Animal Man

Unearthed: Animal Man #54

How far can Buddy climb the Lifeweb?

This is a clever homage to the classic painting by Henry Fuseli, “The Nightmare”.

Cliff’s getting tired of palling around with Uncle Dudley. What’s it all about, anyway?

Dudley’s a man obsessed with death, and deals it out whenever possible, it seems.

He’s a real charmer, is Dudley. And what’s he got on that rock?

Why, it’s Buddy’s fingers! Saved from when Dudley ran him over, and looking quite ripe. Lovely.

The end of the journey: a location used for a couple of different horror films, familiar to both Dudley and Cliff.

I always appreciate it when the artist makes the title of the issue a part of the landscape, as Pugh has done here. This bodes not well for Cliff, but we must leave him for now…

Ellen wakes late in the day to the sound of some kind of ruckus. Maxine’s all upset…

Her grandma’s trying to kill the bat that ate the dragonfly that Ellen identified as her father last issue.

The old woman scores a hit, but only wounds the bat, though Maxine thinks it’s dead.

Oh Maxine, surely you can tell it’s still alive? She has a special connection to the Lifeweb, you see…

Delano’s prose is always a pleasure to read, and it gets a lot of space in this issue.

So Buddy does have some control over his host’s actions, though from the sound of it, it’s a constant struggle.

Delano’s style veers just shy of being purple. It’s a great balance between evocative and functional.

Night falls, and Buddy knows he’s in danger. But he’s wise to the game at this point.

Buddy doesn’t care to completely override the actions of his cat host at this time.

Meanwhile, Ellen is busy getting drunk and falling asleep. You can hardly blame her, given everything that’s going on: her husband is dead, her son is missing, and her daughter thinks every animal is her daddy.

Buddy-as-cat enters through the open window, and it’s interesting that his inner monologue goes silent during this scene.

This book goes from dark to comic so quickly at times it’s astounding.

Why doesn’t Buddy try to communicate with Ellen here? Clearly he’s the one calling the shots in this moment.

Here’s that internal war as mentioned before.

It’s also curious that Buddy doesn’t recognize Winky, since the beast was there before he was killed.

Here Buddy takes the leap and lets his consciousness leave the cat without having to wait until its death. He’s gained more control over the process.

Buddy allows his consciousness to be subsumed by the triceratops and they both go into a reverie of remembrance.

More of Delano’s lovely prose.

Buddy/Winky lows from the barn, a mournful sound that Ellen misinterprets as sickness, but Maxine knows loneliness when she hears it.

In their shared dream, Buddy’s will takes over.

Delano’s giving us a sneak peek at what lies ahead for Buddy Baker.

Hopping from body to body, coming close to his loved ones, feeling the existential angst of futility, Buddy makes a decision.

He’s giving up at last. Winky breaks out of the barn and heads off into the night.

And here’s more of Steve Pugh’s awesome texture work, as the triceratops wanders off to its own uncertain destiny.

Please join me on Wednesday for Animal Man #55!