- Ellen... I love you. And I love our family. I will not let these things tear us apart. But I need you to trust me. I need you to let me be the hero... just this one last time.
- -- Buddy Baker
Appearing in "Extinction is Forever, Conclusion: Animal Man vs. Animal Man"
- La Junta
Synopsis for "Extinction is Forever, Conclusion: Animal Man vs. Animal Man"
With his physical body dead, Buddy Baker is trapped within The Red, at the mercy of the Totems of the Parliament of Limbs. Granting him another chance, the Totems introduce him to their Royal Tailors; a pair of yellow alien-like creatures. The tailors inspect Buddy's body and consider their options for making him more durable. After some deliberation, they begin the making process, casually warning that it will hurt very much.
Meanwhile, in La Junta, Colorado, Ellen Baker searches in vain for her son Clifford. With desperation, she asks her young daughter Maxine to use her connection to the Red to find her brother - despite having instructed the girl not to use her powers anymore. Regardless, Socks, Maxine's feline guardian, sent by the Parliament of Limbs can already smell the The Rot that has taken Cliff, and he can track it. To Ellen's surprise, the cat grows taller and taller into a monstrous feline creature, and he prepares to hunt the hunter.
Buddy wakes as nothing more than a speck of consciousness. Reaching out into The Red, he seeks out a life form and enters it. He finds a nanobe; one of the world's smallest organisms. He reaches further, and enters a fairy fly, but this is not enough for him. He finds a salamander and then a bird; a woodchuck, and finally an ape. He needs to find something similar to his old form. From the ape, Buddy transitions into his human body, and he remembers that he needs to save his son. Nothing is more important than saving Cliff.
Just outside La Junta, Socks tracks down Cliff, waiting for his father to come back. The cat warns that he cannot keep this form for long, and they must escape, because the Rot is here. Cliff fails to understand the situation, believing that his father is there to protect him. However, when the imposter arrives, it is obvious that Buddy's body has been overtaken by one of the Hunters Three.
Back at the RV, Maxine complains that she feels impotent to help her brother. Ellen explains that given the fact that Maxine is just four years old, she would rather that neither she nor Cliff got involved in these messes. Ellen's mother can't resist the opportunity to blame the unusual situation the Baker family finds itself in on Buddy - and Buddy, who has just arrived, agrees.
Buddy knows that Cliff is in danger, and he promises that he won't let anything hurt his boy. Ellen warns him not to give her a line of superhero clichés, but Buddy embraces her and pleads for understanding. He loves her, but she needs to trust in him for now; to let him be the hero one more time. In tears, Ellen simply asks him to bring their son back.
Socks tries to defend Cliff from the imposter-father, but the enemy is strong, and he snaps the cat's arm. Fortunately, Buddy arrives, charging forward with the strength and determination of a rhinoceros. Buddy commands the Hunter to release his son, and the creature responds that Buddy's love for his children makes him weak, dangling the boy by his neck. Instinctively, Buddy tears the creature's head from its body, letting Cliff drop to the ground.
The head sprouts spider-like legs and crawls back toward its body, all the while hissing that Buddy should simply have allowed the Hunters Three to take Maxine. Now they have built their strength up behind the Avatar of The Rot, and the Rotworld is coming. Angrily, Buddy yanks the head from the body again, and viciously stamps it into paste with an elephant's might.
Buddy, Cliff, and Socks return to their family, and Buddy promises his wife that all of the danger is over. However, Cliff begins to feel woozy. His eyes roll back in his head and he warns prophetically that the Avatar of the Rot is coming - Anton Arcane.
- No special notes.
- Buddy's transition from life form to life form is reminiscent of a similar transition that he made during the early part of Jamie Delano's run in Animal Man Vol 1.
- The form that Buddy takes when he returns to his family is similar to his appearance near the end of Jamie Delano's run on Animal Man Vol 1.
- The "Royal Tailors" are the same Yellow Aliens who are featured prominently in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man Vol 1 - however, they were retconned by later writers like Tom Veitch.
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