on May 11, 2012
This volume contains issues 1-6 of DC comics, Animal Man, part of the new 52 relaunch that started in September 2011.
Animal Man is Buddy Baker, a man given the power to take on the characteristics of any living animal on our planet. This trait gave him a unique perspective on the creatures of our planet leading him to giving up eating meat and being a vocal animal rights activist. Buddy lives in San Diego with his wife Ellen, and two kids, Cliff and Maxine. Buddy is semi-retired from the superhero business and was never really a big hitter like some of the icons of the DC universe (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash just to name a few) and was a Hollywood stuntman and even started an acting career in independent films.
One night, when Buddy decides to play superhero again, he has a very bizarre reaction. Also, his daughter Maxine starts to show signs that she is her father's daughter with some disturbing powers of her own. This leads the Baker family on a journey into the Red, the source of Buddy and Maxine's powers, as well as the embodiment of the life force for all living animal life on earth. The Red is being threatened by the Rot, the embodiment of un-life, the force that wants to feed on all life.
Jeff Lemire does an amazing job at reintroducing Animal Man that old fans can appreciate and new fans can ease in to. He does take influence from previous writers and their great runs (Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano) but this is a fresh start for the Baker family and the Animal Man mythos and terrific one at that. Taking a "has-been" of a superhero and pitting him in a fight against the forces of life and death is monumental but Lemire does a great job of not making this battle too overwhelming and gives a great supporting cast to care, fear, and root for.
Travel Foreman's art is visceral, sometimes overly surreal, and above all fantastic! The content he draws can get pretty unnerving and seem too graphic for some. A lot of "flesh horror" where people's and animal's bodies and organs are twisted and contorted in ways that reminded me of 80's style horror movies. David Cronenberg and Clive Barker come to mind. View at your own discretion. John Paul Leon's art in the final chapter/issue is superb as well as a nice break in the action but reflects a subconscious concern of our protagonist.
This is a great story for superhero and horror fans alike, but with not an overdose of each element. This book is a sign to a DC fan like me that this "relaunch" is a GREAT thing. Bring on Animal Man's sister title Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones (The New 52) and the next volume of Animal Man!
on September 19, 2011
Animal Man is one of the best of the DC "New 52." Since most of us don't have the baggage of knowledge of old Animal Stories, the task of re-booting the story is admittedly easier than the challenges facing the Superman re-boot.
LeMire delivers! Animal Man, a former super-hero, is now an animal activist struggling with the challenges of being a family man. It all takes a turn when he has a horrific nightmare...
The artwork for this title is perfect for the subject matter. The detailed nightmare scenes perfectly convey the story. I don't know how they'll be able to keep this book on schedule- this artist must be on some serious stimulants.
Inventive, solid story, fresh art style, atypical hero with character development and story twists.
A must-read of the DC New 52.
Echoing Grant Morrison's now classic and influential run on Animal Man over 20 years ago, Animal Man's place in DC's New 52 is a horrifying place indeed. The first collected storyarc of the new series, entitled "The Hunt", finds Buddy Baker a semi-retired costumed hero who works as an animal activist and actor. Things are going fine for Buddy and his family, until he learns of some terrifying secrets regarding his powers, as well as secrets involving his four-year old daughter Maxine. I don't want to spoil anything, but the end results are chilling, creepy, and make for compulsively addictive reading. Writer Jeff Lemire manages to inject enough the everyman aspect into Animal Man's presentation while combining the proceedings with some surprising no-holds-barred horror elements as well. All of this is made better by Travel Foreman's wonderfully creepy artwork. All in all, this new take on Animal Man is one of the best things to come out of the new DC Universe thus far, and it wholeheartedly deserves your time and attention.
DC's New 52 was met with both criticism and joy when it released last year. Many of the titles in the release were disappointing, but "Animal Man," written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, is one of a small handful of titles that actually lived up to expectations. "Animal Man" isn't as widely known as many of DC's other heroes, which might have actually helped this title be such a breath of fresh air when compared to other New 52 titles.
