A vegan animal rights activist/movie star with the ability to gain the abilities of any animal on the planet ventures into a dark, foreboding world to cleanse the source of all life from a vile taint gnawing at its core. That’s the plot summary of the current Animal Man comic series. Surprised I didn’t pick it up when the New 52 premiered? I sure am. The series has received nothing but praise from fans across the world, and its issues consistently sell out at comic shops nationwide. With the release of the collected editions of the first arcs of each New 52 comic, I decided it was the perfect chance to see what all the rage was about. As you may have seen in my review of Animal Man Annual #1, I’m loving this series. Just what makes Animal Man stand out? Read on to discover more!
Animal Man, aka Bernard “Buddy” Baker, is a family man with a seemingly normal existence: he has a wife, two kids, and has mostly abandoned superheroics in favor of focusing on building his home life. His daughter Maxine, however, begins to show strange powers of her own and soon she and Buddy are whisked away on a mission to save the web that connects all animal life known as The Red. As it turns out, a sinister force known as The Rot has begun infecting the essence of life itself. Furthermore, Maxine is in fact the Avatar of The Red and thus is destined to save all life. Maxine, however, is too young and inexperienced to fully grasp the extent of her power and duties, so it falls to Buddy to protect her from the sinister beasts all around him. Can the Baker family whether the monstrous onslaught? And what is Buddy’s true role in this budding conflict?
Jeff Lemire is the mind behind Animal Man. Lemire has great skill creating interesting and deep characters and every member of the Baker family gets his or her own moment to shine. Furthermore, the discussions of the connections between life and death/corruption are rather thought-provoking, far more than one might expect from a comic with such a non-descript title. The enemies Lemire created are also interesting: the Hunters Three have quite the air of mystery about them, and I’m intrigued to learn more about The Rot’s goals and ambitions. The dialogue is believable and the pacing is great, moving things along at a steady pace without lagging too much or rushing through key scenes.
Animal Man‘s art is the product of the wildly creative Travel Foreman. There’s only one way I can describe his art: disturbing. Now, some people may think that’s a bad thing, but for a book like this it’s downright perfect. I really felt unnerved as I watched Buddy’s nightmares and saw him come face to face with the agents of The Rot. I think the art would probably be a point of contention for some people, so I’d suggest looking at a few panels and deciding if you like it before picking this title up.
Overall, Animal Man‘s first volume is great. It’s a truly original title that’s different from any superhero story I’ve ever read, and I think that’s a good thing. Even if you aren’t too into comics, it’s hard to not enjoy this volume. Honestly, unless you’re put off by the art (which I’d understand…but not like to accept) you should definitely read this title.
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. He wonders how Buddy Baker and Beast Boy would get along…also, is their something about B name alliteration and animal powers?
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