Animal Man #2 - 'The Hunt, Part Two: Maps' - Lemire and Foreman
Story - I wrote a review of Animal Man #1 for the 52apalooza, so I'm going to try and not repeat myself here. Luckily Jeff Lemire moves on the story enough that I'm not going to have to do that too much.
Picking up from last issue's shocking cliffhanger, in which it is revealed that Buddy Baker's daughter Maxine also has animal powers, but hers involve communicating with dead creatures, Lemire takes the reader on a crazy ride with lots of creepy imagery and a story that turns a lot of what we thought we knew about Animal Man upside down.
Buddy and Maxine's adventures are just beginning, but already Lemire is making them memorable, the image of all these half-decayed animals is a haunting one, as are Animal Man's new tattoos. Last issue had a memorable moment when Buddy started to bleed from his eyes, and here we find out that the bleeding was just a part of a bigger pattern, that Buddy is forming a map to the red on his chest. What is 'the red'? We don't know yet, but Maxine does, and she's the one in charge. It's cool to see Lemire develop Buddy Baker's kids, whenever I've read Animal Man stories before, his kids have just been there to get in danger and to have terrible haircuts, but Maxine has a purpose now, and it's fascinating to see. From the dream sequence in #1 it was implied that Maxine is dangerous and a possible villain, but in this issue her intentions seem altruistic. We shall see.
She certainly didn't seem too altruistic when she turned that dude's hand into a chicken foot! That was another freaky image, and helps to demonstrate that this book is not your traditional superhero comic, there's a deep vein of horror here, and it's cool to see Lemire take perhaps the most suburban superhero and show a dark underbelly beneath his powers and world. That same horror tone is shown in the appearance of the three new villains. They first appear in a gruesome splash of engorged, hippopotamuses, and then burst out, taking over some humans. These are horrifying monsters, and I can't wait to see what their plan is.
Animal Man #1 was one of my favourite books of the DC relaunch, and #2 continues the strong work established in that issue. Lemire is taking a character that could be considered lame and putting him in the middle of the kind of story you wouldn't expect Animal Man to be involved in. Horror and Animal Man shouldn't mix, but they do, and it's wonderfully creepy.
Oh yeah, and Buddy's real name is Bernhard? WTF?
Art - This book wouldn't really work without Travel Foreman's art, he has a very unique style, and it's just the right amount of weird that it's perfect for Lemire's blend of suburbia and creepy horror. All the shocking creepy images like the zombie animals, the chicken hand, the hippos, the monsters at the end, Foreman draws it all brilliantly. I also like his panel layouts a lot, there's a page where he shows Buddy and Maxine's journey to 'the red' and it's depicted in a really cool, off-beat way. Foreman may not be for everybody, but for this book? He's the man.
Best Line - '...into the red'