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5.0 out of 5 stars Where no Animal Man has gone before, 30 Mar 2014
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Animal Man Volume 4: Splinter Species TP (The New 52) (Animal Man (DC Comics)) (Paperback)
The story running through issues #20-23 of DC Comics' `New 52' Animal Man title is collected, along with Annual #2, as Animal Man Volume 4: Splinter Species TP (The New 52) (Animal Man (DC Comics)). This story deals with the aftermath of the death of Cliff Baker, as Ellen and Maxine leave to stay with Ellen's mother, and Buddy finds that his last film role has got him an Oscar nomination and the attention of the paparazzi. Maxine, meanwhile, has been exploring the Red with Socks the cat, and has discovered that she may be able to grow a new Cliff to replace the old one... and a cult has arisen that want to share Animal Man's powers, led by one Brother Blood.

This title is now forging a superb new pathway for itself after the somewhat unoriginal opening epic and its really annoying ending, and I feel that it deserves 5 stars for its handling of the characters in their current situation.

THE SPOILER ZONE

Annual #2 - `One Last Flight' - is a double-length story in which we see Buddy baker at a low ebb after the death of Cliff and his separation from his family, living in a hotel room that he has to sneak out of to avoid the paparazzi who are now pursuing him. When he sees a newspaper asking if Cliff's death has been faked as a publicity stunt for his film, he loses it in a big way in a newsagents shop; then has a flashback to four years previously, when he had to collect Cliff from school and fight a strange creature while trying to get to the hospital where Ellen was in labour with Maxine. The creature had the ability to `steal' dreams, and had managed to kidnap Cliff. Now, Buddy goes looking for the creature in the hopes that it still has Cliff's memories...

Issue #20 - `Tights, part two' - is an adaptation of the film that Buddy made just before the beginning of this new series, and which has got him an Academy nomination for best actor...

Issue #21 - `Splinter Species, part one' - sees Buddy investigating a spate of pet abductions, while Maxine begins to explore the Red and confronts the Parliament. Buddy discovers the lab where the stolen animals have been experimented on, and confronts the loony who is grafting animal parts to his body to try and replicate Animal man's connection to the Red...

Issue #22 - `Splinter Species, part two' - sees Maxine exploring hew powers in the Red, and building a new body for Cliff. Buddy tracks the loony from the previous issue, discovering that there is a cult of people trying to copy his connection to the Red. The paparazzi who were following him break in to the loonies' lab just as they try to dissect the captured Buddy...

Issue #23 - `Splinter Species, part three' - sees Maxine, Socks and shepherd set out to try and catch Cliff's soul before it passes out of the Red to be reincarnated. Buddy breaks into Belle Reve prison to question the leader of the Cultists, and discovers that the blood sample they took from him has been shipped off to another cult leader, who is revealed to us as being Brother Blood. He uses Buddy's blood to establish a link with the Red, where he confronts the Parliament, and a traitor is revealed within their ranks, and Brother Blood claims the role of Avatar of the Red...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Husband, Father, Actor, Superhero?, 22 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Animal Man Volume 4: Splinter Species TP (The New 52) (Animal Man (DC Comics)) (Paperback)
Animal Man has been one of the success stories of the New 52 re-launch, a hero not really ever taken seriously but in the hands of the impressive Jeff Lemire the series has been a revelation, unfortunately the information is wrong the volume only contains issues 20-23 and annual 2, with only 6 issues left until the series end (boo DC, shame on you) it would have left only four in the last volume which wouldn't have made sense.

Now that the Rotworld story has been concluded this volume deals with the fallout from the events of the conclusion of that series, I am about to spoil the end of Rotworld so please skip to the end of this review, following the death of his son Cliff and his wife's decision to leave him Buddy Baker is at a low, hounded by the media due to his upcoming Oscar nomination (his acting carer and the film 'Tights' has been a running story so far) and at a loss what to do he begins to investigate the disappearance of pets in L.A, this leads him to a group called the Splinterfolk who have designs on his connection to the Red (the Red being the animal kingdom balanced with the green, plants and the black, rot and decay) while his daughter Maxine newly crowned queen of the red journeys through the red kingdom searching for the soul of her dead brother to bring him back to life.

The volume starts with two one off stories, the first set four years previous and explores Buddy's connection with his son, now normally superhero families are a burden but somehow Lemire has found a way to make the Baker family the heart of the story and it never feels forced, it makes Animal Man a much more likable character he really just is a normal guy who happens to have superpowers. The second story is actually pretty cleaver it is told through a scene of the film Tights and although it isn't directly about Animal Man as such it is used as a mirror as Baker character life slowly falls apart after finding fame and fortune it kinds of mirrors his own mental state, as well as the relationship with the main characters son is a large part of the plot it ties in nicely with the main theme of the rest of the volume.

The other two issues and the annual deal with the Splinterfolk story I mention earlier and is the main meat of the story, the dual storytelling switching between Buddy and Maxine is well done (as it has been all the way through the series) really it has been a dual title from the start and to actually see Maxine dressed up as Animal Girl inside the Red brought a smile to my face and I hope it does to you too, the fact that a five year old with superpowers never feels odd even when paired with a talking cat named Socks (no I am not joking) how Lemire has pulled that off I will never know, also Sheppard from previous issues is present again which is good, really even though this is a new story it really is a continuation of the main themes from before and even with a very recognisable villain joining the fray it really is still the story of Buddy and Maxine coming to terms with their respective powers and how it affects those closest to them.

Now this volume is fantastic, the art is still wonderfully creepy the storytelling is brilliant and the character rather then being superhero cut-outs are well rounded people in their own rights, even bits like a pirate giraffe (wish I was making this up) don't make you shake your head, the way also the current trend from social media affects life is a big part of the story and fits in well with the narrative and I can believe someone had fun writing a lot of twitter like messages about Animal Man, but there is a big problem with it ending with the annual it stops right when it is getting good and that is so frustrating, just as the final shock is unveiled a message saying to be concluded in volume five appears, it's a shame that's the only thing stopping this from getting five stars but I can understand why the end of Splinterfolk has been kept back, it's just a bit annoying, that aside this volume and the previous three are well worth investing in, believe the hype Animal Man is easily one of the best series of the New 52 and is well worth anybodys time and money.
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