ANIMAL MAN #16

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

The Story: This time, the Green Lanterns are really going green.

The Review: I generally don’t approve of internet speculation about the whys and wherefores of publishing or writing decisions, but I do love trying to predict what’s coming up next in a story.  With the former, my belief is unless you have a firsthand account of the business, you really have no basis for your theories.  With the latter, your basis is the story itself, as well as the vast ocean of comic book continuity that serves, in legal terms, as both evidence and precedent.

So I was mightily impressed by Ghost of Mars’ theory on my last review of Animal Man that the Lantern trapped beneath Metropolis was Driq of Criq.  For one, I just had to give props for Ghost’s knowledge of the Green Lantern mythos, and for another, considering Driq’s undead nature, it made a lot of sense for the story.  In fact, I could’ve been fairly disappointed by another choice of Lantern, had Lemire not used an even better one.

Medphyll not only matches Driq in terms of pure obscurity, he has an even stronger reason to be here in this particular title.  According to the ol’ Wiki—and lord knows where I’d be in this biz without it—Medphyll has actually appeared in the Swamp Thing canon once before, so between that and his intimate connection to plant life, Lemire made an incredibly appropriate choice.

Like his compatriot, Scott Snyder, Lemire spends this issue really going wild with mixing and matching different toys in the DCU sandbox together.  If you ever as a kid took your Transformers, G.I. Joes, and stuffed animals from the penny arcade, and concocted a story that somehow involved all of them, you may recognize the delight that radiates from watching Blackbriar Thorn attack Animal Man, Steel, Medphyll, Constantine, Beast Boy, and Black Orchid.  It’s just plain fun, although it does deviate sharply away from the series’ horror vibe.  And it sure beats the endless parade of Rot-infested superheroes, which I find rather dull now.

The only time we really return to that vibe is in the Maxine flashbacks, which prove as grim as the ones with Abby over in Swamp Thing.  I don’t know how set in stone the events here will turn out be, but once Buddy find out about them, it will hurt big-time.  Alec and Abby are adults, independent, and avatars; when they made the decision to fight their own battles against the Rot, it was mutual and intelligent.  Maxine is a child and the rest of her family are purely mortal; Buddy leaving them, even for what he considered the best course of action, was tantamount to abandonment.  There’s a burden of guilt on Buddy that Alec does not fully share.

To tell the truth, I’ve always felt Pugh’s art merely sufficed for Lemire’s needs when the story mostly involved drama-driven scenes and fairly uncomplicated bursts of action.  But here, where you have mystical wood-giants versus various superheroes in the Metropolis underground, Pugh’s work looks stiff, boring, even slightly confusing.  Green’s work I’ve almost always shot down for its sloppy, corny look and almost complete lack of tension.  Kindzierski’s funky colors punch things up a little bit, but the foundation proves too jittery for a paint job to cover up.

Conclusion: The ideas are good, the execution less so, and the art only hampers things further.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I don’t often attack comics for their logic—that would just be opening the floodgates for total disillusionment—but it just doesn’t make sense that the Rotlings would have such “difficulty with metal” that Medphyll can “hide” his power battery in the Daily Planet globe for that long.  If the Rotlings can bring down a whole city, which is largely made of metal, what’s to stop them from breaking apart a fancy piece of décor?

– I’m assuming once the Hunters Three released Ellen, her mom, and Cliff, they just infested them again after they got to Maxine.  Or can we expect Buddy’s family to appear soon in this post-Rot apocalypse?

Grade

Conclusion