Saturday, June 2, 2012

Animal Man #9

Animal Man's covers suck.

Last issue ended with Animal Man killed by crows and other crazy Rot Animals. But it's not that easy to kill somebody that has access to the Life Web. He probably just allowed his essence to drift out of his body and across The Red. He'll figure out how to get a new body later.

Animal Man remembers the time he once dreamed about meeting Grant Morrison. Most of Buddy's life has always been very dream-like and crazy though, so I wonder how often he remembers something and believes that it was a dream? Like now. He's currently floating through the bloodstream of The Red. It's hard to tell exactly what's happening since comic books offer static panels. So he's either coming apart or being put back together. Or he's a tiny creature along with other dead animals floating through The Red which looks like a person coming apart. Or being put back together.

Whatever going on, Animal Man thinks it's weirder than meeting Grant Morrison. I doubt that's true even for someone who wasn't written by Grant.

Buddy's family are headed into Texas in search of The Swamp Thing. Now that Swamp Thing has taken care of The Rot (or at least put it down for the time being), maybe he can help destroy The Rot in The Red as well. And Swampy will probably end up fighting Rotten Buddy Baker.

Meanwhile, in the Bone Orchard, Buddy Baker is discovering that he is, indeed, dead.

What's wrong with being reincarnated as a slug? Don't judge, hater!

I wish Buddy wasn't connected to The Red. I wish he was connected to The Crayola Corporation. Then maybe some of the backgrounds in these panels would be worth looking at. I'm tired of all these red panels with the occasional bone or sinew piled about. Let's see something beautiful! I noticed Travel Foreman isn't doing the art on this issue. I wonder what happened to him? Maybe he had to go draw some really flat, boring backgrounds for the government.

On the road, Maxine wants to enter The Red to look for her dad since she's can't feel him anymore. And Socks the Cat thinks they should keep traveling east to find the Swamp Thing. But Ellen Baker has decided that they aren't going to do anything weird ever again! So I don't know where they think they're going if not to find Alec Holland.

And then The Rot finally makes some fucking sense!

Even in a comic book, a dead raccoon makes me sad.

This is what I've been bitching about in past commentaries of Animal Man and The Swamp Thing! The Rot needs The Red and The Green! They all need each other! Hopefully the things that have been making The Rot seem evil have simply been other beings using The Rot as their method of attacking people like Alec Holland and Buddy Baker. I'd much rather see The Rot as a third elemental form that protects the whole life process like the elementals for The Green and The Red. I don't know that that will happen. But it would be more interesting than playing The Rot off as evil.
But after Rotten Buddy enters The Rot, he meets up with his two other Rotten Brothers. They're big goal is still to take Maxine for their own. Perhaps their intentions shouldn't be categorized as evil though. Maybe they're just seeking to keep a better balance between the three. Perhaps Maxine will make The Red too powerful and The Rot would rather that they be more powerful. Except as I explained in Swamp Thing #9, the balance of power between the three will continually shift due to the relationship between the three! Even if The Red somehow becomes too powerful, it can't sustain itself. The Red feeds off of The Green and The Green feeds off of The Rot and The Rot feeds off of The Red (and The Green but more so The Red). The Red gains power and devours more of The Green. The Green runs low and The Red dies off, giving more power to The Rot. More Rot means more Green which can feed more Red! Cycles, bitches, cycles!

Back to Buddy Baker in The Red, the Shepherd of the Bone Orchard gives him a bit of a history lesson as they travel to see The Totems so that Buddy can get his body back. The creatures like The Shepherd were lesser servants to The Red. Not quite avatars like Buddy and Alec Holland are but more like Buddy Baker himself. When they died, they chose to serve The Red in other ways. But since Buddy needs to continue to help Maxine, he's probably needed more in a living body than serving in The Red, so I imagine he'll get his life back. But the Shepherd also mentions why Maxine is important.

This is making more and more sense all the time! Or it's at least making the kind of sense I wanted it to make!

It looks like the Avatars and the Lesser Servants of The Red, The Rot, and The Green are the metaphors for the three realms fighting for balance. And that means The Rot isn't evil. And I hope The Rot gets a non-evil avatar instead of relying on Sethe or The Rot Queen or William. I'd like one with a comic title of his own to match Swamp Thing and Animal Man. One with an Avatar that is trying to do good and keep the balance. Also, because the balance is a constant struggle, I imagine Alec and Buddy will have a few confrontations of their own.

And then back to the Baker Clan and their travels. And it looks like the thing they didn't know they were looking for that will help them out found them instead. And it goes by the name of John Constantine.

Yay! John Constantine can cure anything! Possible side effects include: death, second hand smoke, evisceration, demon attacks, apocalypses, and being called a wanker.

Animal Man #9 Rating: +1 Ranking. I think I've been wanting to enjoy Animal Man much more than I've actually been enjoying it. I've liked the Baker interactions and Buddy trying to keep his family together. But The Rot has just been bothering me. And I remember the old run in the nineties and just haven't been satisfied with this run. Until now. I'm really glad that Jeff Lemire has begun to portray The Rot a bit differently than the evil, out of control version in The Swamp Thing. Being out of control and needing balance restored is a great way to look at what's going on in The Swamp Thing. But with Sethe and William and The Queen of Rot all being portrayed so evilly, it just hasn't felt right. But Lemire looks like he's addressing this here! I was really happy to read the page where The Rot enters into the dead raccoon. That rang true to what is going on between these three realms battling for balance. And of course all three realms are going to vie for the upper position as long as they can, right? It's instinct! So a storyline that pits Alec against Buddy should be up and coming. And it should be great! It better be! I'm expecting a lot out of Snyder and Lemire.

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