slowing down the pack
To be honest, Animal Man to me seems to be in a bit of a slump. The gore and horror seems to have been rather significantly reduced, and honestly things seem to be going a little slow compared to the first 5 issues of greatness Jeff Lemire has been writing thus far. I think the reason for this is the approaching departure of Travel Foreman, or rather, his motives behind it. from my understanding, He recently had a death in the family, and he feels uncomfortable continuing to draw a story with such heavy and dark family themes, which is perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, it seems that his last few issues on the book have decided to tone it down while he's still here, and in fact Foreman only draws a few pages of this book, and it's mostly parts that don't deal with the inner turmoil of the Baker family, which is the focus of this issue.
Does that make this book "bad" though? Not by a long shot. This book focuses heavily on the interactions between the members of the baker family, and it really shows us what feels like a "real" family. Everything from the frustrations Ellen is feeling when hearing her kids and husband argue, to Cliff's growing resentment of his father, to Buddy's fights with his wife and kids as well as his efforts to be a good father and husband all feel like something that could happen in the real world. The strength of this series has always been the way it treats it's hero as a person, not a mask. It's a story about how this man deals with his family when his super-human life encroaches on it, not how a hero deals with his crime fighting life when his family gets involved, in which there is a key difference. Unfortunately,this issue is harmed by a slow pacing whose only pay-off (besides some great family drama) is with yet another glimpse from Buddy into what might happen in the future, which we've seen several times before (also, was that supposed to be John Constantine in the future, or Buddy? or someone else? I couldn't really tell).
The art in this issue was okay. Steve Pugh pencils most of this issue, and his art is similar to Travel Foreman, but lacks the grotesque charm of his predecessor. And that is disappointing, because at this point I feel animal man can only return to form when Foreman finally goes, but his art played a huge role in what made this book great, so it's a big catch 22. Only time will tell, I guess, but Lemire is still the great writer he is, so I still have high hopes for it.