Archive for October, 2011

Animal Man #1

October 21, 2011

My main knowledge of Animal Man stems from the infamous run Grant Morrison had in the 80’s, which was so perfect and complete by itself, that was all I ever needed to read of the character. When the new 52 was announced and Animal Man was slated to be a featured title, I knew I had to pick it up.

Buddy Baker (aka Animal Man) starts in a familiar setting, and one which really makes this character shine – at home with his family. What other superhero has a family they come home to? It’s such an interesting dynamic and really helps me get attached to Buddy, who is pretty much a regular dude trying to figure it all out. We enter his life as he is in the midst of deciding how much he wants to be a superhero, an actor, a stunt man, an activist, a family man. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Animal Man is that it is basically an 80’s archetypal character, but now much more rooted in a horror landscape, with a very creepy and surreal exposure to “The Red”, which is somehow tied to Animal Man’s power.

Travel Foreman’s art is refreshingly stark, with solid and bold colors, clean inks, and some interesting use of white space/panel design, and his art is one of this title’s strongest assets. There is movement and life in his artwork which really belongs in a darker storyline that Animal Man is obviously becoming (see below for said “movement” in his art).

Jeff Lemire’s writing is pretty good, pretty snappy, very well-paced, and although I’ve never heard of Lemire before, he seems quite capable. Lemire really does a good job of showing us what a nuclear family with a father who is a superhero would be like. Most superheroes live a pretty solitary life, but Buddy is a genuinely nice guy who loves his family and wants what is best for them, which will undoubtedly get him into trouble down the line (as it has before).

Animal Man has always skirted on the side of an ironic superhero, highlighted by Morrison’s run with the character where he is by all accounts a fairly cheesy/lame character (he has the power of any animal), but just by making his powers a little more savvy and juxtaposing such a bright character with the dark, ominous overtones of this latest incarnation, I can’t help but enjoy this one, and look forward to the next month’s issue.

Rating: 9/10

The New 52… I’m back in it baby.

October 14, 2011

A while back, it was brought to my attention by friend Keith that DC was relaunching 52 of their titles. What would be called “The New 52” immediately made me curious? What? How? Why? Marvel had kind of done this with their Ultimate line years ago, and now DC was trying to shake it up. Kudos.

I hadn’t been reading comics with any devotion for quite a while. I was always a Marvel guy, mainly stemming from their strong influence on me through the 80’s and 90’s growing up. I like to think I am still a Marvel guy at heart, but the endless event titles and crossovers really got to me after a while, and so I had to stop reading comics…until now.

The new 52 did exactly what DC hoped it would in my case – suckered me into buying a couple of their books. Of the 52, I still had to laugh at a lot of them (Hawk and DoveOMACVoodoo? Who are these people?), and mind you this is all alien territory for me at this point.  I’m used to my stories by Ed Brubaker and Brian Michael Bendis; who is thisGeoff Johns and what does he want from me? But I had enough nerd in me to know which character was which and what their powers are, so I figured, why not?

Now there will always, always be characters in DC that I simply cannot get into (sorry Supes), but here was my chance to start fresh, right? And so I committed the ultimate sin. I downloaded the entire first issues of the new 52. I know, I know, I am ashamed and that will be something I carry with me for the rest of my life (natch), but as someone who has been burned by comics before, and as I am treading in foreign waters with just a paddle, I feel okay about it. After quickly skimming through the titles that I knew I would never like (a lot of them really), there were a few that really stood out to me, and I was at the comic shop the next day to go down a very familiar road yet again.

In my personal opinion, the most interesting titles of the new 52 are Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, DC Universe Presents: Deadman, Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE, Justice League Dark, Suicide Squad, and Swamp Thing. There are some other titles which I still felt were pretty good and I may yet subscribe to (i.e. The Flash, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Green Lantern Corps) but I’m still taking baby steps here, and the ones that I really enjoyed grabbed my attention much more.

So here I am world, a newborn DC guy. I am anxious to see how this continues, but rest assured, I’ll be offering up some reviews as I go along. Who knows, I may find myself giving Marvel another chance (they still have so many of my favorite artists!) but until then, looks like I have at least 8 titles to look forward to every month.

Welcome to my nightmare.