Personally I had never even heard of Animal Man until I was offered this volume of issues #1-#6 of the New 52 era through Amazon Vine. I decided to give it a whirl and have to admit that I am now a fan of Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man. His power allows him to call on the different traits of animals (I'm assuming there's no limit to which animal traits he can call on) and use them to fight for justice. He takes on some of the physical traits of the animals that he calls upon as well.
In this version of his story, Jeff Lemire shows us an Animal Man who is more content with leading protests and heading up animal rights campaigns instead of slugging it out with baddies on the streets of San Diego. His young daughter, on the other hand, wants to be a fighter just like her father used to be. The only scary thing about it all is that Animal Man knows that his daughter's power is even greater than his.
When his daughter starts to flex her animalistic muscle, it attracts the attention of an ancient evil that plans to use her to bring down the entire world. This volume ends with Animal Man and his family fleeing this ancient evil, setting up a showdown in later issues of the comic.
Travel Foreman brings gore to the forefront with his illustrations in this volume. If you're squeamish or can't handle rotting corpses or zombie-like creations, stay away. I had my doubts about this book when I first got it and flipped through the pages, as the artwork leads one to believe that this is nothing more than a blood and guts goofest. However, Lemire makes the story work amidst all of the gore.
Overall, I'm excited to see how this tale ends. The ending left things wide open, and hysteria is chomping at the bit.
Recommended, although only for older audiences, as some of the action might scare youngsters.
Lemire and Foreman's New 52 relaunch of the marginally-read series gets beautifully illustrated and a scary-great look. This time, Animal Man's younger daughter finds herself exhibiting her own, creepy abilities, and "The Red" calling out for something. As Buddy's family twists to outrun this newer, bigger terror, there is no escape, or solution, to a new reality for them. More horror than superhero, it is a wonderful trip back to when Warren published Creepy and Eerie, filled with top talent. Darkly intense, Animal Man's family tales of reanimating pieces of dead pets is adult, and can't-put-down stuff. This collected first volume of Buddy Baker's bizarre odyssey begs to be examined slowly, each panel well-thought out and as perfectly executed as a David Lynch nightmare.
Animal Man has really, really evolved into a gorgeous freakfest.
Before reading ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT, I had never read the series before. However, I was familiar with the character and Grant Morrison's run of the series. For instance, I know that Animal Man is, perhaps the most meta-comic published by a mainstream comics publisher (even more so than Marvel's Deadpool; Deadpool breaks the 4th wall a lot, but at one point in his life Animal Man knew his life was just a comic book). I also knew that Animal Man (aka Buddy Baker) isn't the usual crime fighter. He tends to fight social issues as well as injustices against animals, not just people. He's also happily married and has kids. Also, unlike many other superheroes, his real identity isn't a secret. Knowing what I knew about the character, I was looking forward to reading ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT.
This collection begins with an article that looks like it was taken directly out of The Believer magazine about Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man. It turns out that Buddy is reading about himself in the magazine. I've read The Believer and the article looks exactly like the interviews that appear in it. Buddy is starring in an upcoming movie and is doing a lot of publicity to promote it. He hasn't done in crime fighting in a while and decides to do so that night. He saves the life of a child that's used as a hostage in a hospital. Afterwards, he notices that his eyes are bleeding. Later, strange red markings/tattoos begin appearing on his body. Not only that, but his daughter, Maxine, is exhibiting superpowers of her own. Something is Rotten in the state of Denmark and Buddy and Maxine are in the middle of it. The two of them are being hunted by three grotesque creatures known as the Hunters Three. They seek to devour, absorb, and turn Buddy and Maxine to their own bidding.
The artwork for the story is fantastic. However, much of it is rather grotesque and gory. Until recently, ANIMAL MAN was mostly a Vertigo comic, a DC brand devoted to more horror-type stories. Much of the artwork reminded me of the old EC Comics. There's lots of blood, internal body parts, resurrected animals, and zombiefied creatures. Many readers won't have a problem with any of this, but it might be for younger readers and those who have no knowledge of Animal Man.
