After 5 years as Animal Man, Buddy Baker starred in a movie, Tights, and hadn't been as active as a superhero. He wanted to change this and stopped a man who had taken a hospital floor hostage after his daughter died of cancer. However, after using his powers, Buddy bled from his eyes for a short time but didn't seem to be harmed. That night he found Maxine, his daughter, had reanimated the corpses of some animals. Maxine said she heard them from the Red, pointing to Buddy's chest where a strange red tattoo suddenly appeared. Maxine told him it was a map to the Red and that it would disappear once she took him there. They traveled to the heart of the Red where the Totems of the Parliament of Limbs are and they explain that they were the old avatars of the Red and that Maxine is the current avatar. Buddy was chosen to protect Maxine until she was ready. Two of the Hunters Three arrived and attacked and while Buddy was outmatched the Totems directed Maxine to blast them away. Buddy was injured and the Totems taught Maxine how to heal the wound. The Totems explained that the Hunters want to take Maxine as part of the Rot and that Alec Holland can help them, also one of the Totems joins them as a cat. When they arrived back at their house they found it torn apart and Cliff and Ellen were missing. They found Ellen and Cliff at Mary Frazier's farm, where they were being attacked by the other Hunter. Buddy attacked but the Hunter was stronger so Maxine used her powers to make the animals overwhelm the Hunter. However, the Rot spread through the animals and they all had to run.
Animal vs. Man
While traveling through Arches National Park, Buddy had a dream of the earth completely covered in carnage and rot. He saw an older Maxine and Swamp Thing battling the Hunters Three and a strange man in a trenchcoat told him that this was the future if he failed to protect Maxine. When he woke up, Maxine warned him that she could feel the Rot coming and then they were surrounded by infected animals. Maxine rushed out to face the animals and was ripped apart. Buddy, enraged, leapt at the animals and tore them apart and found Maxine's limp body. However, Maxine had jumped into the Red when she was attacked and took over the body of a fox. She changed the fox's form into that of her own and then decomposed her former body. Cliff anounced that the town was being attacked and Buddy went alone to face them. Buddy was overcome and killed while his body was taken over by the Rot. Buddy's conscience arrived in the Bone Orchard of the Red where the Shepard agreed to take him to see the Totems after he revealed he is Maxine's father. The Shepherd also revealed that Cliff had been taken by the Rot. He took Buddy across the Sea of Blood, where they found an intrusion from the Rot. They battled the Rotlings and almost lost before the Warriors of the Redlands joined and defeated the Rotlings. The Warriors agree to take Buddy and the Shepherd directly to the Parliament of Limbs where Buddy confronted the Totems. They agree to make him a new body and the Royal Tailors gave him an identical body but with more enhanced powers. Buddy arrived back on Earth and saved Cliff, tearing the head off his old body. Buddy destroyed the body completely and returned with Cliff to his family. However, Cliff's eyes rolled to the back of his head and he warned that Arcane was coming.