Give credit where credit is due. Writer Jeff Lemire has solidified Buddy Baker’s place in the New 52. Baker (Animal Man) has benefited from the relaunch as much as or if not more than any character in the new, more cohesive DC Universe. For that reason, Animal Man has risen to prominence and captivated readers.
Spinning out of Animal Man #9, Animal Man’s first Annual is stand-alone tale. It is a perfect companion piece to the ANIMAL MAN and SWAMP THING series, respectively. It details the history of the three elements of life: the Red, the Green, and the Rot.
As seen in the aforementioned on-going series, the Rot threatens the balance of life and has begun to plague the world with death and decay. These ever-warring elemental forces have begun to reveal themselves as having a major role in the history as well as the future of the DC Universe.
Lemire tells the tale of the Rot plaguing the Boreal Forest in Canada in 1894. The story focuses on farmer Jacob Mullin as he his selected as the avatar of the Red and in the course of this tale receives a vision of a dystopian vision of the future of the New 52. The yarn Lemire weaves is rife with parallelism. Mullin’s life and history strangely echoes that of Baker’s.
Artist Timothy Green II’s showcases his versatility. For a book that is deeply rooted in existential and surrealistic terror, his art is carefully yet masterfully rendered. He straddles a textured style and that of the most crispy-clean line work conceivable for capturing the Rot’s glorious grotesque gore.
This is a great example of a worthy Annual – an issue that enriches and adds to tapestry of an epic tale.