Comic Vine Review

15 Comments

Animal Man #19 - The Funeral Review

5

The Baker family deals with the loss of their son, Cliff, and Buddy has a bone to pick with the Totems of the Red.

The Good

Following the aftermath of ANIMAL MAN #18, the Baker family deals with the death of their son, Cliff, who sacrificed himself to help end the Rots' reign of terror and turning Earth into Rotworld. Problems between Ellen and Buddy arise, and Buddy heads to the Red to try and talk to the Totems.

What an incredibly sad and emotional issue. We've seen a lot of death in comics in the past few months, and I feel like this issue deals with the aftermath appropriately. We get to see these characters grieve and just be humans, for once. The funeral scene is pretty hard to get through. It's a very realistic scene. It's tough to see so much taken from the Bakers, and then watch Ellen and Buddy go at it. How much more can this man take? He's saved the world, but in turn, the world just craps on him. This issue is written so well by Jeff Lemire. It's one of those few issues that got me teary-eyed.

Toward the end of this issue, as Buddy makes his was to the Red and tries to talk to the Totems, we finally find out who's really in control here. In earlier issues, it seemed like the Totems and Buddy were a part of a partnership, but here, we get to learn that the Totems aren't as passive and friendly as they seem, and we get a nice surprise ending.

This is Steven Pugh's best issue yet. The art is very clean and crisp here. In this issue, Pugh works with colorist Lovern Kindzierski (who also did the cover), and they compliment each other incredibly well. The third page featuring Buddy and Ellen grieving in their own way is incredibly beautiful, and I love the inking in here. It adds so much to the page and the grief these characters are going through.

One really small thing I loved is that there is a shot of Cliff's gravestone, and there are some leaves floating by. Two of the leaves cover up the years Cliff was born and died. I find that this doesn't date the book, so future readers can pick it up and not be distracted with when this originally came out.

The Bad

I had one small problem with one line of dialogue where Buddy tells the totems they know where they can shove their rules. It's a tad cheesy, and while Buddy is very angry and in a lot of pain, I found that one line to be pretty bad.

Also, the issue isn't new reader friendly. In fact, this book hasn't been very inviting to new readers since issue #1. It's be the same story line for the past #19 issues, and while #20 will be starting a new adventure for Buddy, which could in turn make it a bit easier for new readers to jump on, so much has happened to this character and his family to make it easily accessible.

The Verdict

What a fantastic issue! ANIMAL MAN #19 does a great job at wrapping up the aftermath of the Rotworld story arc. Lemire does a fantastic job telling this tale and bringing some emotional reality to the book. As far as art goes, this is my favorite issue with Pugh on the book. He really hit it out of the park here. My only problems with the issue is that it's not really new reader friendly and one line of dialogue rubbed me the wrong way.

Aside from all that, I'm very interested in where this book is going, after the later events of this issue. This book is going to have a bit of a change. It seems it will be moving more towards a super-hero book than anything else, which will bring in some new readers.

Overall, I highly recommend this issue.

15 Comments
Posted by jwalser3

I can't wait to pick this up!

Edited by doordoor123

I'm kind of disappointed that the relationship between Ellen and Buddy ended. I thought this book truly showcased how relationships and families COULD work in comics, but that idea is thrown out in this.

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

While I agree it was a good issue, I think the story-telling elements of it were terrible.

Posted by Zeeguy91

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

Is it okay that I'm sick of people constantly saying that these techniques are just an example of lazy story-telling? Just because a writer chooses to kill off a character or break up a couple does not mean that he's being a lazy writer. If anything, the fact that Lemire is choosing to break up Ellen and Buddy (for the time being because I seriously doubt they'll be apart for good) is very true to the situation. Many couples actually do break up after the loss of a child because of the emotional damage it causes to them, even if they do still love each other. Plus, for many issues before Rotworld, Lemire was dropping hints that Ellen was beginning to feel the stresses of what it meant to be married to a superhero. To me, the whole break-up felt very organic and true to what a real-world couple would do if they went through something like this.

Posted by inferiorego

I'm kind of disappointed that the relationship between Ellen and Buddy ended. I thought this book truly showcased how relationships and families COULD work in comics, but that idea is thrown out in this.

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

While I agree it was a good issue, I think the story-telling elements of it were terrible.

I'll agree with you that some of these elements are way over-used, but most of the time, the writer fails to do it well. The scenes with the family before and during the funeral play out incredibly well and very real. Sure, the idea of Ellen leaving seems like it's out of left field, but she's not in a normal state of mind. She lost a child. Rational decision making is a bit out the window. At least that's how I see it.

Also, as I said on the podcast, I think this issue would have been received a lot better if Damien didn't die the week prior. It feels like over-kill (pun intended) with all the sidekick death.

Staff
Edited by doordoor123

@doordoor123 said:

I'm kind of disappointed that the relationship between Ellen and Buddy ended. I thought this book truly showcased how relationships and families COULD work in comics, but that idea is thrown out in this.

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

While I agree it was a good issue, I think the story-telling elements of it were terrible.

I'll agree with you that some of these elements are way over-used, but most of the time, the writer fails to do it well. The scenes with the family before and during the funeral play out incredibly well and very real. Sure, the idea of Ellen leaving seems like it's out of left field, but she's not in a normal state of mind. She lost a child. Rational decision making is a bit out the window. At least that's how I see it.

Also, as I said on the podcast, I think this issue would have been received a lot better if Damien didn't die the week prior. It feels like over-kill (pun intended) with all the sidekick death.

