By: Jeff Lemire (story), Steve Pugh (art), Timothy Green II (pencils), Joseph Silver (inks), Lovern Kindzierski (colors)

The Story: Buddy discovers his world can cross its overpopulation problems off the list.

The Review: One complaint everyone pretty much has about Events from either of the publishers, one I join wholeheartedly on, is how many titles they end up invading.  Sometimes—who am I kidding?—almost all the time, there’s no actual reason to squeeze them into the plot.  But you can’t deny that there’s no better way to give a storyline an epic, important feel.  When one title has a world-spanning conflict no other title notices, why should you do any different?

Such is the rock and hard place we have in Rotworld.  I’m rather charmed that Lemire and Scott Snyder continue to claim that this dystopia their stars have entered is anything more than an alternate reality, as if there’s even a chance none of this grimness will reverse course after several issues.  Can we truly believe that once this arc ends, we’ll have other heroes sitting around, reminiscing about the time Hawkman turned into a deformed, flesh-eating zombie?

I think that’s an issue I’ve had with the Rot as an antagonist from the beginning.  At some point, they ceased to be an imposing, abstract entity and downgraded to little better than Necromorphs (the Dead Space fans will know what I’m talking about; for the normal people, they’re basically and horrifically mutated flesh creatures who multiply by killing and “infecting” others).  As with the Black Lanterns, the odds of victory are mathematically impossible.  You’re alive and can be killed; they’re already dead and can’t be killed again.

That leaves room for Lemire to get Buddy out of this predicament in only one way: some elaborate twist of circumstance.  With any luck, Lemire will avoid anything resembling the “It was all a dream—a horrible, horrible dream” trick.  Given the losses thus far (and the insistence that Rotworld is the real Earth, not a parallel universe or the like), I really don’t know how Lemire can put everything back the way it was without narrative trickery, inspired or otherwise.

For one thing, I highly doubt that even Lemire has the guts to bump off the entire Baker family sans Buddy so flippantly, and make it permanent.  One of the editors on this site explained his growing distaste for superhero comics as proportionate to their increasing, over-the-top ridiculousness.  The snake-like exchange between Cliff (“Doesssn’t it taste good, Mommy?”) and Ellen (“Sssso sssssweet!”) doesn’t quite hit that level just yet, but it’s getting there.

Still, there are some ideas worth praising and mysteries worth exploring.  The idea that the Totems manifested themselves as physical structures to preserve the last living creatures on Earth does get across how desperate the situation in Rotworld is.  Black Orchid’s importance in all this also begs questions as to how she, though not clearly an avatar of the Red or Green, has managed to survive this long and with such extensive (pun, I guess?) powers?

The mix of Pugh and Green’s rather distinctive styles of art produces a rather uneven look for the issue.  Pugh, with rare exceptions, proves surprisingly capable of drawing superhero fare, albeit with a strong dash of horror in there.  Where he really excels is in the more fantastical designs, giving the Totem refuge both a beautiful and bleak look.  Green, on the other hand, has a looser, less consistent hand, which produces a less remarkable image and more melodramatic as well.  If the script comes close to that dreaded over-the-top quality, Green’s art pushes it even closer.

Conclusion: While the ambition of this storyline remains and with it a possibility to turn this arc towards a conclusion worthy of its hype, things seem less than impressive at present.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Shouldn’t Socks be chiming in at some point about how dangerous it is to have Maxine go out without any protection besides her all-too-human mother and grandma?

– I’m actually surprised Steel hasn’t figured out a way to transfer everyone’s consciousness into robots.  Seems like the most logical way to beat the undead to me.

– I only just now discovered that Ellen’s ma is named Mary.  Yay.