Animal Man #2
The second issue of the relaunched Animal Man takes everything I loved about the first issue and amplifies it. The tension in the Baker house, the disturbing new villains and the resounding echoes of Alan Moore's seminal Swamp Thing run are all present, and they're beautifully drawn.
I am a sucker for the old 'Berger books' that became Vertigo line, and Swamp Thing was my favourite of the bunch. Everything about this comic screams that Jeff Lemire feels the same, with Buddy Baker's family life being the human anchor that it hangs on. The story is moving along at a welcome pace, with plenty of chicken-hands or mutant hippos to set the scale of what's happening but really it's Buddy Baker and his lovable spooky daughter Maxine that are the driving force here. The tension between the normal and the abnormal here is presumably going to drive a lot of the story going forward and, until Grant Morrison appears to kill Ellen and the kids at least, Ihope that it's going to be as well written as this.
The art is scratchy yet detailed and Travel Foreman seems equally at home with a family in crisis as he does with body horror and abstract meat trees, which makes him an ideal fit for the title. While I'm naturally tempted to compare him to Totleben and Bisette, some of Gaiman's Sandman co-creators feel like a closer match; Vince Locke and Jill Thompson both spring most readily to mind. The muted colours, the almost omnipresent viscera and the bizarre scenes all work wonderfully well together and an artist I liked on The Immortal Iron Fist has become one I can see myself loving on Animal Man.
It's always nice to see such a well-regarded property handled with such love and skill, and if Animal Man can maintain this level of quality, then Animal Man might start getting some of the recognition of his old Vertigo peers.