Lots going on in this issue. The Splinterfolk have Buddy's blood and bring it to Brother Blood, who thinks he's the rightful heir to the Red. Maxine goes on a journey in order to find Cliff's soul in hopes she can bring him back to the land of the living.
After going through the Rotworld story line, most folks couldn't image a villain as threatening as the Rot or Arcane, but issue #23 of ANIMAL MAN gives the reader maybe not a character as world threatening (yet) as the Rot or Arcane, but Brother Blood is a character who could destroy Buddy's world and what's left of his family. He's an incredibly cool looking character, and his motivation and story are the highlight of this issue. Although he's a very new character, he's incredibly worthy of his own book during Villain Month.
Once again, writer Jeff Lemire mixes the world of celebrity and super-hero in a way that's never been done before. We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, and a lot of that info is not always right. The first few pages deal with this as the world wide web, along with the news, try to figure out whether Buddy's fight with the Splinterfolk was real or contrived for more publicity. It's a nice addition to the story and helps put Buddy's full life into perspective a bit more.
So the tone of this book is a bit dark, but there's a lighter side to this particular issue. Maxine and Socks head into the Red, with a crew of animals, in order to try and find Cliff's life source. It's a fun little adventure story that will heavily tie into the next arc of the story, but it was nice to see something a lot less dark in this series.
The Splinterfolk part of the story is a bit dry compared to the rest of the issue. While it's true they are a catalyst to Brother Blood, it their brief parts felt a bit weaker compared the rest of the book.
In addition, two artists worked on this book. It's a tad distracting because while their art styles are similar, it's a bit noticeable.
Since issue #1, ANIMAL MAN has been a stand-out book that's a bit different than the rest of DC Comics' super-hero books. This issue, in particular, was fantastic. It's the thrilling end to one storyline that goes right into the next one. Brother Blood is a stand-out character here, and while the overall tone is pretty dark, the Maxine and Socks side-story really lightens everything up. Overall, this was a wonderful issue and you really should go and pick this one up, especially since a new story starts next month.