albuquerque’s excellent art, it really is bringing it as we reach the end.
Most of the action here takes place inside The Red, but there is some ‘real world’ stuff too, as Ellen responds to the hectoring of paparazzi and reporters by punching one of them right in the face. This was a very satisfying moment, as press intrusion on Buddy and his family has been a big part of the last year or so of Lemire’s story, and it was great to see one of the Bakers get some revenge. Unfortunately, it did lead to the reporter pressing charges and Ellen getting arrested. You win some you lose some.
Inside The Red, Buddy is taking the fight to the King Of Limbs, and he reveals that, thanks to The Bridgewalker (who is apparently female, who could tell?), Animal Man is now more powerful than ever, as he can expand his powers and take them from alien animals. Buddy transforms into a giant horned lion gorilla, which is kind of awesome, and takes the fight to the big bad.
At the same time, Shepherd and his warriors have been backed into a corner. With Brother Blood and the Splinterfolk coming their way, the only option left is for Maxine and Socks to hide in the tunnels and try and make their way to the very edge of The Red. Maxine doesn’t want to go there, because she might lose her chance to bring back Cliff, which leads to an emotional moment where Socks tells her that there never was a chance to bring her brother back. I liked that Lemire had Socks realise he was too harsh here, and how it reminded him, and the readers, that Maxine is a lot younger than she acts. Unfortunately, for some reason, following the tunnels has brought Maxine and Socks right back to where they entered, and they come across Brother Blood’s attack on Shepherd, which ends with Shepherd getting killed.
Things are looking bleak for the Baker family right now, Ellen is in prison, Buddy is trapped in a fight against the King Of Limbs, unable to get to his daughter, who is at the mercy of Brother Blood. It’s dark now, but I can’t wait to see how Lemire is going to write his way out of this and give everyone a happy ending. That’s if there’s going to be a happy ending, there has to be a reason for Animal Man to move to Canada, perhaps it’s because the rest of his family are killed? I somehow doubt that, but you never know (I actually do know, as at a recent Convention, I saw some of Albuquerque’s pages for future issues).
As I said up top, Albuquerque’s artwork was great, even though he’s not going to have a long run here, it’s certainly been an impactful one, and he’s been a great choice to illustrate these last few big issues.