Entrails and bloody eyes doesn't equal good horror...
Unlike most, I wasn't the biggest fan of Jeff Lemire's "Animal Man" #1. I thought the story unraveled in the second half and Travel Foreman's art was erratic. Yet it still held enough intrigue to keep me on board for another issue. Now issue #2 has arrived and one thing has been made crystal clear - Lemire's Animal Man isn't for me.
The story in issue #2 doesn't fall apart at the end like the first book. That being said, it also doesn't start of as strong as the first book. This issue begins with Buddy and Ellen finding young Maxine playing with the remains of dead animals from around the neighborhood. As it turns out these animals are alive, jumping around, playing, and turning over garbage. This caught me by surprise because of how unclear the first issue's final page was. I thought she was playing with carcasses when actually she has reanimated them with her own apparent powers. Meanwhile a map to the "Red Place" forms on Buddy's body and Animal Man's true threat reveals itself through the stomachs of three hippos at the San Diego Zoo.
Does it sound weird and off the wall? Trust me it is. Now I understand that this kind of thing is right up some reader's alley but it just doesn't work for me. Lemire seems to be spending more energy trying to be disturbing and macabre than creating a well crafted story. I found nothing creepy or chilling about this issue and the slight bit of mystery and intrigue from the first issue was all but missing here. Even though it briefly tried, it didn't have the tender, genuine family moments of the first book nor do we get to see him use his unique set of powers. Overall this was just a weird and borderline goofy story that never maintained my interest. At the end of the book I simply didn't care.
Then you have Travel Foreman's art. In some ways it isn't nearly as erratic as the first issue. But that doesn't mean this is a beautifully drawn book. Again, I understand many people like this hyper-stylistic approach to comic art but it didn't work for me on any level. It did nothing to enhance the reading experience and in many ways it hindered it. I still don't find Foreman's characters attractive and several panels were simply hard to decipher. It's just page after page featuring a peculiar art style that I found thoroughly distracting and almost flat out ugly.
"Animal Man" #2 pretty much sealed the deal for me and this series. I'm sure this issue will get plenty of praise from the fans of the first book but it just didn't click for me. I have nothing against horror books or wacky stories. But Lemire's vision of creepy and mine clash. Entrails and bleeding eyes don't automatically equal good horror and neither does "Animal Man".