With the series conclusion of “Animal Man” just around the corner, it’s easy to see the writing on the wall in “Animal Man” #28. Plotlines are wrapped up, and characters are repositioned for Animal Man’s future appearances in “Justice League United.” Still, Jeff Lemire and Rafael Albuquerque doesn’t lose sight of the most important aspect of “Animal Man” — the focus on Buddy’s relationship with his family — and it’s nice to see what’s left of them reunited for at least one final time.
Brother Blood’s defeat in “Animal Man” #28 is in many ways almost beside the point. Sure, Buddy’s going to find a way to stop him, right? But what’s so nice is how well Lemire makes the entire family a part of it. Both Buddy and Maxine are responsible for stopping Brother Blood, and their relationships with Ellen, Shepherd and even the deceased Cliff are all integral. It’s a sweet moment when the dust finally settles, even as Buddy’s promise that he made in order to get back to Earth continues to loom over his head (and will no doubt be part of his “Justice League United” involvement).
In many ways, it’s Maxine who shines the most here. She’s always had a good backbone on her, but this issue has her rolling up the proverbial sleeves and really just pounding her way through the story. Lemire doesn’t lose sight of Maxine’s grief over the loss of Cliff (a major part of this storyline), and if anything that grief helps fuel her response to Brother Blood and give her the strength she needs to defeat him. It’s a nice turn of events, turning the grieving process into something that provides power as well as sadness.
Albuquerque’s figures look great here, with his heavy ink lines providing texture on the page the same way that artists like Joe Kubert did. He’s also good at showing the distress on the faces of all of the members of the Baker family; as each emotion roars through them, you can Lemire’s intentions easily thanks to Albuquerque. There is unfortunately a slight lack of backgrounds this issue, and while the bleak landscape doesn’t help matters in that regard, it does feel like a few corners might have been cut here and there.
“Animal Man” #28 is another solid issue, and while I’m sad to see the series about to wrap up, it is good to know that Lemire will continue to write Animal Man’s adventures beyond the conclusion of this comic. Hopefully, if nothing else, it’ll draw some attention to the collected editions of “Animal Man,” because it’s been a fun ride.