Sunday, June 23, 2013

Olivia's Pick of the Week: Animal Man #21

Animal Man #21
written by: Jeff Lemire
art by: Steve Pugh

Animal Man is dealing with a nomination for his film: Tights. I really enjoyed the reactions people were having to a.) the nomination and b.) the fact that Animal Man hasn't been seen in public for quite some time. He is still dealing with the grief from losing his son, after all. The comments made about him felt very genuine because they ranged from supporters of Animal Man to condescending haters. Interspersed is the news about animals that have gone missing. This is important as later on Animal Man, in efforts to come out of his grief, will do something pro-active in his life and try to help find these missing animals. Not only is there Cliff's death, the nomination for Tights, but Ellen, his wife, moved out and took their daughter, Maxine, with them.

Ellen is unsure how to handle Maxine. Maxine is going the under-cover super-hero route as she has essentially taken over being Animal Man from her father. But all that business makes Ellen upset which is why she has to hide it from her. Maxine's still talking to Socks and she's hell-bent on finding and bringing back her brother, Cliff. She can feel with her powers connected to the Red that Cliff's soul is still out there somewhere. It's sweet how she clings to that, but I can't help but feel unsure about what her efforts will bring about, as I remember back to the very early issues where Maxine first discovers her powers and brings her dead and now skeletal pets back to life. I can't imagine this ordeal will go about smoothly.

Maxine makes a deal with the Totems of the Red. She will learn from them and be their new avatar (only at night) and they will help her find her brother.

Animal Man eventually comes face to face with the man/creature that has been stealing all the animals around town. The guy kind of reminds me of Anton Arcane or one of his rot monsters. He's just so freakish and huge. He'd been performing cruel surgeries on the animals he stole. In the blink of an eye, he disappears, though. Animal Man has finally been sighted and is bombarded with fans, paparazzi, and the like.

I like the combination of issues that are being addressed. Animal Man's world may have stopped for a  moment but the rest of the world keeps right on turning. I enjoy his brooding so much more than I enjoy Batman brooding over the loss of his son Damian, where he's punching people out and screaming his head off like a maniac.

The art is done well, too. It compliments the story. This was a fantastic issue. You have to follow the story from issue one to get a clear sense of the complexities of the characters, but even so... This was good.

-O.Pelaez

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