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Animal Man #17 – Review

ANIMAL MAN #17

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

The Story: Animal Man and Swamp Thing—reunited, and it feels so good.

The Review: The most disappointing thing about Rotworld has been the fact that at the end of the day, it’s another apocalyptic scenario with humanity on the brink of doom and a bunch of undead shambling around.  Granted, there’s plenty of stories that can be gleaned from that premise, but this title in particular hasn’t done much with it except feature a bunch of those shambling undead in superhero outfits.  Not quite the groundbreaking crossover we hoped for.

Another disappointment was the choice to separate Alec and Buddy, forcing them to find their way back to each other on their own.  Although Alec has accomplished a great deal during his time sojourning the world alone, Buddy, despite his company, has done little to help the war effort by comparison.  This series has already made it clear that Buddy, in the grand scheme of the Red, Green, and Rot, is really a second banana—but did they have to reduce him to sidekick in his own book?

That’s pretty much the feeling you get out of this issue, where Alec brings along an army of Robins and a whole mess of bio-restorative formula, pretty much the only stuff that has any permanent effect on the Rot.  Not only that, but he also drags along the one object that can turn the tide in their favor against Arcane.

What does Buddy get to do in all this?  Take down Rot-Flash.  Hurrah.  Meanwhile, it’s his companions who get some of the issue’s more thrilling moments.  Frankenstein equipped with a Green Lantern ring once again plays right into Lemire’s most gleeful fantasies, but we get only a couple panels to enjoy it before the story moves on to the plot at hand.  Steel taking control of Cyborg’s robotics is also a fun moment that never gets much of a chance to land.  Sadly, Beast Boy, Black Orchid, and Poison Ivy, actual agents of the Red and Green, don’t get a turn in the spotlight at all.

Altogether, the issue is basically one big battle, and that leaves little for a reviewer to talk about.  What’s there to analyze about a scene where Rot-Wonder Woman cuts off Frank’s hand?  All this ridiculousness just seems to be a way to kill time until we get to the big confrontation with Arcane at the end, where he reveals a pretty horrific, but rather predictable twist.  Let’s be honest, here: was anyone actually surprised to see the deformed figures of Abby and Maxine show up on the final page?  Really?

If you ask me, what Lemire-Snyder really needed was an artist specialized in the superhero genre, because that’s what this issue largely boils down to.  They really needed someone who can draw the hell out of a big, splashy action sequence and make every hack, slash, punch, and shot count.  Instead, they get Pugh, whose vision of Green Lantern constructs is utterly discouraging (see Medphyll’s fragile hook-chain—which somehow manages to encircle Rot-Cyborg without ever touching him).  They also get Green, whose storytelling skills leave much to be desired.  See Batgirl shooting Mr. Freeze’s gun at Rot-Superman, who simply explodes.*

Conclusion: When a hero becomes secondary in his own title, that’s never a good thing, and the art is ill-equipped to deal with the massive amounts of action taking place in the issue.

Grade: C+

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Even after rereading Swamp Thing’s explanation of how Mr. Freeze’s gun will help destroy Rot-Superman, I still don’t understand the pseudo-logic of it.  Anyone care to give it a shot?

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4 Responses

  1. I’m interested to see what Animal Man looks like after Rotworld. Lemire actually straight up admitted in a recent interview that it was a big mistake to let Rotworld drag on for so long and that the whole thing has been a learning experience. As a result, Animal Man will have short arcs going forward.

    • I think it was less about letting the story drag, and more about not doing enough with it that seemed particularly important or novel. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t mind a long arc if it kept you occupied the whole time.

  2. Great review. I stopped reading Animal Man at issue #10 because the Rotworld storyline was getting too tedious. I can’t believe it’s still dragging on. Lemire’s work seems to range from great to below average these days. I’m guessing he’s writing too many titles, and the quality is suffering on some of them.

    • I agree it’s a bit of a shame seeing a talented writer kind of languish on certain things, but it happens to the best. I don’t know if the current downturn is due to a strain in work, or editorial interference, or simply a good idea that didn’t quite pan out, but it is disappointing, regardless.

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