Saturday, December 10, 2011

Animal Man #4

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Company: DC Comics

Mainstream superhero comics hardly seem the right place for horror in most instances. It's a great genre, and has been used well at times, but it has a way of upsetting the balance and quickly slaps the cuffs on any of the spandex adventuring that typically takes center stage. With Animal Man however, Jeff Lemire has found an odd balance that drives an 18 wheeler packed with mutated nitroglycerin through said formula and never looks back. The subsequent explosion of genre bending material has an enjoyment factor that is set so high with every issue that a part of me thinks that there has to be an issue that takes a step back or pauses for a breather. The thing is, such an instance hasn't happened yet, and really, that is a great thing.

While there is plenty to talk about story with this issue, let's first talk about the visuals that inhabit the pages. The creepy and the horrifying and haunting is often times hard to nail down from panel to panel. People like Guy Davis, Tom Mandrake, and Kyle Hotz are artists that instantly spring to mind that nail that sort of thing with consistency. I don't think it ever would have entered my mind that Travel Foreman would be one of those guys. To me, he was the go to action guy. The guy you wanted when martial arts were the stories bread and butter. With his work on Animal Man, he has quickly changed my mind on that. The creatures that have sprung from his mind to page are so eek inducing, so menacing and malicious, that I can easily see them haunting people's dreams.

Also, his storytelling ability is so strong in general. The way his characters move and emote reminds me in some respects of what you would find in Japanese Manga, with its high level of expressiveness and energy. The way he finds balance between Buddy and his daughter in the Red and the abnormality involved to the "quieter" scenes with Buddy's wife and son running for their lives is striking.

With some of the New DC 52, pacing has become a real problem. Some have a plodding or disjointed feel to them while others blaze by with rocket propulsion speeds and are started and finished within the blink of an eye. Animal Man is not either kind. The pacing is right on target as Lemire packs his story with enough things that you really feel as though you're getting your money's worth. The history of what Animal Man is tackled, as are the ties between this and Swamp Thing, which are definitely made more apparent with this issue. Another thing that really makes the issue something more is the relationship between Buddy and his daughter. The role that is being set up for her is a thing that you want to see more of as there's an essence of classic comic to it. Yes, there is horror going on, but you are also getting that burgeoning superhero storyline within the confines of that genre, which makes the whole experience unique.

So yes, Animal Man is a horrifyingly awesome tale of good versus evil, a classic grudge match expertly planned and implemented by two talented creators. I highly recommend checking it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment