Review: Animal Man #4

Missing the reckless drug trips of your youth?  Then Travel Foreman is the artist for you.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Animal Man #4

As much as I enjoy continuity and the constant building of a character’s legacy on their history, I can also appreciate when that character is taken in a whole new direction. Take Animal Man, a B level character at best that is now one of the most exciting series that DC is putting out.  While still keeping a reasonable attachment to the old idea of Animal Man, this new direction takes the character and tosses it into a blender with the elements, darkness, light and what feels like strong hallucinogens.

When last we left Animal Man, he had journeyed into The Red, a twisted dimension built on the strength of living things. According to the ancient ones, Animal Man’s six-year-old daughter is the ultimate avatar, the one power than can stop The Rot from taking over the world. The Rot is the dark power of the dead, the twisted and vile make up of complete darkness. In Animal Man #4 we get to see the true power of Animal Man’s daughter when she steps in to defend her father against The Rot.

I love how writer Jeff Lemire sets up the scene with the daughter. The love of her father battling her fear of this new power culminates in a display that literally bounces off the page. Lemire is a master at creating dramatic tension and he nothing is filler. The scenes in Animal Man #4 involving his family on the run are just as important to the story as the work involving The Red and The Rot. In fact, as bizarre as the story within The Red is, the story with the family is much more disturbing because of how vulnerable Lemire makes them. They aren’t victims, the mother is hard as nails, they’re just in way over their head.

We get a lot of history here, details on what The Rot is and how it came about as well as the beginnings of Animal Man’s connection to the Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing series. Lemire never lets the multiple storylines get to him, everything rolls out easily and never gets convoluted.  I’m very interested to see how the connection to Swamp Thing plays out. Both of these series are the best thing going at DC and both have top notch writers so when they meet, it could be one the best crossovers in recent memory.

Travel Foreman. What the hell can I even say about the art from Travel Foreman? The man is absolute genius with a pencil. The art is constantly moving and I don’t mean with action. Each form that Foreman draws seems to vibrate with a living energy.  Part of it is how fluid the art is, part of it is Foreman’s panel placement and part is how big the sandbox is that Foreman has to play in. Lemire’s story is so well crafted that it leaves a real open ended arena for the art. Foreman can put anything on the page and it will work to tell the tale. It’s true synergy. Animal Man #4 continues the series’ impressive streak and sets it apart from the rest of the DC Universe.