In ‘Animal Man’ #10, Buddy Baker had finally made it across The Red and to the mysterious ancient Totems. The Totems revealed that Buddy couldn’t return to his body on Earth since it is now inhabited by a demon from The Rot. Instead, the Totems suggest an alternate plan… build Buddy an entirely new body!
The story this issue is told as two intertwining tales that converge in the finale. In one story, Buddy Baker’s new body is built within The Red and it is explained that his new body will be “more durable”. Back on Earth, the other tale follows Buddy’s son Cliff as he is meets with his “father” who is really the Rot demon wearing Buddy Baker’s old flesh.
Before we can discuss the stories and how they finally meet up, be warned that there will be spoilers.
In addition to the added durability of his new body, the creators within The Red also chose to give Buddy Baker “limited specie-shifting abilities”. What this equates to is that when Buddy uses his powers to accesses an animal’s abilities, his body will change to reflect the animal. For example, when he runs like a cheetah towards his son, his body gets more muscular and his face becomes feline. This makes for a lot of interesting visuals but it doesn’t really seem to give Buddy any new abilities that he didn’t already have. I expect that it will work out better from a writing point of view since Buddy doesn’t have to constantly narrate what animal powers he is using as we now just see it.
But back to the story, Buddy has a show down with the Rot creature in an attempt to save his son and the “Animal Man vs Animal Man” tagline from last issue is paid off. After Cliff is safe, the boy falls into some sort of trance and warns Buddy that the avatar of The Rot is coming and reveals his name. Readers of ‘Swamp Thing‘ will already know who this villain is and next issue, the Animal Man / Swamp Thing cross over finally begins.
ANIMAL MAN #11
Story by Jeff Lemire
Art by Steve Pugh
Cover by Steve Pugh