At the end of ‘Animal Man’ #4, Buddy Baker (Animal Man) was racing to save his wife and son who had been attacked by the demonic creatures of The Rot. This issue opens as Buddy’s wife, Ellen, is fighting to protect her son Cliff from one of the Rot demons. Meanwhile, Buddy, with his daughter Maxine and Socks (a spirit of The Red in the form of a housecat) are flying to the rescue.

Buddy, Maxine, and Socks arrive on the scene and Buddy rushes into action using his animal powers to give Ellen and Cliff a chance to escape The Rot. However, it quickly becomes clear that Buddy is outmatched by The Rot and it falls to Maxine to save her father using her newfound powers as emissary of The Red. As Buddy is being psychologically tortured by The Rot, Maxine concocts an impromptu rescue that ends up making this much worse. As the story closes, it seems as if the inevitable crossover with ‘Swamp Thing’ is coming much sooner than I anticipated.

‘Animal Man’, with its story about The Red vs The Rot is the counterpart to ‘Swamp Thing’ where the same thing is happening with The Green facing The Rot elsewhere. That their two worlds are about to collide should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been reading my reviews on these two titles thus far. I predicted that they were related after their second issues hit.

But, rest assured… you don’t have to be reading ‘Swamp Thing’ (even though it’s an amazing title and you should) to understand what’s going on here in ‘Animal Man’. Over the first five issues of ‘Animal Man’, writer Jeff Lemire (‘Sweet Tooth’) has delivered one of the most horrifying and enthralling tales to hit comics in a long long while.

The artwork from Travel Foreman is the icing on the cake for Lemire’s ghastly tale. Some of the images on the pages of ‘Animal Man’ have been so powerfully dreadful that I have made it my habit to avoid reading any previews or even of flipping the pages of each new issue. That allows me to feel the full impact of some of the plot twists and shocks with a fresh look as Lemire intended.

Don’t be turned off by the fact that Animal Man is a superhero. That’s a mere technicality as ‘Animal Man’ is a horror book about a superhero rather than the other way around. If you’re a fan of horror, you owe it to yourself to read this book!

Verdict: Buy

Written by JEFF LEMIRE