Review: Animal Man #5 by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman, Steve Pugh & Jeff Huet

Animal Man #5

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Travel Foreman, Steve Pugh, & Jeff Huet
Coloring by Lovern 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

Summary (contains spoilers): Animal Man’s wife Ellen blasts the Hunter with a shotgun to try and rescue her son, Cliff. Animal Man, Maxine, and one of the avatars from the Red (in the form of a cat that Ellen has named Socks) are flying towards them. Socks is trying to convince them to just abandon Cliff and Ellen as they have bigger duties to deal with. Saving two lives at the expense of all life on Earth is a bad decision. Gotta love those charming avatars. In response, Buddy suggests:

The Hunter turns his attention to Ellen. Cliff manages to grab the shotgun and shoot the Hunter again, though it’s not having much of an effect. Like mother like son! Animal Man arrives, and starts to fight the Hunter, but the Hunter is  forces Animal Man’s body to start to get infected by The Rot.

And this isn’t even the most disturbing image in this comic!! Inside the Rot, Buddy sees Maxine bite his face off.  It;’s shown in very graphic detail.   I will spare the reader this image…but to be honest, it was pretty damn creepy and cool.  Buy this comic for that alone!

In order to try and help her father, Maxine summons all creatures nearby to attack the Hunter. But she quickly realizes this was a bad idea. As the creatures  bite the Hunter, they are all infected by the Rot, which quickly is able to use these animals to start spreading.  Buddy and the family get into grandma’s RV, and try to escape. Socks tells them that the Rot is going to start to spread through all life now, and the only way to stop it is to find Swamp Thing.

Review: My friend and editor Grey posted the follow comment about Animal Man which I think is the perfect description: “If I had nightmares then something tells me Animal Man would be the cause of all of them. This book is all kinds of fucked up.”

For me, seeing the Hunter declare “The Rot is In Everything, we have already won!” in issue 5 of this series was a little shocking.

Yeah, villains make those kind of declarations all the time, and in my jaded nature, I don’t take them all that seriously.  Ater all these years of reading comics, in my head, I know that it will all likely work out in the end.  Often, everything is back to status quo by the end of the same issue.

But when I read that panel, I really felt a lot of concern. And to me, that is truly the sign of a great piece of fiction: one that makes you ignore all the things you rationally know and immerse yourself in the danger these characters face. It’s especially cool when that character happens to be someone I don’t normally care that much about, like Animal Man.  That takes a talented creative team, and Animal Man definitely has that.

One thing I really thought worked great in this comic was Socks’ desire to put the safety of the world above that of Buddy’s family. Especially since in the end, because of their actions, The Rot was able to get a major foothold in the world. If Buddy and Maxine had listened to Socks, that might not have happened. This really created a great dynamic in this book, and I really hope that they play this up in the future.

The Swamp Thing reference at the end was a nice touch. It’s pretty inevitable that Buddy and Swamp Thing are going to have to come together at some point, but I suspect Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder are going string us along for a while on that. They both have done such a great job building up the intensity of the situation each issue.  It’s just too soon to start relieving that pressure now.

My biggest gripe about this book is an unfair one. The books in the New 52 Universe at times seem to be tightly linked, but at other times seem to take place on completely different worlds. Right now, we have the vampire invasion in I, Vampire, the world getting ripped apart in Justice League International, the moon was trying to eat the Earth in Stormwatch,  the Daemonite invasion which seems to be tied into a lot of books, and now The Rot is looking to destroy all life on Earth.

It just seems like a lot of global threats all going on at the same time should be getting in each other’s way. I would find it very amusing if the Daemonites end up encountering the Hunters Three.  I know I am being a little unfair. This kind of thing happens all the time in comics, but for some reason, it had been annoying me a bit about the New 52.

As always, Lemire and Foreman make a great team. Animal Man is a great journey through nightmares, and month in and out, it has been one of DC’s Relaunch’s most consistent and excellent titles. If my reviews of the first three issues haven’t convinced you to check it out, I doubt this one will change your mind, but I have to keep trying. Animal Man is awesome and deserves it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Final Score: 9.0 – Animal Man continues to be my most anticipated book of Relaunch. Great action and characterization wrapped around a story that constantly keeps me on the edge of my seat, drawn to absolute perfection by Travel Foreman.  BUY IT!

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