When we last left Buddy Baker (aka Animal Man), he and his daughter Maxine were inside the strange realm of The Red, and Buddy was fighting a losing battle against the three demons of The Rot. Back in the real world, Baker’s wife, Ellen, and son had unknowingly been abducted by one of the Rot demons in the guise of a family friend.
As this issue picks up, Maxine reveals even more undiscovered powers as she learns the extent of her control over The Red. After the altercation with the Rot demons is over, Maxine and Buddy talk to the emissaries of The Red who reveal a brief origin of the Rot creatures. In the end, one of The Red beings offers to leave The Red forever to assist in training Maxine for the coming battle against The Rot.
Meanwhile, Baker’s son, Cliff, makes a discovery about their supposed savior, who is really one of the Rot creatures in human form and it’s up to Ellen to save her son. Back at the Baker home, Buddy, Maxine, and their new partner Socks find some unsettling clues.
As exquisitely horrific as Jeff Lemire’s run on ‘Animal Man’ has been so far, I keep expecting the writer to make a misstep and turn this wonderful psychotic trip of a title into drivel. But Lemire is four issues in and he’s maintaining one of the most amazing and downright chilling comic book tales that I’ve read in a long time. Looking back over the past four issues, I feel as if Buddy Baker stepped down the rabbit hole in issue #1 and the result is a mature horror comic wonderland that may just go down as one of the best titles of the decade.
Lemire’s ghastly semi-superhero tale is supported with perfect artwork from Travel Foreman. In just a few issues, Foreman has proven himself a master at horror artwork and, with Lemire’s script, has provided at least one image in every single issue of ‘Animal Man’ so far that I won’t be able to wash out of my psyche for a long long time.
If you’re at all squeamish about gore or supernatural horror, avoid ‘Animal Man’ like the plague. Otherwise, I can’t stress this enough… Buy. This. Book.
ANIMAL MAN #4
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art and Cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN