Review: Animal Man #3 by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman

Animal Man #3

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Travel Foreman
Coloring by Lavern Kindzieski
:Lettering by: Jared K. Fletcher

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

It’s been a long time since I reviewed three issues of the same comic in a row, but I still had a lot to say about Animal Man, so I decided to give it another look this month.

Glad I did, as this was the best issue so far.

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue, Buddy and Maxine entered the Red. Buddy meets several other “Animal Men” of the past. Buddy quickly finds out that the Red was basically only using him to prepare him to be Maxine’s protector. She is the true Avatar of the Red, not Buddy.

It is suggested that the Red manipulated all the events that turned Buddy into Animal Man just so he would be prepared to help Maxine take on her role in the war to come against “The Other.” The same “The Other” that Swamp Thing is trying to prepare Alex Holland to deal with over in Swamp Thing.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Hunters Three have tracked down Buddy’s wife and son. The Hunters Three seem to be quickly using up their human bodies. One of them decides to go after Buddy’s wife and son, while the other two follow Buddy and Maxine into the Red.

Buddy’s wife and son are protected by Maxine’s ressurrected pets, giving them time to flee to a hotel. They call a police officer Buddy told he she can trust. But when the officer arrives at the hotel, he is consumed by the Hunter, who takes his identity.

Back in the Red, Buddy finds his powers tremendously amplified because of being in the Red, but the Hunters are still much more powerful than him. They take a big bite out of him, and seem ready to go after Maxine next.

Review: Once again, from page one Travel Foreman was giving me nightmares. When Maxie and Buddy enter the Red, Travel seems to take great delight in drawing a rather inside out Animal Man:

Foreman’s work on Animal Man reminds me a bit of Clive Barker’s art. There is a terrific nightmare quality to them, but also a great deal of beauty and truth to them. It’s fun to see that side of the mind explored, and Foreman really has done a lot of that in Animal Man.

I also love the many different forms of the Hunters Three.

I will admit freely, I wasn’t always sure exactly what I was looking at, but it always manages to creep my out and disturb me on a very deep level. And that really is what the best horror has always done for me. Clive Barker, Stephen King, Wes Craven, John Carpenter all take things that should be familiar to us and twist them until something unrecognizable…something that exists only in our nightmares.  And Foreman is definitely bringing that to the forefront in each panel he draws in Animal Man.

I also stand by my comments from last month, the Hunters Three seem insanely powerful. I have no idea how the Baker family survives this one. I assume Maxine will start getting a little DEM action going, but I still don’t think that’s enough. Well, okay, the logical part of my brain knows that the heroes will likely win out in the end, but I like to shut that part down when I am reading a good comic.

I don’t mean to give Travel Foreman all the credit here. Jeff Lemire is dealing with a lot of big ideas here, but makes them very easy to connect to. And we also see everything filtered through the eyes of a father looking to protect his family. Everything about Animal Man is very easy to relate to, even if it all seems outside the scope of our mundane experiences.

It also seems to have a dark sense of humor. Some of the scenes with the Hunters Three I laughed at…though I am still not sure if that was intended by Lemire and Foreman or that I am just a weird dude. Probably a little of both.

Probably more than any other Relaunch title, Animal Man has given itself a very clear identity and direction from issue 1, and each issue builds on that creating something pretty damn cool. Lemire and Foreman have really staked out their own piece of the DC Universe, and I really can’t wait to see where they take us next. Highly recommended.

Final Score: 9.0 – Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman up the stakes in this one. Animal Man is definitely one of the best books of Relaunch.

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