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Animal Man, Book 3 - Deus Ex Machina Paperback – November 1, 2003

14 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Animal Man Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When comic books started hooking for an older readership in the 1980s, one approach was to take a forgotten second- or third-string superhero and update him with a modern sensibility and sophistication. One of the most successful such resuscitations was Morrison's revamp of Animal Man, a rather inane 1960s costumed crime fighter who could assume the abilities of various beasties, flying like a bird or swimming like a fish. In Morrison's hands, Animal Man progressed from a standard-issue superhero to a compelling crusader for animal rights in an entertaining run of playful, often bizarre stories. In the final issues of the series he wrote, reprinted here, Morrison puts his hero though Job-like trials before finally inserting himself into the narrative to reveal to Animal Man that he is only a fictional character. In these unprecedented stories, Morrison brought metafiction to comics before the concept entered popular culture. Morrison went on to create increasingly complex comics, such as The Invisibles and The Filth, but it was with Animal Man that he began amassing his sizable fandom. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156389968X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563899683
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.6 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grant Morrison is one of comics' greatest innovators. His long list of credits includes Batman: Arkham Asylum, JLA, Seven Soldiers, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles and The Filth. He is currently writing Batman and All-Star Superman.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grant Morrision wrote Animal Man (issues 1-26) from 1988-1990. I was in college during the time, and became a reader around issue 9. I quickly got back issues, though, because of the surprising strength of this series.
This 3rd volume collects issues 18-26, and it wraps up one of Morrison's best series (the other being Doom Patrol 19-63). What makes this series outstanding is Morrison's usual trademark "weirdness"; however, unlike the "Invisibles", Animal Man and Doom Patrol have strong and symphathetic characterization-Buddy Baker and his family "seem real" even though this series is in part about the unreality of comic books. AM also has a particulaly strong and poignant ending-again like Doom Patrol.
Issues 1-26 form a complete story- the series should have been allowed to end with 26: added issues in a sense were superfluous. Only later with Sandman (allowed to end in 1996) did DC learn when "enough is enough".
To sum up: AM and DP represent Morrison at his magical best. Don't get me wrong, Invisibles, JLA and X-Men are entertaining. But I'm hoping he can pull out another white rabbit...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Durham HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By the time you reach the mind shattering conclusion of Deus Ex Machina, the last volume in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, everything he set up from the beginning comes full circle. As Buddy Baker and the strange Highwater go out to the desert, Buddy makes a shocking revelation that will take him to Arkham Asylum to confront the Psycho Pirate; a villain boasting about alternate worlds that no longer exist. Before that though, tragedy strikes Animal Man at the home front in a way he never imagined, and it isn't long before he teams up with the Mirror Master to exact revenge. Just about everything that Morrison has set up from the beginning of his run is tied up here: from the erratic behavior of Animal Man's powers, to the mysterious yellow alien's purpose, to the identity of the apparition stalking his family. All of which reaches the long hinted at conclusion in which Morrison breaks the fourth wall. The art is still take it or leave it, but Morrison's inventive story more than makes up for it. Even all these years later, Morrison's brilliant, at times preachy, deconstruction of this minor DC super hero remains one of his best works, and here's the proof. All in all, if you've never read any of Morrison's Animal Man run, now is the time to give it a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joao P. C. Santos on May 13, 2007
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There is not much in the way of a proper *story* in this book: events have little relevance or connection to one another. However, apparently this is part of the Author's intent. The idea is to discuss the relationship between creators (specifically comic writers) and their creations. A scenery is presented on "what if a comic character could actually find out that he is just so?". There is a discussion on the meaning of a comic character's reality, of the fact that he is just a puppet to a writer, of him not knowing that his "memories" are actually implanted by a writer etc.

That is the larger, main scope of this comic, which collects issues 18-26 of Animal Man (published late 1989 to early 1990), thus finishing Grant Morrison's run on the title. In a smaller-scope storyline, Morrison acknowledges the Crisis on Infinite Earths (which no character in the DC Universe was supposed to be aware of, except for the Psycho-Pirate) and discusses the meaning of such event to the existence/non-existence of comic characters in the DCU and in real life.

All this makes Deus Ex Machina a singular comic story, especially within the DCU realm. It is not a masterpiece (therefore 4 out of 5 stars), but it should always be highlighted as a very meaningful corner among the twists and turns of DC's mainstream storylines. It is an understatement to call it unusual.

Thorough annotations on these specific issues (18-26) can be found on the Web, in the "Crisis annotations" page (just google it, it's easy to find).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Abate on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is without a doubt one of the greatest graphic novels I have ever read. It serves as an incredible culmination of Morrison's Animal Man saga, following Buddy Baker's descent into his own personal hell, and his difficult journey back out again. The art is functional-- not bad, not great either, but that's all been said before. All in all a pretty amazing piece of work. Buddy is such a fundamentally GOOD guy, you can't help but care about what happens to both him and his family. It's smart, it doesn't talk down to you, and it happens to pull off some pretty amazing stunts by the last page. Give it a shot.
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As a Grant Morrison fan, for years I've been hearing that I should read his run on Animal Man, and now, 23 years after it's over, I've finally gotten around to it. Much like a comedian in a comedy club has a lesser comedian before him to warm the audience up as they drink their two-drink minimum, this reads as the warm-up act to his vastly superior Doom Patrol run. It's amusing, it's trippy, it's bizarre, but not nearly at the level of Doom Patrol.

Some background history: in the mid 80's, DC Comics had their "Crisis on Infinite Earths" series, which was used to redefine many of their top characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, and to bring others out of "comic book limbo" like Animal Man. DC had several universes (the main ones were really Earth-1 and Earth-2) and decided for marketing reasons to demolish them all and bring all the surviving characters into one universe. One character, the Psycho Pirate, was cursed to remember what the multiverse was like before the Crisis. He'll be showing up later on in this book.

This volume won't make much sense unless you've read the previous volumes, which on the surface appear to be standard-issue superhero adventuring with an environmental slant. This volume starts with a two-issue peyote trip and then gets weirder from there (page 41 alone is almost worth the price of the book). Animal Man (Buddy Baker) will eventually discover he is a comic book character and get to meet Grant Morrison, who writes himself as a bit of a rotter. Ultimately, the problem with this book is exactly as Grant says to Buddy on page 216 "that's the trouble with my stories -- they always seem to build up to something that never actually happens."

Just one note about the art - if you buy this, you won't be buying it for the art.
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