The Red is torn apart in Animal Man #23. Can Maxine, Socks, and Animal Man stop Brother Blood?
The Splinterfolk have carried out their plan from Animal Man #22 and the results are horrifying, but in a good way.
Although the nature of the Red and Animal Man are being pushed to their very boundaries, it makes for unmistakably brilliant storytelling. Jeff Lemire teeters with the fabric of Buddy’s psyche and its impact on the world around him. Animal Man is forced with incredible decisions that would be hard for even a sane man to bear, and Buddy Baker is on the verge of insanity.
Lemire takes the story into an interesting path. Everything has fallen to pieces around Buddy and the Red needs him more than ever. Brother Blood is attempting to infiltrate the Red and make it his own. He feels robbed of the idea of not being selected to be the Avatar of the Red as Animal Man has, and with Buddy’s blood, his terrifying vision can become a reality. Although Brother Blood may feel a bit out of place in this comic, he redeems himself by the end and it will leave the reader excited for what will happen next in the world of Animal Man.
The artwork remains a staple of the comic. Steve Pugh and Francis Portela have created a memorable new land in the Red and a delightful cast of pirates from Maxine’s mind. Although the subject matter is meant to be taken seriously, you can’t help but chuckle at a Parrot dressed as a pirate dawning a long and curly red beard. It doesn’t take anything away from the story and it makes things entertaining and creative as the comic progresses.
The highlight of the issue, if it wasn’t obvious from the cover art, is Brother Blood. He had a guest appearance on Teen Titans but he wasn’t as villainous as you would expect. That should be disregarded and this comic should be considered the real introduction to Brother Blood in the New 52. He is drawn in a very Dracula-esque way and looks haunting in every panel that he inhabits. Towards the end things get erratic and massive repercussions are in store for Brother Blood, Animal Man, and the world of the living.
Although Brother Blood carries this entire issue on his vicious shoulders, the comic isn’t without its problems. The arc started off very strong and gruesome with the introduction of the Splinterfolk, however; they haven’t really done anything since the beginning. They hideously dismembered animals to dawn their appearance in a similar fashion to Arcane in Rotworld, and delivered the key to the Red to Brother Blood. But now that their ‘purpose’ has been served, they appear out of place in this world. In order for the Splinterfolk to stand out, they need to have a greater impression on Animal Man or they will fall behind the massive shadow of Brother Blood.
Lemire continues his stellar arc on the Animal Man series. With the introduction of Brother Blood, the Red will feel his wrath for comics well past this arc. Rafael Albuquerque takes over artwork duties with Animal Man #24 and the creative team left him in very good standing to make something special.