Review: Animal Man #9 by Jeff Lemire & Steve Pugh

Animal Man #9
Extinction is Forever Part 1 – The Bone Orchard

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Steve Pugh
Coloring by: Lovern Kindzierski
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

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): So, last issue ended with Animal Man getting killed by animals under the control of The Rot, and his body taken over by one of the Hunters Three. This issue starts with his spirit ending up in the Red where he tries to find some help, wandering through what the Red call “The Bone Orchard.” He meets someone called the Shepherd. No…not the Mass Effect guy.

Animal Man is demanding to see the totems, but the Shepherd says no, until he realizes that Buddy is the father of the new avatar.

The Shepherd agrees to be his guide, and starts a long journey to the totems, taking him past a massive island of Rot in the middle of the Red.

Back in reality, The Hunter that has taken over Animal Man’s body seems to be enjoying himself as he track Animal Man’s family down. He seems to be planning to try and trick the family into thinking he’s Animal Man and then spring his trap. Similar to what he did as a cop in an earlier issue. The other Hunters tell him that won’t work, and that Maxine is too powerful to fight on Earth. They need to lure her into the Rot.

Meanwhile, Animal Man’s wife and kids are running away from the Rot with his mother-in-law. They don’t know that Animal Man has “died,” and there is a lot of great character moments between Ellen and her mother, exploring what it’s like to be in the orbit of a superhero…especially one as strange as Animal Man:

Their daughter Maxine starts to cry, telling Ellen that she can’t feel her father out there any more. The cat traveling with them is trying to convince them to seek out Swamp Thing, promising that the world will end if she doesn’t:

They arrive at a hotel, and John Constantine is there saying that they need to have a chat. Next issue promises the arrival of the Justice League Dark.

Review: I loved that this comic started with Animal Man reflecting on meeting Grant Morrison when Morrison was writing the comic. His description of Grant Morrison cracked me up “He was this skinny, intense Scottish guy.” If you have ever met Grant Morrison, it is an apt description. Grant Morrison NEEDS to play Lex Luther!

Aside from name dropping Morrison, the opening really helps to establish the strange “dreamlike” nature of the Red and Animal Man’s existence of a comic character. It was a really nice touch.

Any scene with Ellen and her mother were great. There was a lot of great honest emotion in this issue showing how tough the superhero life is on the people around the hero. You can easily replace “superhero” with police officer, soldier, or fire fighter.  You definitely get the sense that Ellen is lying to herself in the idea that things can ever go back to being normal. When Maxine tells her, “I can’t feel daddy anymore,” I actually choked up a little.

I do worry that this comic is getting a little repetitive though. Animal Man’s journey through the Red seemed like scenes we have already seen a few times in both this series and Swamp Thing. I also thought that when the Hunter was going to pretend to be Animal Man to get close to the family. Don’t get me wrong, I still like this comic a lot, I just think that after 9 issues, it is a shame that often it seems to be spinning it’s wheels. It just seems like by now, much more should have happened.

I thought I was going to miss Travel Foreman’s art, which had really helped define Animal Man to me, but Steve Pugh picked up right where Foreman left off. Animal Man’s art is still incredible visceral. The image of Animal Man turned inside out inside the Red was a pretty good indication that Animal Man was in good hands.

Animal Man still is one of my favorite titles from the New 52, and there is no chance of me not eagerly snapping up each issue as soon as it comes out. I think I am just anxiously awaiting the long awaited crossover with Swamp Thing. It just seems like nine issues in, it should have happened already. Guess we need to wait for Animal Man Annual…which will cost 5 dollars. ::groan::

Final Score: 8.0 – I am a little worried about the pacing of Animal Man, but it’s still a terrific series. It just feels like more should be happening at times.

Tags: , , ,