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

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 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

About the Author

Grant Morrison has authored too many bestselling graphic novels to count. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Doom Patrol, Animal Farm, Flex Mentallo and the Invisibles are just a few of the books with which Morrison has established himself as one of the modern masters of the medium.

Brian Bolland is best known to US readers for his ground-breaking work with writer Alan Moore on the one-shot Batman: Killing Joke graphic novel. Kevin O'Neill Along with fellow 2000 AD alumni Pat Mills, O'Neill cocreated the cult hero Marshall Law and had even more success when he teamed up with Alan Moore to illustrate The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - which was adapted into a big budget Hollywood movie starring Sean Connery. Simon Bisley's highly dynamic artwork made his two major series in the Galaxy's Greatest Comic - A.B.C. Warriors: The Black Hole and Slaine: The Horned God - hugely popular, as they remain to date. He also illustrated the hugely successful first Batman/Judge Dredd crossover story, Judgement on Gotham. Steve Dillon is a fan-favourite 2000 AD writer and artist, and the creator of both Hap Hazzard and the Irish Judge Joyce. Together with 2000 AD writer Garth Ennis, Steve co-created the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Preacher for DC Comics' imprint, Vertigo.
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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 (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
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 someday.
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Animal Man volume three collapses the fourth wall and the panel; Morrison uses Crises on Infinite Earth as a way to reimagine the multiverse and the relationship of characters to comic creators. Furthermore, elements from issues nine forward start to make more and more sense as the story arc is wrapped up and some of the earlier rushed stories seemed to add into something. The utter destruction of the fourth wall and the extreme meta-textuality works here because the character and plot have built up to it, and because it allows Morrison to comment on many of the flaws he saw in superhero comics in the 1980s. This is not to say every element hits, it doesn't. Some plot lines seem too on the nose, and Morrison's conversation with Buddy in the book have some obvious and weighted philosophical commitments that are in keeping with the characters but seem a little cliche now.

The art is competent but not particularly ground-breaking, and the meta-textual elements are not as fresh now and a little too dead on. That said, it was definitely groundbreaking in 1989-1990 and did deconstruct the superhero in an early different way than say Alan Moore or Frank Miller. For those who enjoyed the first two volumes but felt a little underwhelmed, I think most will think this pays off. For those who did not enjoy the meta-textual elements, well, this won't be their cup of tea.
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Grant Morrison's run on this classic title comes to an end in this volume, and boy does he go out with a bang. This was easily the best of the first three volumes.

In this volume, two major things happen. Animal Man goes on a quest to figure out the weird events that happened to him in Africa. It is so wonderfully weird you won't be able to avoid laughing along while you read. Second, the Psycho Pirate comes back and deals with the fallout from the Crisis of Infinite Earths. It starts out fun, and then turns into one of the most heart-warming scenes I've read in comics.

This definitely belongs in Vertigo's all time greats list.
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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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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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