Next month, ANIMAL MAN’s new story arc, “Splinter Species,” will find Buddy Baker dealing not only with immense personal tragedy, but also with his increasing fame as he finds himself nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award.
“I felt that Buddy's celebrity is an aspect of his character that makes him unique from other super heroes. He's one of the few DC characters whose identity is known to the public, but also who has this bizarre cult following as a minor celebrity. To me, that seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore, what I see as a real sickness in our culture, that being our obsession with fame and celebrity,” series writer Jeff Lemire recently explained to MTV GEEK. “This is the Baker family's darkest hour. They will either be destroyed completely or evolve into something new. And, just as Buddy hits rock bottom emotionally and personally his celebrity explodes, making everything even more complicated and difficult.”
And what about the Splinterfolk, the new villains that we got a sneak peek at last week?
“They're a group of... I guess you would call them, at one time they were animal rights activists. But they've pushed it so far and gone so far in the extreme with it that they've actually started surgically grafting animal parts on their own bodies, to be closer to the Red. So they've become these horrible mockeries of animal rights activists, these Frankenstein kind of half-human, half-animal creatures that Buddy tangles with,” Lemire said to NEWSARAMA. “After The Rot, I really wanted to expand Animal Man's rogues’ gallery. I wanted to add a number of new villains both old and new as a way to help keep the book fresh. So in addition to new creations like The Splinterfolk we'll be seeing a reimagined version of Brother Blood emerge as Buddy's rival as well. Blood seems like a natural choice for Animal Man because his powers lend themselves to a possible connection to The Red. But it's more than that. I’m going to give him a new origin that makes him even more of a perfect fit for Animal Man. He grew up with [ties to] The Red like Maxine, but Blood never had a stable family life it the support of parents like Buddy and Ellen. As a result, it corrupted him.”
For more from Lemire about what ANIMAL MAN fans can expect from the new “Splinter Species” arc, check out the full interviews that ran with the writer on MTV GEEK and NEWSARAMA, both of which contain exclusive interior art from the upcoming ANIMAL MAN #21 (in stores June 19th).