By: Matthew Rapier
When I first returned to comics on a weekly basis, I looked around for something outside of my normal liking of just straight-up superhero comics. In doing so I stumbled across a few trades of Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man. I was told these were very innovative ideas and themes at the time of release and when I finished reading them all I became hooked to this character. DC announced that Animal Man would be getting a brand new ongoing in the relaunch with writing duties handled by Jeff Lemire. I knew immediately he would bring exactly the right tone to this book from reading his original book Sweet Tooth. So far, it’s been my favorite DC Comic from the relaunch.
Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine have traveled into the Red, a strange life force they are both connected to with obscure creatures and a collection of beings called the Animal Men, at the center. As those two get acquainted with these mysterious beings, Buddy’s wife and son encounter three strange men who eventually shed their skins and bond to become one creature, eventually revealed as one of the Hunters Three.
Maxine reveals to her father that she is so familar with the Red from visiting it often in her dreams. The old animal men are known as Totems and Buddy Baker isn’t one of them as he had expected this whole time. Maxine is the one in their family who will become one of the Totems and help fight the war of life. The Totems announce that both the Red and the Green, (which is a central part of Swamp Thing) must prepare for the rot forming within. The other two creatures from the Hunters Three show up in the Red and try to attack Buddy and Maxine. Buddy morphs into a large, ape-like monster to try and fend off the threat.
Ellen Baker and her son narrowly escape the monster they were facing and she makes a call to Detective Krenshaw from the San Diego P.D. When he arrives to find out what’s happening the monster abduct him and rips the skin off to wear it as a disguise in order to get closer to Ellen and her son.
I really can’t compare another title that holds my attention the way Animal Man does. Jeff Lemire has a great talent of creating such bizarre concepts while keeping the family aspect of the Baker’s a central part of the story. The threats feel very real and I’m unsure if Buddy Baker is going to make it out of the Red alive. I can’t wait to see how this all connects with another of my favorite titles, Swamp Thing. Travel Foreman’s art could be seen as sloppy, but with what’s going on in this title he fits like a glove. He creates some really fantastic looking creatures and handles the scenes outside of the Red very well too.
It’s great to see Animal Man back as a central part of the DCU. It’s even better to have something feel so familiar to past stories, but with a freshness that keeps me guessing page after page. Animal Man is a strange book and certainly not one everyone will fully enjoy, but for those who do, there is no other title that could take it out of the top spot.
Overall Grade: 10/10