ANIMAL MAN 16 is smack dab in the middle of the current story line: Rot World. So far, it's a story that's a bit out there, but it's incredibly good. In this issue, Buddy, along with his group, head to the Deadlands to take on Arcane and end the Rot. Back in present day, Maxine is betrayed by William Arcane and hand delivered to to Rot. She has to make the decision whether or not to surrender to the Rot in order to save her family.
The Maxine part of this story is fantastic. Maxine is young and naive, and she'll believe anything anyone says to her. She's too trusting, and because of this, she's trapped by the Rot as she watches her family under their control. Timothy Green II does the art on these pages, and I like his style here, compared to Steve Pugh's work on the rest of the book, which is just as good. The contrasting styles work well and it's a great indicator to the reader that the story is jumping back and forth through time.
The final page of this issue is a bit of a jaw dropper, and not because something shocking happens. We come to the realization that this idea of fighting the Rot, which has already spread and corrupted all of Earth, may be even bigger than that, and this will not be an easy or even a winnable fight for Buddy and crew.
This issue will give you an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, more so than any other comic I've ever read. At this point, in this story line, the only way out, which isn't one at all, is for everyone to die. I can't of anyway for these characters to get out of this jam, but that's why I really like Jeff Lemire's writing. He has a plan, and it's hopefully going to be amazing and mind blowing.
The book is an up and down roller coaster. I find that it jumps from slow scenes to fantastic scenes. I felt the pacing was a bit off for this issue.
Obviously, this is not a good jumping on point. I know I shouldn't have to say that because it's part 4 of this story, but this is a book that everyone should give a shot. Buy the first trade. You won't regret it.
ANIMAL MAN is a consistently amazing title, and Rotworld is one of the most interesting stories currently going on. Although this book has two different artists on it, the difference in styles works extremely well with the story telling. This issue shows no light at the end of the tunnel, and I love it. I'm so excited to see where it goes next, and the final page is pretty awesome.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.