By Jeff Lemire and Rafael Albuquerque
Animal Man #23 ended on quite a cliff hanger, and after a Villain’s Month hiatus Animal Man is back as Brother Blood and the King of Limbs begin their conquest of the Red. With Buddy being shut out of the Red and Maxine now trapped inside it seems that, like the Rot and Green before it, the Red is headed to war with itself.
From issue one Jeff Lemire has been writing this series as a family drama and those ties stay strong in this issue. Maxine is sailing on a pirate boat searching for a way to bring her brother Cliff back from the dead while Buddy and Ellen work on searching for Maxine. The relationship between Maxine and the Shepard has become one of the strongest points in the book recently and reinforces the family aspect of the series, whether or not Maxine and Shepard are related by blood.
Rafael Albuquerque begins his run on the series with issue 24 and his style is perfectly suited for Animal Man. The book has a very dark tone to it and Albuquerque nails that page after page. His work with American Vampire is put to good use here as the King of Limbs and Brother Blood engage in an onslaught of the other totems.
Albuquerque nails the violence and action in the issue but also manages to make the odder and lighter aspects of the book just as enjoyable to look at. The pirate crew that Maxine is traveling with in particular look great and are a nice diversion from the dark tone the book carries this issue.
While this book may be one of the more violent on the DC lineup it also has a lot of heart in it. Through both writing and art, the creative team makes you care just as much about how Buddy and Ellen’s relationship will turn out as you would with who will win this next fight.