Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Arm yourself, folks. The Rot is here!
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II
Last month in “Animal Man”, which kicked off the Rotworld crossover with “Swamp Thing”, Buddy Baker and Swamp Thing journeyed to the root of the Rot to fight back, only to fall deeper and deeper and become separated. Buddy finds himself in a Rot-invested world one year into the future. His family is dead. Superheroes and villains alike have been consumed by the Rot. All that’s left is a handful of civilians and heroes John Constantine, Beast Boy, Steel, and Orchid.
“Animal Man #14” switches between the narrative of Buddy (one year into Rotworld) and his daughter Maxine (one year before). Beginning with Maxine, I found her story to be the most tragic. The Rot has taken over the bodies of her mother, grandmother, and brother. Her father hasn’t returned from entering the Rot.
As the champion of the Red, it is her duty to save the world. But aside from Socks, the totem cat of the Red that serves as her guardian, she is on her own. Poor Maxine has to either kill her family or run. Did I mention she’s only 4-years old? It’s difficult to imagine my own 5-year old cousin running around saving the world, but hey, that’s what Lemire gives us, which makes it all the more heartbreaking.
Though nothing much happens on Maxine’s end, the two pages dedicated to her helplessly sitting in the forest crying will make anyone’s heart wrench. Drawing out such an emotional reaction from us is what Lemire does best. Green’s close-ups of Maxine only intensify the effect. Both the writer and the artist capture what makes Maxine so amazing: she’s no ordinary 4-year old girl. She’s smart, cunning, and at the core of it all, she’s one strong kid.
Now over to Buddy. Buddy is confused and devastated, having been immediately thrown into a world of hell. Constantine believes if they can bring Buddy and Swamp Thing back together (wherever he may have landed), they’d have a fighting chance against the Rot. On Buddy’s end, we get a lot of action and an idea of what has happened in the past year. Then receiving some questionable news, Buddy and his new team embark on what can only be deemed as a suicide mission. While Buddy is the star of this title, I’d like to point out the well-written characterization of Constantine in this issue. He may act tough and cold on the outside, but he’s only doing what he does for the greater good, even if he doesn’t see eye to eye with Buddy.
In general, this was some terrific writing by Lemire and perfectly executed by Pugh’s and Green’s art. The twist at the end of Buddy’s narrative doesn’t compare to Maxine’s, but without spoiling I’ll just say one last word: bananas.
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.