"Red Birth": Five years ago, the Avatar of The Red resided in the Republic of the Congo, working to prevent poachers from kidnapping a chimpanzee. However, one particular case was actually a trap laid by the Avatar of The Rot, Anton Arcane, an
- We must create a narrative that Buddy Baker will understand. One that will reflect his times. Otherwise, his mind could never accept what is about to happen to him. You must understand, all of our previous Avatars have been born into this role... Baker is already an adult. The truth would drive him mad.
- — Ignatius
Synopsis for "Red Birth"
Five years ago, the Avatar of The Red resided in the Republic of the Congo, working to prevent poachers from kidnapping a chimpanzee. However, one particular case was actually a trap laid by the Avatar of The Rot, Anton Arcane, and that Animal Man was killed.
The Totems of the Parliament of Limbs pondered over what to do now that their Avatar was dead. They could already feel the Rot and The Green encroaching unimpeded. Some among the Totems wished to outright kill Arcane in retaliation, as the Green did not have a proper avatar in its Swamp Thing chosen champion.
One totem, however, convinced them that they should create a replacement champion, despite the fact that their next Avatar had not even been conceived yet. The feline Ignatius suggested that they use the Tailors to imbue the next Avatar's father, Buddy Baker with the power he'd need to keep his daughter safe, and fight for the Red.
Buddy was working at the time as a stunt man for films. The film of the day was Chicken Thief 3, a gig he got with the help of his agent and friend Roger Denning. Still, he was dissatisfied with stunt work of this nature. Roger suggested a film by up and comer Ryan Daranovsky, which might have been of interest. In any case, Buddy had to leave work for his son Cliff's birthday.
Buddy had bought several comic books on the way home as a present, but hadn't had the chance to wrap them yet. Regardless, he promised his wife Ellen that he'd be home soon. It was a promise he would not keep, as he was suddenly distracted by the sight of a glowing object crashing into the trees nearby.
In order to help Buddy to understand what was about to happen to him, the Totems arranged an elaborate ruse. They created the appearance of a UFO crash to entice him, and when he went inside the downed ship, he encountered the Tailors, who had assumed the resemblance of stereotypical yellow aliens. At the Totems' command, the Tailors gave him an impure connection to the Red, given that he was only meant to be a temporary Avatar. His power levels would be mild - just enough to let him commune with the Lifeweb and protect the daughter he would soon be having. Afterwards, the aliens dumped him outside, completing the narrative of alien abduction that would help him cope with the suddenness of his new-found power.
When Buddy woke, he was left naked next to a neatly folded spandex suit. Without any prompting, he naturally assumed that he had been given powers - the suit was explanation enough. Unfortunately, it took some botched attempts at flight before he realized what he could do. When the woodland creatures nearby began to surround him, he soon gained the power of real flight from a bird, and understood that his powers came from the animals.
Happily, he flew home, late for Cliff's birthday. Still hovering above the ground, he gathered up his son, and despite Ellen's protests, he took the boy flying as a present.
The next six months were filled with heroism and activism on Buddy's part, in keeping with his belief that he was given powers by aliens in order to protect mankind. However, Ellen was growing worried. One night, Buddy found her in bed, afraid that his heroics would endanger his life, or the lives of his family. Her concerns were not merely for him and for Cliff. Ellen was pregnant.
Nearby, the Hunters Three and Anton Arcane watched the Baker household. Arcane decided that they would allow this new Avatar to be born, as she may be of some use to him alive, for the time being.
Appearing in "Red Birth"
- Anton Arcane
- Hunters Three
- Superman (In a vision)
- Roger Denning (First appearance)
- The comics that Buddy collects for Cliff in this issue feature the Penalizer, who was Cliff's favourite comic anti-hero in Volume 1, and featured heavily in Animal Man #38.