Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt Breakdown and Review!

Welcome back for another week of DC NEW 52 Breakdowns! We are veering away from some of the main Justice League characters (Superman and Batman) and getting into some of the more obscure and weird characters. For the next three weeks we delve into the beginning (Year One) of The Rotworld arc with the Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. This week is all about Animal Man, Buddy Baker with his daughter Maxine.

In issue #1, Warning from the Red, we have the introduction of Buddy Baker as a family man that has been a known hero for some time but has cut back for family reasons and work. He has starred in an Indie movie about being a hero that we see at the end but has also been itching to get back out there and helping people. The introduction of Maxine is that she is this little 4-year-old that just wants a dog. Unfortunately, Buddy has to say no because a close connection with one animal like that can cut him off from access other animals. If you know nothing about Animal Man, he draws on what he calls “A Web” of animals to take on their characteristics.

While having the talk about getting back out in the field his son Cliffe alerts him and his wife, Ellen to an incident at the local hospital. Buddy heads out suited up and it seems that, unlike most heroes, he has a good relationship with the police. They allow him to head in and talk to a man that is upset after his child with cancer passed. Buddy is shot at but takes the skin of a rhino to stop the bullet from penetrating He then takes on the elephant for strength, the fly for reflexes, Cheetah for speed and then the bark of a dog. (it freaks people out)

After taking this on to catch the father, Buddy has an adverse reaction to drawing in his powers. He begins to bleed from his eyes. After getting checked out with no sign as to why this happened, he heads home. He uses his cat napping to go to sleep and has a rather disturbing dream. Buddy and Cliffe are on the move running from something. Ellen at this point is dead and Cliffe then dies as well as they find Maxine. Maxine then has Buddy hide with him in a river of blood but his hesitance one gets him caught by the hunters.

When waking from the dream things are not much better. Ellen has discovered that Maxine has dead animals that she has reanimated in her room. Creepy.

In issue #2, Maps, we learn that Maxine playing with dead animals may not be the weirdest thing. When making from his dream he was now covered in these read tattoos. Maxine explains to him that they will only come off once he enters the red place and that his markings are a map. Also, if they don’t go everything dies (some high stakes)

While this conversation is happening, Cliffe is covering up the holes that Maxine made digging up the animals when he is caught by a neighbor. He threatens Cliffe which has Maxine turning the neighbor’s hand into a chick claw, a true show that she is powerful. Buddy thought forces her to fix it and gets them all in the house. From there Buddy decides that he and Maxine need to leave before the police show and to figure out what is going on by following this map on his body.

As they follow the map and bird to the red place and find the entrance, other things are happening as well. At the San Diego Zoo the animals are acting weird and the hippos are pregnant (not really) Their bellies have just expanded from being fed on by the Hunter’s three.

In Issue #3, Totems, Buddy and Maxine enter the Red Place to meet the former Animal Men that are now called Totems. Meanwhile, the hunter’s feel that “The Avatar” is now in the Red Place sending two of the hunters after them and the third after Ellen and Cliffe.

The Totems explain to Buddy that they were like him but also not really. Buddy is only a minor agent for the red world, where Maxine and the Totems are Avatars. His purpose was only to bring her into the world and that his powers are from them, not aliens like he thought. A war is coming between “the others” and the Green and Red Kingdoms with Maxine as one of the main characters in that war. Buddy argues that she is only 4, but it is up to Buddy to protect her and train her to fight the rot when it comes. At this point, Maxine scenes that Ellen and Cliffe are in danger.

With Ellen and Cliffe, they are met with one of the hunters and he even rings the doorbell. They run and escape after shooting at it once. They escape and head to Ellen’s mother’s house which is a previous location they agreed to meet in case something ever happened. After getting away, she calls the detective Henshaw that knows Buddy but before the end of the issue we see the third hunter take over his body.

Then to Issue #4, The Rot, the two hunters arrive in the Red Kingdom and go after Maxine, but Buddy puts himself in the way and fights them. He is stronger here in the Red kingdom, but this still proves to be a hard battle. It is Maxine that finally steps in with another display of her powers. The rot disappears as she has pushed them into the darkness, but this only buys them time, they will be back.

Ellen and Cliffe with the Detective arrive and Grandma’s house. Ellen goes into the house to talk with her and leaves Cliffe with the Detective not knowing that he is one of the Rot. Cliffe is alerted when he hears the real detective in the truck. He takes both Cliffe and Henshaw into the woods where he will use them as bait to lure out Ellen to kill her.

Maxine and Buddy stay in the Red Kingdom to get a brief history lesson about the Hunters Three. They used to be Totems and they were corrupted and pulled away by what they call the” Antidote to Life” and “The Darkness Under All”. They suggest looking for Alec Holland (Swamp Things) since he too will be battling the Rot even if he doesn’t know it yet. With Maxine again alerted to the danger with Ellen and Cliffe they head out of the Red Kingdom with one of totems deciding to come with them. A cat by the name of Socks who become their guidance. They arrive at the family home to find it empty and smelling of rot

In the final issue for this volume, Food Chain, Socks warns that this is all a trap set up by the remaining rot to lure them there and that they shouldn’t go. Buddy and Maxine still want to go to save the remaining members of their family. They arrive right after Ellen finds Cliffe, Cliffe gets the gun Ellen had and shoots the Rot. When the Rot goes to attack back Animal Man steps in. Again, he is overpowered, and this time is shown the future for Maxine once she is taken by the rot (Spoiler: It’s gross)

Maxine while back with her family just outside of the woods knows that her dad is not fairing to well and tries to help from there. She uses the ground as a conductor to connect to the web of life attacking the Rot with the animals around them. Seems like a good idea now until the Rot infects the animals giving it access to the web to then spread to everything.

They narrowly escape with Grandma and her RV and head off with the Rot following them. After time they get ahead of it, but it is only going to be a small reprieve. They then head off to look for Swamp Thing.

Issue #6 is included here but is basically just the movie that Buddy shot before these events took place.

This story will carry over into next week’s breakdown, Swamp Thing Vol 1. Raise Them Bones


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this volume. It is a nice break from some of the more traditional characters but still has a nice full storyline that is weird and different. I like the older comic styled illustration as well.

Read All of My DC New 52 Breakdowns

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