It's been two months since the end of Rotworld, and Buddy's life is incredibly different. His son, Cliff, was killed, and Buddy's wife and other child, Maxine left Buddy. Now, Buddy is back to helping out the world.
With this issue alone, Maxine Baker has grown into a brilliant and lovable character. She gives us a glimmer of hope in this world. It's weird to say that his very young daughter is truly the only person trying their best to find a way to get Cliff back. She's willing to work with the Totems in order to get Cliff back while training to become the next Animal (Wo)Man. She's a character that's really going to take us away from how broken and sad Buddy's life has become. She is a delight in this book.
With Buddy, things aren't going as well, but the character is really striving to get himself out of the rut, only to find himself confronted with a terrifying enemy.
One element you see repeating throughout the issue is the "Twitter, but not really Twitter" feed. At first, I really liked how the book opened up with this, since Buddy is an actor and a celebrity. The concept began to wear on me, but I quickly fell in love with it during Buddy's fight with the new villain. It adds a lot to the book, and it's necessary for the ending of the issue.
As far as the new villain goes, this guy/lady/beast-thing is pretty cool. As the story develops, and before we're introduced to this character, we get to know what he is and a bit of his motives. Artist Steve Pugh's design is incredibly creepy, and I'm dying to see more, since we only get a few panels of it.
Pugh does an awesome job on this issue, as he has since he fully jumped on board with this book. I love his panel layouts, and there's a fantastic, but incredibly disturbing panel, towards the end of the issue, where Animal Man makes a startling discovery that is a wonderfully drawn page. The flow of his art is exceptional, especially in a few panels, like when Maxine heads off to the Red.
Writer Jeff Lemire continues to put together an incredibly moving and compelling book, month after month, and this book is actually pretty new reader friendly. For so long, ANIMAL MAN was tied up in Rotworld and it was hard to jump on. This new issue is the start of a new book, so if you have been waiting to read, now is your chance. Sure, there's a few points you need to know, like that Maxine is going to become the next Animal Man, and Buddy is dealing with his son's death, but overall, this should be a good place to jump in.
I don't have any complaints. This book has never been bad, but more recently I had become a tad less interested in it. This issue got me real excited for ANIMAL MAN again.
ANIMAL MAN #21 is an awesome start to a new story line. For song long, this book has been tied into a very long, but very good, storyline, Rotworld. Now, after the events of Rotworld, everything and everyone has changed, but something new has started. This is a great place for new readers to jump on, and they won't be disappointed.
Buddy is back to trying to be an everyday hero, in order to get his life back on track, and I really enjoy what Lemire is doing with this character and more importantly, with his family. Pugh's art is dynamite here as well. This is a book you need to read. It's a very different take on what we believe DC heroes to be.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue and series.