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Review: Animal Man #2 by Jeff Lemire & Travel Foreman

by on October 7, 2011

The one thing about this new DC Universe is that there are distinct and unexpected comic book pairs and groupings out there. Sometimes they are being written by the same writer, and other times they are operating very independently. It’s hard to see all of them at this time.

Teen Titans and Superboy – Connection through Project NOWHERE

Stormwatch and Demon Knights – flashback to Demon Knights in the pages of Stormwatch. (Also potential connection to Superman, but not sure)

Action Comics and Justice League – both are set in the past

Batman and Nightwing – Not sure about this, but Dick Grayson is set up to be a traitor in Batman, and Dick is called a killer in the pages of Nightwing.

Swamp Thing and Animal Man – Animal Man dealing with “The Red” the connection to the animals, and Swamp Thing dealing with “The Green” the connection to plants.

I wonder how many people are reading one, but not the other, especially as they are in the similar genre.

Animal Man #1: The Hunt Part Two: Maps
Story: Jeff Lemire | Art: Travel Foreman

Reviewed the digital copy of this comic book on comixology.com.

So in the last episode of Animal Man, Buddy Baker is a part-time superhero, part-time animal activist, and part time actor. He is called into stop a hostage situation, and he starts bleeding from his eyes. Later, Buddy has a dream about running away with his daughter Maxine from some demon creatures called The Hunters Three. When Buddy wakes up from his dream, he goes to the backyard where Maxine is playing with the reanimated corpses of animals.

Synopsis

  • When Buddy questions Maxine about her abilities, Buddy gets blood tattoos that cover his chest. Maxine says that the tattoos are a map to the Red Place.
  • A neighbor catches Cliff trying to hide the holes, and Maxine transforms the mans arm into a chicken. She turns it back afterwards.
  • Buddy and Maxine leave Ellen and Cliff to follow the tattoos on Buddy’s chest and the animals to find the Old Tree, where the use it to enter The Red.
  • At the San Diego Zoo, several of the hippos have distended stomachs as if they are pregnant, and something horrible happes.

Questions and Answers

  1. Why doesn’t Buddy feel any connection to the animal corpses?
  2. Why doesn’t Buddy’s son Cliff have a connection to the animals. His wife even mentions that they worried about Maxine, but why not Cliff?
  3. How did Maxine and Buddy find the Old Tree, and can the Hunters Three find it too.
  4. In the dream from the previous issue, the Hunters Three say they are Maxine’s true fathers, what does this mean?

Analysis

This series goes out of its way to present superheroism and horror plots that revolve around it would affect a nuclear family. It is a unique take that I can appreciate; however, feeding milk to a cat skeleton on the kitchen table really pushes the limits of that uniqueness. Now you’re just being creepy.

The young girl who has a connection and can see other world things is right from the Stephen King playbook. Not saying that it’s bad, I’m just saying

The neighbor who freaks out about having superhero freaks next door, is a little too Muggles versus Wizards, but it’s a solid enough plotline for the suburban living Bakers.

How can the Old Tree be the connection to the red. A tree should be part of The Green. Maybe they will talk about the connection in future episodes, but for now it is a major gap in logic I think.

Okay, I really didn’t like the way that Ellen turned on Buddy when he described taking Maxine and leaving to go find the tree. I’m not saying that Ellen couldn’t get mad, but it seemed very out-of-the blue. Like she should have been getting mad all along, if she was going to pull the “You don’t want to know what I’m thinking” card. Jeff Lemire is writing Ellen as a character whose emotions can turn at any moment. This makes it too easy to put her in the wet-blanket wife category than make her an interesting part of the overall story.

The scene where Maxine tells her brother what to do is really funny. And you can totally see a little sister pulling an attitude with her older brother.

The issue is really setting up the dynamic where it’s Buddy and Maxine on one side and Ellen and Cliff on the other. Interesting to have father-daughter and mother-son on the opposite sides. Kudos to the team for not going down the gender battle line.

How you enter mysterious worlds is always difficult to describe, whether it’s opening a wardrobe door, flying in a house over the rainbow, or following blood tattoos to find an old tree. I get that, but there’s no sense in the comic book of whether The Tree exists in a real place, whether it’s close to San Diego, whether they entered some inner space that exists everywhere.

And then the really ‘strange’ thing was that Buddy and Maxine follow some hidden path to find The Tree, and then touch it to enter another hidden place to enter The Red. To me it would be better to have The Tree be in plain sight, and then The Red is the place that is hidden.

I like the artwork of the book. It is rather unique, and plays around with some interesting shading. I’m not sure I would like it on every book, but it definitely works for Animal Man.

The book is pretty good, and makes me want to read more. I still think this would work better as a collected trade. But I didn’t like enough stuff this week to pick any other comics, so I was happy to read Animal Man #2

Verdict

Animal Man #2 was pretty good. I enjoyed myself, but I wanted there to be more progression of the plot line, rather than spinning its wheels where it is. I would imagine that issue #3 will pick up in that department. We shall see.

8.0 (Quite Good)

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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