Welcome to Rotworld!
Animal Man #13
Jeff Lemire kicks off the event we have been teased about with more of a whimper than a bang. This isn’t to say that the issue isn’t good, but it just seems to be lacking something.
Lemire reveals his new world as much to Buddy as he does to us readers. Buddy is playing catch-up after being dumped into this nightmarish future. This is a realm filled with Rot infested heroes, where unlikely characters band together to defend the last of The Red. Lemire excels in setting up this new world and manages to deliver a few character moments whilst depicting the savage efficiency of the enemy. However such world building does have some down sides. This clearly reads like the first instalment of a story, which isn’t a bad thing but means that the book has a lot of exposition and there is a feeling that the narrative needs to get to a certain point before this issue ends. Therefore there is a certain pace to the plot, but this speed sacrifices some much need character context. Buddy is only given a handful of panels to react to this new situation and for the first time the title doesn’t manage to truly balance its plot and character work.
Due to all the plot work being done here the heroes of this future who are introduced are little more than exposition pieces. The cast Lemire has picked are interesting in their own right and should make for solid characters in coming months. But for now they are slaves to the first instalment set-up. Lemire however does use flashbacks to break up the book. Focusing on the Baker family is a good idea as it allows Lemire to inject more character work, whilst showing the inevitable and horrific fate of Ellen and the kids. With the hindsight that comes from seeing Buddy in Rotworld, we know what will happen to his family but there is still room for upset as we don’t know the circumstances and the cliffhanger ending is gripping.
What does wholly work this issue is Steve Pugh’s art. He goes to town creating a macabre nightmare of a world that is almost too real. Each panel brings to life a new horror in this doomed Rotworld. His interpretation of Hawkman is breathtakingly sinister and is easily the most memorable visual of the book. The double page splash depicting the fall of the world is a close second. Pugh has created a specific tone for the narrative and married with Lemire’s ideas he has created a world befitting Th Rot’s gruesome nature. However Pugh is not alone this issue as the Baker family scenes are handled by Timothy Green II. Green’s work contrasts with Pugh’s well. There is a look of normalcy to his art that allows us to not just visually distinguish each time period, but it also lower our guard so that when the grotesque occurs we are surprised.
So, with two artists that compliment each other and make this issue a feast for the eyes, Animal Man at least looks the part. However with such a focus on set-up the book is lacking that spark it usually has. But the world building is done now and the potential is here for an impressive event story.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Beautiful art and solid world building.||Lack of character work the title is accustomed to.|
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