Review: Animal Man #1

Published on September 12th, 2011

I don’t know much about Animal Man. When I read DC, he was never a character that I knew about. Ok, well, that isn’t entirely true. I knew him as the guy in the lame costume with the weird triangle goggles. That was about the extent of my knowledge on the character, but Buddy Baker a.k.a. Animal Man is a cool concept, and if done right he could really be a hit. In one of the first “New 52,” writer Jeff Lemire and artist Travel Forman bring a more grounded, back-to-basics version of a superhero to the proverbial field. But does this book run with the pack or should it make like the dodo and disappear? Read on to find out.

Buddy “Animal Man” Baker has been many different things in his life. He has been a stuntman, actor, activist, superhero, husband and father. What he seems to be now is confused, with no real direction. I can understand that a bit, as I myself am, like many other Americans, looking for a job (DC! call me!). Buddy, all in all, seems to just be trying to do the right thing no matter what it is he does. I have to give it to Lemire on his writing in this book. He has really allowed me to like Buddy – to both empathize with him and to feel a part of a story that, while it’s just starting, feels like I have been reading it for ages. This kind of comfortableness doesn’t happen often with new books. Score another one for DC.

The story itself starts off pretty normally, getting to know his family and its dynamic.The first page actually has an interview-style
article to allow new readers an insight into who Buddy is. We see that he is still somewhat trying to figure out who he is and how he fits into his own life. He then has a quick throwdown at a local hospital and this, my friends, is where Lemire gets freaky on us. It isn’t in a bad way, mind you, just a bit disturbing. Things quickly go from weird to weirder when Buddy returns home to sleep and has a crazy dark dream that is written like a dark chapter in a Stephen King novel. Want even more weird? Good, because the last page is back in the real world, where Buddy’s wife has found their daughter outside playing with re-animated dead pets. This is creepy and almost clashes against the clean beautiful lines that Foreman’s art brings to this book.

Final Verdict: Animal Man roars into the DCnU with both ease of understanding of a character and dark overtones that make this book interesting and slightly disturbing… which sets this book apart, not only from any other DCnU book, but also any book out there!

Sheldon Lee