Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Timothy Green II
Publisher: DC Comics
Whoa. That was a bit more…intestinal than I was expecting. I haven’t read any Animal Man up to this point, so Animal Man Annual #1 seemed like a good place to jump on board. And it is. It succinctly explains what this world is about and the conflict that’s engulfing it, giving new readers a chance to feel like they understand what’s going on before moving forward with the Animal Man series. Just be warned, there’s a lot of intestines in here, and as that implies, lots of bloody messes as well.
So apparently Animal Man is all about the circle of life. The red (which would be flesh and animals), the green (meaning plants and stuff and represented by a guest expository appearance by Swamp Thing) and the rot, are all held in check by each other, and whenever one of them becomes more voracious than it should, the other two rise up to keep it in check. In this instance, the rot is getting out of hand, and it’s up to the red and the green to keep it from consuming the world. However, this conflict is far from pretty. As the name implies, the rot isn’t pretty. It literally causes everything it touches to rot and decay with rather gory results, and battling it also often results in a lot of mess. I also find the whole “balance” thing rather amusing. Many feel that the same is true of good and evil; that they are in balance with each other and one needs the other to exist. Well, the Bible presents a different view; good and evil are not equal and opposite nor do they need each other to exist. One day, evil will be done away with entirely, just as it was in the beginning, and all that will remain and thrive is righteousness.
Another statement I found interesting in Animal Man was when a couple characters were discussing just how many people have died in the battle with the rot. “No battle worth fighting ever comes without a cost,” says one. “Well, I still think it’s sad,” says the other. It’s true that battles worth fighting come with a cost, and no one knows that better than God. The cost to him for redeeming humanity and defeating evil was nothing less than his only son. Jesus died on the cross to destroy sin and rose from the dead to defeat death. The victory’s already been won; it’s only a matter of time before evil realizes it’s over once and for all. Still, the battle was costly, and it was and often still is rather sad as some still seem to prefer the rot of sin rather than the light of redemption.
If you’ve been curious about Animal Man and what everyone’s been raving about, this is a good issue to dip your toe in. You’ll get a solid grasp on what this world is all about, and what’s at stake. You may not get much insight into the current characters or the current storyline in the main series, but this introduction will at least help keep you from feeling totally lost. However, it is a rather bloody and at times disgusting read; not for the squeamish. Yet, there’s an intriguing idea here with plenty to unpack when it comes to spiritual significance.
Score: 5 of 7
A BIG thanks to Astro-Zombies for providing the material for this review. Learn more about them at astrozombies.com.