Friday, 3 February 2012

Review: Animal Man #6

Animal Man #6 By Lemire / Leon / Foreman

This issue shouldn't really work. For all intents and purposes, it is a fill in story, one not even set in mainstream D.C continuity (well, not really) Far from continuing with the main plot that has run through this rebooted titles opening five issues, Jeff Lemire changes tack here, delving into Buddy Baker's past career as an actor. The bulk of the issue is devoted to an independent film that Baker starred in, dealing with a defunct, alcoholic superhero called Red Thunder, who is forced to face up to the loss of both his family and his career. We do get a look in at Baker's current occupation at the issue's close, but it is very short and serves only to remind readers of what this title is really about.

Given how much I have been enjoying Lemire and Foreman's work on this series, it would have been easy to get annoyed at the somewhat inconsequential tale that is presented here. In reality it is quite the opposite - Lemire and fill in artist John Paul Leon have crafted possibly the most entertaining issue of the relaunched series yet. In the space of just seventeen pages, Lemire does a great job of introducing and fleshing out the downtrodden, figure of Chas, aka Red Thunder. His plight and eventual downfall carries a certain inevitability about it, but that makes it no less touching to see it played out. There are obvious and welcome parallels between Chas and Buddy Baker too, that give the story a pleasing and natural link to the rest of the series.

Both Lemire and John Paul Leon deserve praise too, for the cinematic style that they give this issue. Both Lemire's script and Leon's superb layouts give the story a distinctive style not often seen in comics. Leon's art is understated, but terrific all the same, and he is the perfect fit for the story. Both Lemire and Leon add a number of nice touches throughout, that manage to add the issues distinctive feel without coming across as forced or heavy handed.

This issue was a surprise piece of genius, and Lemire deserves praise for crafting an excellent done in one plot while also checking in on the titles main narrative. Red Thunder's story may not be the most complex or original, but it was perfectly told by Lemire and Leon, and is easily one of the finest single issues that I have read for a long time.


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