After being lost in The Rot in ‘Animal Man’ #12, Buddy Baker returns to Earth this issue only to find the world utterly changed. In the few hours that Buddy spent in The Rot, a full year has passed back on Earth and the creatures of The Rot have taken over the entire planet. Nearly every living creature on the planet has become a minion of The Rot. The only holdouts are people who had connections to either The Red or The Green.
As soon as Buddy arrives on Earth, he’s attacked by a rotted out Hawkman. He gets thoroughly crashed before a team consisting of Beast Boy, Black Orchid, and Steel (who survived by downloading his mind into a non-organic body). The heroes explain to Buddy what’s happened in the year that he was away. When they find out who Buddy is, they tell him that there is a holdout city of denizens of The Red and that he must go there.
On the way to the City of the Red, Buddy learns that everyone has fallen to The Rot, including almost all of Earth’s heroes. In the City, Buddy meets some of his old pals from The Red and learns the fate of his family.
Speaking of the Baker family, the scenes with Buddy in the Rotworld are interwoven with scenes of the family back on a pre-Rotworld Earth that shows what happened after Buddy and Swamp Thing leapt into the portal. Buddy’s son Cliff is still missing and his mother isn’t waiting around for Buddy to return. She sets out to bring back her son, even after a warning that a creature of The Rot is somewhere nearby.
This issue does what it intends and shocks the reader. Most of the shock comes from seeings the DC heroes transformed into mutated horrors. I never read ‘Marvel Zombies’ but I’m sure this must be a similar experience. Watching Hawkman and rest of the demonic heroes slaughtering one another is a very visceral experience. I can’t wait to see how the heroes of the Red and Green get their world out of this situation.
If there’s any complaint with this story is that I have to wonder where it fits in DC’s New 52 continuity. If the world has fallen into chaos and The Rot has won, why is this story no leaking over into every book in the DC universe? I guess time will tell.
ANIMAL MAN #13
Story by Jeff Lemire
Art by Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II, and Joseph Silver
Cover by Steve Pugh