Overall, the story is a good one. I like the idea of Maxine having supernatural abilities and having to be trained and tutored by her father. Despite being a superhero, Buddy Baker has first and foremost been a fairly average man that is devoted to his family. It's just that he doesn't live a normal life (in many ways the character reminds me of THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO and what life for Ralph Hanley would have been like later on). The fact that he has to now train and tutor his daughter whose powers are far greater than his own adds an interesting twist to the dynamic. I also like the idea of Animal Man have to team up with the Swamp Thing to fight a villain.
With that said, I really don't like the idea behind The Rot and all that it represents. The Rot seems too much like a villain from a bad science fiction-horror movie. It's actually kind of hokey and with all the events that happened with the "Blackest Night" and "Brightest Day" storylines, the entire concept seems out of place. It's as though there's too much magic and not enough science.
Nevertheless, ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT is an engaging story and one that's worth reading.
on July 30, 2012
We find Buddy Baker at a pretty good spot in his life. He has a nice suburban home with his wife and two kids. He's still got the ability to call upon animal powers such as the strength of a rhino or the flight of a bird. He's even landed a gig in a small indie flick called "Tights". But when it seems that Buddy's daughter is developing powers similar to his, the family is placed in peril by some truly hideous freaks that are agents of "the Rot". The best part of Lemire's new start for Animal Man is the dynamics of the Baker family in their quiet moments and in their peril. Buddy's son wants to help his dad make an audition tape for the Justice League, his daughter wants a pet, and Mom plays her sons video games to unwind from the stress of having a "superhero" as a husband. Unfortunately the Animal Man mythos is not grounded on the same plane as the family and as the story drifts into the ethereal the book becomes disjointed.
In Animal Man there are three realms of note: the "Red" where all life of flesh and blood originates and where Buddy summons his powers, the "Green" which is the essence of Earth's plant life, and the darker side known as the "Rot". When Buddy's daughter Maxine begins to show signs of super powers, the Rot sends his hunters after the family. Perhaps the best way to describe the hunters would be "flailing guts monsters" or "unnatural flesh goops"...with legs. They eat animal flesh, man flesh, any flesh. They consume it, reform it, puke it out, and somehow they manage to body-snatch people in some truly skin-crawling fashion. Travel Foreman has created some truly hideous machinations of bone and flesh: think the Body World Exhibit meets Cronenberg's the Fly.
But the other half of the story takes place in the spiritual realm known as the"Red" as Buddy tries to discover the nature of his abilities and those newly developed by Maxine. Here we see a realm of weird trees made of tendons and veins and we hear stories of the previous Animal Men. "They were once men and women of fragile flesh and bone just like you. Just as we all were as well." It's certainly a solid mythos, but it's too vague, spiritual, and ungrounded when placed alongside the world that Buddy Baker's family resides. These sections of story tend to drag on in exposition and attempts to display the Rot's motivations.
Which leads to the central problem with the series: Animal Man doesn't have a villain to fight. What is the Rot? Well, it's a force of nature...sort of? Can you punch that? Sure, the family is pursued by some hideously AWESOME monsters but even their background is really wishy-washy: "Some call if the antidote to life. Others the darkness under all...we call this place the rot. And there they became twisted and hideously reborn as the hunters three."
Although, Animal Man is set in "The New 52" DC Universe. It's a story of its own. There are only small mentions of the Justice League, no super-villains or heroes make any cameos, and pretty much it's free of continuity mumbo jumbo. As a companion piece I would highly recommend Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones (The New 52). Alec Holland faces a similar threat in his story and eventually Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire plan to have a larger cross-over for these two books.
Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt collects issues #1-6. The book features some Animal Man design sketches and cover sketches in the back.
on September 1, 2013
New 52! Good story centering on the title character's daughter and her new powers eclipsing that of her father's-- surprised this made it out the doors of DC unscathed. Have to wait and see if the series continues focusing on her as the savior of the planet and Animal Man as the, err, sidekick and protective father, or if it takes an about-turn.
