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

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