Last month’s ish of Animal Man was probably the biggest shock of the DC relaunch, and hands down, one of the best new books. Lemire’s talent shines through once again to bring us an exceedingly disturbing tale about Buddy Baker’s life as a superhero that people don’t seem to take seriously. Now that his family is involved in the mess of things, it seems he will have no choice but to revert back to his A-Man uni and give in to the mysterious force known as “The Red”. The first issue was a wonderful introduction to the character, horrifying, and had one of the best cliffhanger endings of the year. Foreman’s distinctive art style only adds to the genius and terror of the book. Lemire and Foreman’s modernized vision of Animal Man is everything we need in contemporary comics. Read on for the skinny…
“Maxine’s new abilities continue to terrify Ellen and Buddy Baker, and things take a turn for the worse as Buddy begins a startling transformation of his own that will lead him on a journey into the heart of The Red. Meanwhile, The Hunters Three arrive on Earth and set their sights on the Baker family. The Hunt is on as DC’s most surprising new series continues to take ANIMAL MAN in shocking new directions.”
The thing I liked most about Animal Man was that new readers didn’t have to know the entire history of the character and all about Morrison’s infamous run. Lemire set the issue up perfectly with a full-page news style article before the comic began that explained everything a newbie would need to know about Buddy Baker and his family. Then it jumped right into the disturbing and dark imagery and didn’t let go of your throat until the final page (seriously, this one will give you nightmares).
You can tell that Lemire loved writing this one (who wouldn’t?). The family drama pops right out of the pages and you can tell that Lemire really has an attachment to the characters. The dynamics between mom and dad, sister and brother are all there and are impressively executed. I can’t wait to see the family ties that develop and become all the more dramatic as the series progresses.
What else? I’ll tell you what else! From the get-go this is a horror story. When Buddy Baker turns toward the reader and his eyes are running rivers of blood, you know you’re in for a gruesome story, not for the faint of heart (losers). This book could have easily been turned into one of the campier books of the New 52, but Lemire works his magic to ensure it is as dreadful as possible. The black and white dream sequence nearing the end of the issue was daunting, and it gave a sense of dread to the essence known as ‘The Red’ (Yes, it ties into the Swamp Thing ‘Green’). Then the final page hit and I lost my shit. I don’t want to give anything away in case you haven’t read it, but it’s deeply ominous and kind of aroused me (yep, I went there).
The art. Not much needs to be said other than it’s f*cking brilliant. Foreman’s style is not just unique and easy to spot, it’s new, refreshing, cool, edgy, and fits perfectly with the themes of the book. Characters are simultaneously heavily detailed and drifting into the surroundings. Foreman’s work is like no other comic artist and it should not be played down. Foreman has an equal hand in making this superhero horror family drama story as good as it is.
Issue #2 promises to explore the issues that arose at the end of the book as well as explain A-Man’s own struggles as a hero. As ‘The Red’ and The Hunters Three encroach on the lives of the Baker family, A-Man will no doubt be facing some scary foes. They look oddly like the Eraserhead baby, which is enough to make any sane person smash they head against a wall.
Animal Man is as much an intelligent superhero book as it is a horror story, and this is a rare treat in modern comics. It’s hard to maintain a balance of two genres that don’t always mix well but Lemire and Foreman are paving the way. Though Animal Man is only two issues deep, I have a feeling it will be one that will go down in the history books. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m so tremendously stoked for this series that I barely know what to do with myself. I want to run outside and yell at the top of my lungs while doing cartwheels into piles of garbage…but that would wake my neighbors, they’d probably call the police, and somehow I feel like “But the new Animal Man comic just came out” is not an excuse they would swallow. Just please, do me a personal favor and read it before I go more insane than I already am (hehehe).