The final issue of the story of the “The Last Days of Animal Man” features just that — Buddy Baker’s last days wearing the most familiar orange and blue costume in DC Comics illustrious publishing history. Conway spans the entirety of Animal Man’s career from the yellow big-headed aliens to Buddy’s work as a stunt director to his time with his allies in the League of Titans.
Batista’s art is as smooth and polished as it has been from the start of this series. If DC isn’t considering bigger and better, more high-profile assignments for Batista at this point, then they are making a rather big mistake. Batista has the chops to be one of the most prolific artists of this era. His range of facial expressions — from Buddy’s self-doubt to the damning spite on Prismatik’s boil-covered face — is well-suited for a story so influenced by the human condition.
Conway may have used this story as a bit of cathartic therapy for himself, but there is no doubt in my mind that more than a handful of readers can relate to what Buddy went through in this story — not necessarily the battles with Prismatik and Bloodrage, so much as the decisions a man makes regarding his life. Thank fully, this story is set in the future, so there a more than a few adventures of Animal Man waiting to be told. Conway has set some story cues up for others to build on and I certainly hope someone takes a good long look at the blue whale Green Lantern. DC has a solid creative team already in place here, should they decide to revisit Buddy Baker as Animal Man in the present day DC Universe.
In a time where comics have gravitated towards events this entire series has stood on its own merit. Moving the character forward without utterly destroying what has been established to this point, “The Last Days of Animal Man” is good reading. Fans of the early issues of Grant Morrison’s take on “Animal Man” – or even fans who discovered the character during his time in “52” are certain to enjoy this story about Buddy Baker and his family. There is no questioning Buddy’s heroism as Conway does a great job of telling a very good story.