Yeah, I remember you saying that. I try not to take other stories into account, but I can see what you mean.

I don't think deaths are a bad thing at all as a plot-device, but if it is done, It should be done well. This is only after Lemire's first arc. There are TONS of things he could have done plot-twist wise -- even to shake things up. There is still a TON of mystery around this book. Instead of going to any of that, he chose to play the relationship dynamics. Something like that in a book like this should have been concrete. Like how Batman can't operate out of Gotham. If Lemire was truly going for that kind of book, he should have at least tried to stick with it.

That said, it could have easily been editorial.

Posted by inferiorego

That said, it could have easily been editorial.

With all the things we've been hearing about recently, sounds like a possibility.

Staff
Posted by doordoor123

@zeeguy91 said:

@doordoor123 said:

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

Is it okay that I'm sick of people constantly saying that these techniques are just an example of lazy story-telling? Just because a writer chooses to kill off a character or break up a couple does not mean that he's being a lazy writer. If anything, the fact that Lemire is choosing to break up Ellen and Buddy (for the time being because I seriously doubt they'll be apart for good) is very true to the situation. Many couples actually do break up after the loss of a child because of the emotional damage it causes to them, even if they do still love each other. Plus, for many issues before Rotworld, Lemire was dropping hints that Ellen was beginning to feel the stresses of what it meant to be married to a superhero. To me, the whole break-up felt very organic and true to what a real-world couple would do if they went through something like this.

I agree. I also thought it felt organic and natural. I had no problem with the way it was handled. The problem I have is that it happened at all.

And yes, it is lazy story-telling. He has an acting career that could have changed his life, the red, his children's lives (without killing anyone), and the beyond (things we don't know about the family). Maybe a past that we don't know come back to haunt them. Maybe even a change of perception. There was so much more that could have been done.

He has only really done ONE story. Killing the family after that one story only shows that families can't work in comics. And I really wish that stigma would have ended with this story.

Posted by manwithoutshame

5 stars if you enjoy intense funerals! Why is this comic such a downer? I liked Animal Man when he was fun...

Posted by CrashBang

I appreciate when writers take the time to let their characters mourn and suffer. I was really worried that when Cliff and Robin died, everyone would just up and move on. The more they mourn, the more relatable and human they become.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

another great animal issue.

Edited by longbowhunter

Damn Steve Pugh killed on this book this month. I've been enjoying his work since Travel Foreman left but this is a whole new level. Probably the best issue of Animal Man since the Rot arc first started.

Posted by DustinStauffer

@zeeguy91 said:

@doordoor123 said:

Between that last death and now this, I am losing faith in Lemire's story-telling ability. It is just looking like lazy writing now. Did he do it well? The death: no, but the break-up: yes. The after-math of the death was also done well, but the ideas behind it are terrible. I'm very disappointed. He clearly ran out of ideas. Breaking up a family, a relationship, moving through time or killing a character are the three laziest story-telling techniques. There are circumstances where it is okay to use lazy story-telling techniques, but this is just not the way to do it.

Is it okay that I'm sick of people constantly saying that these techniques are just an example of lazy story-telling? Just because a writer chooses to kill off a character or break up a couple does not mean that he's being a lazy writer. If anything, the fact that Lemire is choosing to break up Ellen and Buddy (for the time being because I seriously doubt they'll be apart for good) is very true to the situation. Many couples actually do break up after the loss of a child because of the emotional damage it causes to them, even if they do still love each other. Plus, for many issues before Rotworld, Lemire was dropping hints that Ellen was beginning to feel the stresses of what it meant to be married to a superhero. To me, the whole break-up felt very organic and true to what a real-world couple would do if they went through something like this.

I agree. I also thought it felt organic and natural. I had no problem with the way it was handled. The problem I have is that it happened at all.

And yes, it is lazy story-telling. He has an acting career that could have changed his life, the red, his children's lives (without killing anyone), and the beyond (things we don't know about the family). Maybe a past that we don't know come back to haunt them. Maybe even a change of perception. There was so much more that could have been done.

He has only really done ONE story. Killing the family after that one story only shows that families can't work in comics. And I really wish that stigma would have ended with this story.

It doesn't mean they are broken up forever. She said they are done, but it doesn't mean they are done forever just because Cliff is dead and she left. Honestly I don't really see that happening long term. He's probably going to exploring/playing with the stress it causes on his family life (more-so than when the rot was trying to kill Maxine). I've never agreed with the statement that killing someone is lazy. A lot of people that I see make that argument in other comics is because they have some affinity for the character so they are distraught because they are dead. Having everyone live and go off and live their merry lives is pretty boring.

Edited by DustinStauffer

I enjoyed the issue and felt this got back to the "roots" from the early part of the book before Buddy went of to fight the rot in Rot World. Not complaining about Rot World, but this one got back to the family dynamic. While this time it is pushing the family to a breaking point, there is still much to be explored in that area.

Posted by Mezmero

Loved this issue. I know people felt more impact from Damian's death but to me this story feels more organic. While Cliff might not have been as likeable he felt like a real boy with real virtues and flaws while Damian was a test tube baby born not from Bruce Wayne but rather from Morrison's madness. This book continues to be one of my favorite DC comics and I'm ready to see Buddy be a straight up super hero since all the Rot World stuff is done with.

Edited by JSAVen

Im sure sooner or later, Cliff will be back. Buddy and his family are eternal .