Animal Man #1 (DC) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Animal Man #1

DC

Written by Jeff Lemire; art by Travel Foreman (penciller, co-inker, and cover), Dan Green (co-inker), and Lovern Kindzierski (colorist)

Sep 12, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


I had always dismissed Animal Man as a second rate hero until a couple of years ago I was encouraged to read Grant Morrison’s amazing late ‘80s/early ‘90s run, which eventually became very meta, breaking the fourth wall so that Animal Man realized he was a character in a comic book and even meets his writer, Morrison. So it’s somewhat fitting that Animal Man #1 ties Morrison’s Action Comics #1 as the best issue of the first full week of DC’s New 52 re-launch.

This new Animal Man is written by Jeff Lemire, so my hopes were already high that it would be good. Lemire’s post-apocalyptic animal/boy hybrid tale Sweet Tooth, over at Vertigo, remains compelling and affecting. But his recent work on Superboy, while good, didn’t really quite bear Lemire’s stamp, it felt more like a fun, but disposable superhero comic, understandably lacking the depth and character development the writer/artist has brought to the Essex County trilogy and Sweet Tooth. As with Superboy, Lemire only acts as a writer here, with Travel Forman handling the art.

Right off the bat, Animal Man #1 feels more like a Vertigo comic than a mainstream DC one. The opening page, after all, is fake interview with Animal Man (aka Buddy Baker) from the ultra-indie/hipster magazine The Believer. It’s actually an effective way to reintroduce the character and you find out right there on page one that the Buddy Baker in the new DC universe is still married with two kids, hasn’t been as active as a superhero, has been an animal rights activist, has been embraced as a pop culture icon by young left-leaning hipsters, and has recently starred in an indie film (his first acting experience, although he used to be a stuntman) and is being touted to be nominated for awards for his performance. Yeah, from page one it definitely feels like a hip indie comic.

As with Morrison’s take, a big part of Lemire’s first issue centers on the interactions between Buddy and his family. His wife actually encourages him to partake in more superheroics and his daughter wants them to get a pet dog, but Buddy says it’ll mess with his powers to have an animal in the house at all times (Animal Man borrows the characteristics of animals to give him his powers). But the issue isn’t all domestic, he dons the costume for some crime-fighting at some point. And the meat of the issue comes from an eerie and terrifying nightmare Buddy has about his family and the disturbing twist at the end of the issue that sets up what will hopefully be a very interesting run on Animal Man for Lemire.

Foreman’s art is striking and kinetic and also has an indie feel to it. The dream sequence is effectively rendered in black & white with well-placed splashes of color. And some strange creatures in the nightmare look particularly disturbing.

If only all the New 52 comics could be as adult and three dimensional as Animal Man #1. Morrison wrote Animal Man for 26 issues, here’s hoping that Lemire sticks with the character for at least that long. (www.dccomics.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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Mike Clarke
September 12th 2011
8:05pm

Mark:
Great review. We’re on the same page here.  I agree that this is one of the most interesting and exciting of the NEW 52 books from DC.  I wrote a similar review to yours at our blogsite.

Jeremy Nisen
September 12th 2011
9:11pm

Spot on.