‘Animal Man’ Annual #2: The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week

You think Jeff Lemire is done making it dusty when you read Animal Man? Think he’s squeezed every bit of tragedy and sadness out of the death of Buddy’s son? Wanna bet? Our full review below, plus reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Titan, Boom!, and IDW.

This annual stops to linger on Buddy Baker as he remembers a case that involved his son. There’s a spider queen who eats dreams on the loose, and Cliff, needless to say, gets abducted in short order. So Buddy has to save his son, something made more difficult by his failure to do just that. It all ends on a note of heartbreak your rarely find in comics.

Out of all the annuals this week, this one is the most urgent, most beautiful, most wrenching. Lemire is a popular writer for a reason, and this book is a reminder why. Travel Foreman’s art helps as well, being surprisingly close to Steve Pugh in some respects. Even if you don’t follow Animal Man as an ongoing, pick this up: It’s worth the money and then some.

What about the other books this week? Let’s take a look…

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Unsurprisingly, with 2 Guns headed to theaters this weekend (yes, it’s based on a comic book), the sequel starts this week. And, actually Steven Grant delivers a pretty fun heist book, so far. The complications are layered on thick already, the main villains are imminently hateable people, and there are already plenty of secrets. It’s a fun read, and if you like crime stories it’s a book worth getting.

Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez turn out a tasty piece of blue-collar science fiction. Set in a world where physics can and often does go wrong, it’s about the guys who go in and fight the fires… or the weird changes in gravity. It’s a very loose and fun book, and it’s great to see Vertigo going in on science fiction this way. Definitely a book to pick up.

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Chris Sprouse returns to Tom Strong, who he co-created with Alan Moore, for a new pulpy story. Sprouse’s pencils are strong as always, and Peter Hogan stands in fairly admirably for Moore on this series, but it remains to be seen how the book is paid off, especially since this features… well, “science-heroes”, the America’s Best term for superheroes. It’s an odd choice for Vertigo, but an interesting launch to the book. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

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After an iffy zero issue, Joshua Williamson’s take on this old pulp hero picks up a little bit. It helps that Captain Midnight is actually surprisingly violent for a book like this; Williamson is hinting there might be something more than a little off about Jim Albright, which is a nice touch. I’m still on the fence about it, but Dark Horse running this book makes a little more sense now.

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Dan Boultwood takes an axe to cheesy British genre movies of the 1950s such as The Crawling Eye, and it’s hilarious. True, it pays off better if you’re familiar with the British film industry and its tendency to try and out-cheap American International Pictures, but Boultwood’s cartoony art and Mad-Magazine sensibility makes for a treat for bad movie lovers.

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Jeremy Dale hands in a pretty solid high-fantasy take on the hero’s quest. Quinn is just a simple farmboy…until his father’s past catches up with him. Dale’s art might be a little cartoony for some tastes, but Skyward is simply put a well-told story. If you like fantasy comics or have an older child you’re looking to buy comics for, this’ll scratch that itch nicely.

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You may not know Chris Cosentino; he’s a celebrity chef known for his reality show appearances and his taste for offal.