DC Comics first wave of New 52 annuals have arrived with one of the most noteworthy releases being the Animal Man Annual #1. Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Timothy Green II, Animal Man is perfect in the fact that it stands on its own while giving us a glimpse of what lies ahead for the book’s title character.
The majority of the book focuses on the war between the three elements: the Red, the Green, and the Rot. Lemire begins the story with Animal Man’s daughter Maxine and the former avatar of the Red Socks (the cat we can’t help but love) going into the forest so he can take a tinkle. Given Maxine’s new role as the chosen avatar of the Red (aka the protector) she begins to inquire about the history of the elements. Lemire takes this opportunity to flesh out the significance of these elements and how the Rot has evolved into the threat they now face. It’s through this history lesson that we’re reminded of the fact that the Rot isn’t necessarily evil by default, but needs to be kept in balance with the other elements.
Lemire takes us to Ottawa, Canada circa 1894 where we are introduced to the proto-Animal Man Jacob Mullin. It is here when Mullin joins a band of individuals who begin investigating the initial spread of the Rot. Lemire manages to show us several similarities between Mullin and Baker, particularly Buddy Bakers own first encounter with the Rot. It is through Mullin’s story that we see our first appearance of Swamp Thing in the Animal Man series, albeit not Alec Hollands character. Instead, we are introduced to the character of Jack, an earlier avatar of the Green who explains to Mullin (and the reader) the symbiotic relationship between all the elements and what horrors may come should one outweigh the other. Given that this is the last issue to be released before the highly anticipated crossover between Animal Man and Alec Holland’s Swamp Thing, Lemire makes a strong point at filling in all the holes and answering all the questions that readers of both titles may have before the crossover begins.
The eerily beautiful art by Timothy Green II continues the aesthetic that we’ve come to associate with the Animal Man series, first established by Travel Foreman. His artwork is the perfect companion to Lemire’s surreal storytelling with its stringy lines and distorted features. Those who have come to appreciate the gore in Animal Man are sure to enjoy this double sized issue of flying heads and spilt guts.
The Animal Man Annual #1 is a great read for fans of the ongoing series and does the best job it can at prepping readers for the upcoming crossover with Swamp Thing.
- contributed by Laura Borrelli