Animal Man is one of those characters that you may have heard of recently due to his success with his new ongoing series as part of the DC New 52 reboot in August. The Animal Man that this article will be focusing on is Grant Morrison’s 26 issue run from 1988 to 1990.
Animal Man is Buddy Baker. Buddy has the ability to mimic any animal’s ability. From flying without wings, to breathing underwater without gills, Animal Man can use his animal powers in most situations to allow escape or to win a fight.
The early issues of Animal Man have Buddy Baker serving as an animal rights activist. He tries to stop dolphin slaughters, animal testing, and even becomes a vegetarian. These beginning issues are fine and include plenty of action to keep readers interested. The series really starts to shine when the subplot of Buddy Baker realizing that he’s inside a comic book comes to light. There are hints in the early issues of characters knowing that they are inside a story, but Buddy really only takes notice once his entire family is slaughtered.
A character called the Psycho Pirate is another character that realizes he’s just a character. He begins to imagine a bunch of C-list superheroes and superheroes from throughout the mulitverse that were not written about for years.
Although Animal Man is being told throughout the series that he’s just a character, he doesn’t believe it for himself until he meets Grant Morrison, the writer for the run in the final issue. Morrison preaches to Buddy about how realistic comics have become while he himself is a self insert.
The series also features many cameos by other DC Universe heroes. Superman, Ted Kord, and Vixen all make an appearance. The Martian Manhunter is almost a regular and Booster Gold makes an occasional appearance throughout the series.
Animal Man by Grant Morrison is a series that is serious in tone, but deals with ridiculous concepts. A superhero realizing that he’s just ink on a paper creates some unique situations not often seen in comics.
All images used belong to DC Comics.