Sunday, July 28, 2013
Animal Man #12
"Rotworld: Prologue Part One"
Script Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder
Art Steve Pugh
Colors Lovern Kindzierski
Letters Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor Kate Stewart
Editor Joey Cavalieri
The cover is by Steve Pugh with Yanick Paquette and colored by Nathan Fairbairn. It's a typical cover you'd expect to see on a trade paperback or a poster, but it doesn't really do anything for me. And that might mostly be because I'm not a fan of Pugh's art. While it works perfectly for this story, I personally find it a bit off-putting. The kid taking pictures of the monsters with his phone was pretty funny, though.
The Rotworld story arc is a very long crossover between Animal Man and Swamp Thing. The Flash only makes a couple of cameos in a few Animal Man issues, but he's not really there, putting this story arc under my Passive Appearances category. Barry Allen himself does not show up in the flesh to do anything, but we see a couple of images of him and alternate (zombie) versions of the Flash. So what I'm basically saying is that I don't need to worry about when these stories happened chronologically. I do have to give a fair warning that I am not a fan of Animal Man. I guess he used to be kind of a goofy character, but then got revamped into this horror genre. I don't like to read horror comics — I prefer lighter, funner stories. Hopefully I'll be able to put aside my bias and see this story for what it is.
So our story begins in Louisiana with the Baker family. The dad, Buddy, is the Animal Man, who has the power to mimic the abilities of nearby animals. His son, Cliff, is sick, so he, his wife, Ellen, and his daughter, Maxine, venture into the swamp to seek help from the Swamp Thing himself.
They find Swamp Thing at a dark pool/portal that is surrounded by dead animals. Swamp Thing doesn't see why he should help them, so they tell their story and explain everything. Apparently the entire world is governed by three main forces: the Red, all animal life; the Green, all plant life; and the Rot, death and decay. Swamp Thing is the avatar of the Green, and while Buddy can tap into the Red, his daughter is the avatar. The avatar of the Rot is a man named Arcane, and he apparently is growing out of control and seeking to take over the world of the living, threatening the balance of all life.
Animal Man and his family had previously battled the Rot, and Cliff became infected in the fight. Therefore, Animal Man approached Swamp Thing to ask for his help, not just to heal his son, but to take the fight to the Rot to stop it once and for all. Maxine then sees visions of the future in the black pool. She is shown an apocalyptic world where the Rot has taken over and killed all the heroes, including the Flash.
Swamp Thing agrees to help them, and he and Animal Man leap into the pool. But something goes wrong. Cliff has no become full-on possessed by the Rot, and grotesque zombie animals emerge from the pool to attack Buddy's family.
Perfect prologue. I didn't know anything about Animal Man before this issue, and it explained everything perfectly. Yes, there was a lot of exposition, but it held my interest. Maybe those who had read the previous 11 issues of Animal Man would've been bored, but it works for those like me, who are coming in for the start of a big crossover event. After reading this issue, I now feel completely caught up to speed on who this hero is and what this big conflict is going to entail. If I felt so inclined, I could keep on reading the whole Rotworld story right from here and not miss a beat.
Haunting image of Flash. Very rarely will I enjoy a one-panel cameo of the Flash, but this one really worked for me. Out of all the dead heroes they could have shown in the vision, they only chose the Flash, and I think that was entirely intentional. The Flash is the symbol of hope in the Justice League, and the most unthinkable one to die. Superman has Kryptonite, Batman's just a man, and all the others seem to have logical weaknesses that could conceivably take them down. But the Flash? It would have to be something incredibly powerful to beat him. And once he dies, that really spells doom and gloom for the state of the world. One of my favorite Justice League cartoons was an alternate timeline where the Flash was killed by Lex Luthor, setting up a chain of events that turned the League into the Justice Lords. Yes, the Flash is that important.
Unsettling art. This art is not by any means bad art. It is very well done and is absolutely perfect for this horror story. I, however, cannot stand it. I don't like particularly graphic and grotesque images. I understand that's the point here, but I don't need to see people's spines getting ripped out of there bodies. Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder know how to write a good comic book, and they've put together a great horror story that really did scare me a bit. But I guess this comic is just a bit too scary for me. If you're interested in horror and the supernatural, and you can stomach violent, grotesque images, then I would highly recommend this story for you. I don't fall under that category, but I have to acknowledge a good comic book when I see one, and this is an excellent comic.
Final score: 6 out of 10
Next time: Animal Man #13