Unlike most recent issues of this title, which have taken place pretty much equally in the real world and ‘the red’, this one is pretty much all in the real world, and it works really well. Buddy doesn’t know what Maxine is up to, and now, neither do we.
The only Maxine stuff here is that it’s still fucked up inside The Red, and now it’s raining blood. It’s also raining blood at the ‘we can’t call it the Oscars but it’s the Oscars’ award ceremony, as Buddy and Ellen head there to stop the cultists, save some celebrities and hopefully find a way to save Maxine. The chief cultist is doing some epic villain monologuing to some celebs, but Animal Man bursts in and saves them. Buddy has to use all sorts of animal abilities to gain an advantage, but actually, it looks like him winning might be part of their plan.
Meanwhile, back-stage, Ellen tries to help a scared actress, but in a clever twist, she’s part of the cult and betrays her! I think the idea that Brother Blood’s cult is a bit like Scientology in the DC Universe is a good one, and I think Jeff Lemire probably should have played it up more, although I understand why he didn’t, he doesn’t want to disappear in mysterious circumstances for criticising ‘The Church’. I also loved how Lemire revealed that Buddy had won the not-Oscar, by having Ellen use it as a weapon against a cultist, very cool and unexpected. Animal Man is tussling with the head cultist, who deliberately mentions Cliff to send Buddy over the edge, and Buddy really starts pummelling him, threatening to kill him.
As I mentioned, this is part of their plan, they want to die on TV and demonstrate their power. The other cult-members slit their own throats and somehow, their spirits fly off to the Red to join Brother Blood, and the fact that everyone saw them do it makes them more powerful (I think). The lead cultist is still goading Buddy to kill him, and in a dark, tiger-fuelled moment, he almost does so, but Ellen stops him. After this, Buddy and Ellen finally, truly reconcile, which was a really nice moment. Of course, it doesn’t last long, as for some reason, Buddy starts bugging out, and he teleports somewhere… not to The Red, but to Outer-Space? Where he’s attacked by tentacle aliens? What the fuck? This ending came out of nowhere, but I love that.
This was another great issue of Animal Man, and it was made even better by Rafael Albuqueque’s art, he’s one of my favourites right now, and I love that he’s doing this title, which even though it’s great, isn’t really one of DC’s A-Listers. Every page of this issue looked awesome, and whilst the way Albuquerque depicts Buddy’s animal powers is a little less experimental that what Travel Foreman was doing, it still works really well, and translates to exciting action scenes.