Animal Man (Book One) Paperback – 24 May 2002
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From Grant Morrison, creator of The Invisibles and writer of New X-Men and JLA, comes a classic tale of a man whose struggle to save human lives becomes something more...Buddy Baker is Animal Man, able to take on the characteristics of any creature he touches. After some time away from high-profile heroics, he decides to get back into costume - much to the chagrin of his wife and son - and is soon involved in a series of dangerous and exciting adventures. But Buddy has some decisions to make, and some shocks to come; because for the first time, he's listening to the animals. And he doesn't like what he's hearing...
About the Author
Grant Morrison is one of comics' most innovative writers. His long list of credits include JLA, Doom Patrol and Judge Dredd, prior to his largest masterpiece, The Invisibles. Author of the award-winning Batman: Arkham Asylum, Morrison is currently writing the US' bestselling comic, Marvel Comics' New X-Men.
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Having said all that it was an OK read, Morrison as always finds ways to make the characters more interesting than they might be, but I won't be seeking out volume 2.
Despite being a superhero title, Grant Morrison writes Buddy Baker as a human being, not a hero. He's constantly bewildered by the insane things that happen in his life, and has a wonderfully normal domestic life with his wife and kids. This grounding means that you can almost believe the bizarre goings on in the story.
Buddy is possessed of a power that allows him to take on the abilities of any animals nearby. Be they birds for flight, elephants for strength or earthworms for regeneration. (Yes, the science doesn't bear up. But this is a superhero thing so roll with it. It is addressed.)
It begins with animal experimentation, of animals given diseases in the name of science, and of B'wana Beast an obscure super hero looking for justice. Meanwhile, in the real world, Buddy's family have a gut-wrenching encounter with a group of hunters, which is all the more affecting because it has no fantastic elements. It's just about humans being awful to animals and each other.
But the outstanding piece, the piece that in my teenage brain convinced me that Morrison is a genius, is the Coyote Gospel in which a cartoon coyote is reincarnated on Earth as a bizarre looking creature to die over and over again. The end of that story is so sad for all its bizarreness, but sets out Morrison's worldview. It is a work of art.
Chas Truog's art is very loose and kind of cartoony, and it works well to convey the sense of what Morrison is trying to achieve.
In the volumes that follow Morrison develops the story into something huge and metafictional, but you need to read this volume first because it is the grounding.
Great art, deep and at times disturbing story (because it rings so true and clear), subtle Warner Bros. references - this one is definitely worth a peek (if you can stomach it).
Lemire is continuing the trends set here in the new 52 animal man books with Maxine becoming a 'key' character in the current dc universe. the foundations for that were set here. Morrison explores reaching higher dimensions of consciousness and questions our own physical realities. By the last volume he even explores just how God maybe operating upon our own lifes. Its all actually not to unbelieveable and follows familiar Morrison ideas in a more accessible fashion. The art is very sparse and cartoony at times but it doesn't detract too much. Had this been just a little more detailed and not has to pander to the then dc continuity it would been amongst the top 10 runs of all time. As such its in the top 50 (although my top 10).....read enjoy and love Buddy Baker but not too much 'cos he's my cult hero.....