Storytime With Socks
So, this cover isn't too stellar. Oh sure the art is great and all, but the whole thing is just WAY too stiff. There's no sense of movement or dynamism.
But the interior art has no such problem! I'm torn on whether I think Timothy Green II should've replaced Travel Foreman on interiors instead of Steve Pugh. Green certainly has a style closer to Foreman than Pugh does. His minimal use of shading really works wonders for the similarities. Sure he draws Maxine's head a little too big, but other than that he had a lot of the same excellent energy. Well, stuff was less creepy and disturbing, a little more cartoony, but only a sliver. His art was excellent for this.
The nature of this as an Annual leaves me with mixed feelings. Any current Animal Man readers NEEDS to get this, it's got the same excellent character focused writing, and really expands on the mythos Animal Man and Swamp Thing are building. What the past's Swamp Thing tells the past's Animal Man is something that will definitely shock some readers, though the amount of sense it makes means you might see it coming, but in a good way. Plus it sets up a possible far future crossover again between the two with its inception of the idea that The Red or The Green could become villains just as easily as The Rot has. My money would be on The Green considering how The Parliament of Trees keeps telling Alec that The Red sucks and The Totems keep telling Buddy that he needs to seek out Swamp Thing.
But its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Are most comic readers willing to shell out $5 for this side story? It's certainly good enough, though it feels almost the length of a normal issue. It's probably a story that would've taken up two issues normally, and by the end I was completely satisfied, didn't feel like the story was too short; but I kind of forgot it was an Annual considering how long it FELT. But do I regret my purchase? HELL NO! But it's key to the mythos.
In Conclusion: 4.5/5
The whole scene with Buddy Baker didn't make a lot of sense, and the fact that the old Animal Man also called his daughter 'Little Wing' seemed pretty forced; but overall this was another excellent Animal Man story by Jeff Lemire. It lacked the full usual 'zazz' that this series normally has, but overall it was extremely solid, great from start to finish. Can Socks have his own ongoing please? I'm really starting to love the little guy XD