"... Goodnight, Animal Man": With The Red more or less saved by Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine, the realm connecting every life force on Earth needs some new Totems, and Buddy can think of none better to take on the roles t
- I've heard that before, Buddy, but I also know better than to ask you to stop. I know that this is who you are.
- -- Ellen Baker
Appearing in "... Goodnight, Animal Man"
- Swamp Thing (In a Story)
- Abby Arcane (In a Story)
- Cliff Baker (In a Story)
- The Bridgewalker (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "... Goodnight, Animal Man"
With The Red more or less saved by Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine, the realm connecting every life force on Earth needs some new Totems, and Buddy can think of none better to take on the roles than his friends Shepherd and Socks. They are reluctant, but Buddy reminds that the Red needs them, since Brother Blood and his Splinterfolk tore it apart. Socks points out that the Red needs something, and whatever that is, if not Totems, they can be that. However, the Red also needs an Avatar on Earth, to maintain the balance. Sadly, Buddy admits that he had run from that responsibility in the past, dragging his family into the mess as a result. At last, he will be the Red's avatar, and only him. Maxine must be left out. Socks agrees that the deal is acceptable, so long as he is the best father to her that he can be. Buddy must be a father first, then Animal Man, then the Red.
Back home, finally, Buddy explains how he got Maxine out of her role to his wife Ellen, who doubts that he will really be able to make things different if he is still Animal Man. Even so, she knows better than to ask him to stop. Superheroics is who he is - but from now on, his costume must come off as soon as he walks in the door. If he can't make that promise, they can't be together. She begs one further promise, though: if things get too complicated, and his "work" might come home with him, he must tell her everything. Buddy promises, but in the back of his mind lurks the worry that he will have to keep his promise to the Bridgewalker - the promise to give up his family and protect the Reds of the entire cosmos.
He checks in on Maxine, who is supposed to be asleep, but instead remains awake. She senses his worry, and Buddy brushes it off, explaining that he will have to do the worrying for the both of them, now. In the meantime, he offers her a bed time story, but she counters with her own, to stop his worrying.
In her story, there was a princess and prince who lived in the kingdom of California; a place full of animals, not to mention their parents. Their father was often away because of his duties to the kingdom. he was a powerful knight, and all of the animals had chosen him as their guardian. Unfortunately, not even he could be everywhere at once, and he could not prevent a monster from stealing away the prince to the Rotten Forest. The king took the remainder of his family into the forest to catch the monster and bring the prince back to the castle, but the woods were populated by even more monsters, of many kinds.
Fortunately, the father had allies to help him in the Swamp Man and his friend the White-Haired Lady. Even after defeating all of the monsters together, though, the prince was still missing. So, while her father fought the bad guys, the princess decided to go on a journey to seek out her brother. She sailed the Red Seas wit her friends, but still they could not find him. Her parents eventually caught up to her, and tried to make her feel better, but her father was even sadder than her, because he blamed himself for losing his son. The little animals, though, came to tell them all a secret. They didn't have to be sad anymore, because they still had eachother, and the good news was that one day, they would all die too, and be with the prince again. So, they all went back to their castle, and lived happily ever after.
The story brings a tear to Buddy's eye, and he puts his daughter to bed before returning to his wife's room, where he finds her sleeping already. He plants a kiss on her forehead without waking her, and, spotting a spider on the carpet gathers it up in his hand. Carrying it out the front door, he lets the spider scurry from his palm into the grass of the lawn, and whispers goodnight to his son Cliff, who is in a better place. Smiling to himself, Buddy goes back inside, and returns to his family.
- This book was first published on March 19, 2014.
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