Buddy Baker faces off against intergalactic beings in Animal Man #26!
The ending to the previous installment of Animal Man left readers confused via a very questionable twist. That twist is expanded in this month’s issue of Animal Man, where Buddy Baker is teleported to a strange alien planet. Disconnected from his power source of the Red, Buddy finds himself in a battlefield that hampers him from saving his daughter, Maxine, back on Earth.
Rafael Albuquerque takes a break from art duties on Animal Man this month, and Cully Hamner steps in. Hamner draws a very graphic depiction of the Animal Man title. He uses a wealth of blood and gore that has been displayed in the series before, but with a natural style that makes the experience feel new.
Hamner is also given the freedom to draw aliens that all vary in appearance and attitude. Each alien is unique and although grotesque, somehow beautiful in the portrayal. Hamner’s emotional detail also shines through in the issue, delivering moving and almost desperate scenes that involve Buddy and his love for his family.
Jeff Lemire announced the ending of Animal Man with the release of the 29th issue this coming March. His story is winding down and it’s almost obvious that this month’s Animal Man was purposely written for the final conclusion. As a result, the overall mood of the issue is somber. Although the story hasn’t staggered in the action portion of the book, the writing feels a bit rushed. Animal Man is coming to a close and this issue bleeds that from both the writing and the artwork.
This issue feels forced. If Animal Man’s self-titled book is coming to an end, the culmination of the greatest parts of the story should be in full focus for a phenomenal end. However, it seems more like an ending of creativity. Animal Man #26 feels like the first step in a shortage of ideas. Once the writer runs out of ideas—or has simply finished telling his or her story—it makes sense for another creative team to pick it up and continue, but Jeff Lemire has chosen to end Animal Man and include Buddy Baker in another series of his. Because of this, the issue reads as a flat spiral into a finale that may disappoint more so than inspire.
It is sad to see this title nearing its demise, but it’s been quite successful from the inception of the New 52 up to now. Jeff Lemire has crafted a truly memorable experience in understanding both Buddy Baker and his family. It is a shame that the ending is beginning to feel rushed and anti-climactic.
Animal Man #26 is the precursor to the finale of the series. Although its storytelling structure is daring, the overall tone of the book falls a bit short. The artwork is superb and well detailed throughout the issue but is pulled back by the strange shift in the story. Over the next three months we will see Lemire end the Animal Man series, but hopefully on a memorable and more satisfying note than this issue.