Animal Man (Book One) by Grant Morrison

details
Title: Animal Man.
Book: One.
Writer(s): Grant Morrison.
Illustrator(s): Chas Truog & Tom Grummett.
Colourist(s): Tatjana WoodHelen Vesik.
Publisher: Vertigo.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: December 18th 2018.
Pages: 368.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401285470.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

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DC Comics is filled with heroes that have either proven to the world their trustworthiness or their uselessness. In the face of grave danger, some vanquish evil with their mere reputation while others struggle to be relevant to the eye of the enemy. It, however, remains that they are all heroes, one way or another. Whether it is through their actions or through their words, they all showcase a hefty amount of unrecalled wisdom that promotes the adoption of a grounded and open-minded vision of the world. One hero who has only been known as the laughing stock of the DC Universe is Animal Man. Initially created by writer Dave Wood and artist Carmine Infantino, this hero barely ever managed to stay relevant during the pre-Crisis era since his first appearance in 1965. It is only after the famous Crisis on Infinite Earths event that DC brought back to life several minor characters and gave them a sweet revamp that will ultimately put them back on everyone’s radar. And for Animal Man, it will all be thanks to the legendary Grant Morrison.

What is Animal Man about? Collecting the first half of Grant Morrison’s run, from issues #1-13, as well as Secret Origins #39, the book follows Buddy Baker in his pursuit of becoming an A-list superhero. Currently a second-rate superhero, a devoted father and an animal rights activist, Buddy Baker is also known as Animal Man, an individual with the power to momentarily borrow the abilities of animals that are in his immediate vicinity. Whether it is a bird’s flight or an elephant’s might, Buddy Baker connects with these creatures and looks to do some good within society while he deals with countless real-life issues and moral dilemmas. As he attempts to secure a spot among the Justice League in order to provide for his family and lend a hand to the world, he quickly finds himself in the middle of some of the most bizarre and ongoing extraterrestrial schemes. Thanks to Grant Morrison’s visionary and unpredictable take on the character, Animal Man finds himself delivering a much more satisfying and commendable impression.

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When it comes to Grant Morrison, there’s nothing predictable in his stories. They always have an underlying ominous direction with an offbeat touch as a coating to his stories which often represents his signature style. What he ultimately accomplishes with this hero highlights the best parts of his storytelling abilities and shows that there couldn’t have been a better person to accomplish this unimaginable task. While there’s something comical integrated within Buddy Baker’s character and life, Grant Morrison also injects some thought-provoking aspects to his lore that instantly turns the hero into a relevant personage within the DC universe. To further add to the quirkiness of the hero, other heroes who are slightly better-known also make an appearance to further establish Animal Man’s place in the hero game. How he evolves throughout the story and reflects on his role to better serve the world while prioritizing his role as a father also gives him an interesting angle to explore as most heroes back in that day had to deal with a secret identity, while Animal benefits from a life completely exposed to the world.

The artwork conveys a recognizable 90s comic book visual style that is marked with flashy colours and recurrent use of a six-panel frame. In his comic book run with Animal Run, Grant Morrison is helped with talented Chas Truog and Tom Grummett’s penciling that does a wonderful job in creating fantastic and traditional character designs that are easy to follow. With consistent artwork from cover to cover, the story is also easier to digest and understand. The transition between scenes is also particularly fascinating with creative ways to change from one scenario to another. Splash pages are also sparingly used and mostly present to surprise the reader with unexpected appearances as they give the characters the room needed to fully showcase themselves. There are also some visionary artistic decisions made to explore beyond the square panels and into the edges of the pages that offer the creative team the extra space to explore the character and his stories. It’s safe to say that Grant Morrison didn’t shy away from his unconventional ways when given the opportunity to do what he wants with the character.

Animal Man (Book One) is a fantastic 30th anniversary deluxe edition that covers half of Grant Morrison’s impressive revamp of a forgettable hero with a burgeoning radicalism regarding animal rights and a fever to do good although bound by familial needs.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and DC Comics for sending me a copy for review!

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26 comments

  • Oh, man, and here I thought he was thankfully a quirk of the past 😉 I think I’ll abstain from reading this comic despite your kind words about it – not that I don’t believe you, but Animal Man… (shudders) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • He sort of still is since there are no ongoing series that has him as a protagonist. ;P Grant Morrison’s run was the only really “revolutionizing” one and I wouldn’t exactly recommend this to just about everyone either hahah There are much more interesting series to check out by him. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • Well Lashaan I had no idea who this Animal Man before reading this! Goind from laughing stock of DC comics heroes to someone worthy to follow is quite an achievement I’d say. Now presonally the art is not the best I have seen on your blog. Some other comics had me really in awe but this one leaves me quite cold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haahaha I’m pretty sure most people will have never heard of him too. While he was revamped into a character that is a bit more interesting, he still isn’t someone as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman, for example. I totally understand for the art style. It is a style from the 90s that was quite commonly used before the modern day art style came to be. 😀

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  • I like that we now have such a thing as a second rate super hero! I mean if Ant Man can be a thing why not Animal Man. I’m not sure this is a super power that I would want if I’m being honest. Imagine a human being hit with a dog’s sense of smell? I bet it’d be a horror show.

    I really love that colour! The yellow still being painted in is really striking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaahh agreed! That dog’s sense of smell comment made me laugh 😛 I do have to mention that Animal Man chooses what animal’s power he wants and unless he wants to track down someone, I think he’d be wise enough to stay away from that ability hahahah Glad to hear your appreciation for the colours! It’s often very flashy and rarely plays with gradients too.

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  • Another wonderful and insightful review good sir! I’m not the biggest Grant Morrison fan but I’m always open to trying his stuff out (I keep meaning to check out Zenith, which is considered his best work for 2000ad – the British sci-fi anthology comic that features Judge Dredd) and enjoyed some of his work – I think Batman: Gothic is probably the best for me as it’s not overly Morrison-y if you get what I mean?

    Animal Man is something I always heard about in passing and you’re review has, once again, piqued my interest – I like the take on the concept and the art is appealingly classic. I didn’t realise it was published via the Vertigo imprint as well so that adds points – looks like I might be adding it to the list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris! It’s actually the first time I’m hearing about Zenith. I’m more knowledgeable of his DC/Vertigo content though hahah Definitely interested now that you mention it. You also reminded me that I need to check out some of that super long Judge Dredd series. But yes. Morrison can get quite Morrison-y in a lot of his series and so far I find that he loved to explore cosmic things with heroes that you’d never have seen on a cosmic-level. 😮

      Glad to put Animal Man on your radar, but be aware that it has some Morrison moments, but not the worse out there. I believe Animal Man was initially a DC Comics hero but it was then brought into the Vertigo imprint after Morrison’s run. And now, it’s called DC Vertigo since Vertigo’s reboot a couple months ago.

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      • Oh I’m definitely open minded about Morrison and willing to overlook his more ‘wackier’ moments of the overall story has value.

        Man, I think you would love Judge Dredd but recommend researching what stories to pick up as some of the really early stuff is…odd and lacks the nuance of later stuff like “America”. Have you seen the Karl Urban Dredd film? That’d be a good test to see if the character/world is of interest.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I only vaguely remember Stallone’s version of Judge Dredd hahahah I think there was too many mixed reviews for Karl Urban’s version and it sort of had me keeping a distance from it. I’m definitely intrigued by that character/world though. I just know that the comic books are complicated… and the series is super long as well.

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