The art style, by all artists involved, is fantastic and attention-grabbing in a way I haven't seen in comics in a long time--possibly since Middleton did NYX. The art style does vary but it seems all artists after the first one do try to stay closer to his style. Lots of acid-tripping-type gooey bodies and lots of different animals put together into one creature-type stuff.
If you're a parent buying this series for your child, definitely buy it, but read it first to figure out how you want to discuss the nature of evil as presented in this book and if they're ready for dead animals rising from the grave in advanced states of decomp, animals attacking people and each other, graphic demonic possession, or really just all the gore that's the decor of the, uh, alternate universe they travel to 'inside the Blood'.
DC comics lost me as a regular reader with the incomprehensible mess that was Final Crisis. Since then I have not been lured back, and I have read none of the new 52 re-launches. Until now.
I was a huge fan of Grant Morrison's incredible, genre-defining run on Animal Man and less so on Peter Milligan's and Jamie Delano's follow-up series. I try to keep up with the character as I can--I read The Last Days of Animal Man, although I was disappointed by it. I was interested to see how Buddy Baker and his animal powers would be incorporated into the new 52 universe, and I was glad to have the opportunity to review this.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed again. From this first trade that collections issues #1-6, I get the sense that writer Jeff Lemire doesn't really have a grasp of the character yet. There is a push to get the story right into the action, sacrificing character and story in favor of shock and gross-out. The parts that make Buddy Baker unique in a world of ubiquitous costumed heroes--his family, his home life, his connection with nature--are shown but only as decoration instead of the meat of the story.
Lemire tries to merge some of the oddness of Morrison and Milligan's run with the regular continuity of the DC Universe. Back is The Red, the animal realm analogous to The Green, the plant world occupied by the Swamp Thing. Just as in Delano's run, Animal Man is the living avatar of The Red--or is he? The story hints that Buddy Baker is nothing more than a seed sown to raise the true crop, his daughter Maxine.
Lemire also assumes too much; for a book intended to be a launching point for new readers, there is little establishment and background. He just assumes that everyone will know who Animal Man is, how his powers work, what his origin is--I have all of that background, but I can see from several of the reviews here that not everyone does. Lemire also doesn't play with the full range of Buddy Baker's powers. Morrison was a wiz at bringing in exotic animals and using them in interesting ways, such as absorbing the time sense of a fly. Lemire keeps it in easily recognizable animals.
I found Travel Forman's art to be effective, but a little too horror focused. Forman is someone who should be drawing B.P.R.D., not "Animal Man." I think the book would have benefited from a cleaner style. Forman draws fantastic monsters, and his scenes of The Rot are delicious, bulging with horror. But his ability to handle the domestic issues of the Baker family are not so skillfully handled. There is horror everywhere, which lessons the impact when the monsters come bursting in.
It is also unfortunate that this is not a self-contained volume, one that crosses over with Swamp Thing no less. For a jump -on series, a self-contained story for the first volume would have been a better bet. This collection wasn't terrible, but it certainly didn't lure me to continue the series.
This collection was my first exposure to Animal Man. While I have read comics off and on for years, I never encountered this character. I decided to give it a shot, as this was a relaunch of the franchise.
As a introduction to the character and Animal Man universe, this works well. It's clear there was some mythos that it was drawing on, but for the most part the writer makes everything understandable. It appears that some of the mythology is being rewritten a bit, which even Animal Man himself points out in the pages. The artwork is good and I liked the character designs. Animal Man's wife feels unique and not a generic female in a comic book. Some of the more fantastical images can be confusing to decipher, but on the whole the art enhances the story.
So why did I give it 3 stars? The story didn't click with me. While I liked the idea of the everyman character of Animal Man, the whole plotline of going to the source of his power and learning more about his daughter didn't appeal to me. It isn't the fault of the writer or the artist. Some stories just don't work for everyone. I don't plan on reading more of this series.