Animal Man (comic book)

Last updated
Animal Man
Animalman1.png
Cover to Animal Man (volume 1) #1 by Brian Bolland.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Vertigo
ScheduleMonthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Superhero, horror
Publication date(vol. 1)
September 1988 – November 1995
(vol. 2)
September 2011 – March 2014
No. of issues(vol. 1): 89 and 1 Annual
(vol. 2): 30 (#1–29 plus issue numbered 0) and 2 Annuals
Main character(s) Animal Man
Creative team
Created by Grant Morrison
Chas Truog

Animal Man is a superhero comic book ongoing series published by DC Comics starring the superhero Animal Man. The series is best known for the run by writer Grant Morrison from issue #1 to #26 with penciller Chas Truog who stayed on the series until #32.

Contents

Animal Man was innovative in its advocacy and for its use of themes including social consciousness (with a focus on animal rights), metaphysics, deconstruction of the superhero genre and comic book form, postmodernism, eccentric plot twists, explorations of cosmic spirituality and mysticism, the determination of apparent free will by a higher power, and manipulation of reality including quantum physics, unified field theory, time travel and metafictional technique. The series is well-known for its frequently psychedelic and "off-the-wall" content. [1]

A majority of the series' cover art was done by Brian Bolland, often portraying intentionally unusual or shocking imagery with no text blurbs.

Grant Morrison would return to the character Animal Man in 52 .

Publication history

Although the series was initially conceived as a four-issue limited series, it was upgraded into an ongoing series following strong sales.

The series was released in DC's high-quality New Format, and was published without the Comics Code Authority seal of approval. When DC launched its Vertigo imprint in 1993, Animal Man was moved to the imprint beginning with issue #57. [1]

Grant Morrison's run (1988–1990)

Morrison developed several long-running plots, introducing mysteries, some of which were not explained until a year or two later. The title featured the protagonist both in and—increasingly—out of costume. Morrison made the title character an everyman figure living in a universe populated by superheroes, aliens, and fantastic technology. Buddy's wife Ellen, his son Cliff (9 years old at the beginning of the series), and his daughter Maxine (5 years old) featured prominently in most storylines, and his relationship with them as husband and father was an ongoing theme.

The series championed vegetarianism and animal rights, causes Morrison themself supported. In one issue, Buddy helps a band of self-confessed eco-terrorists save a pod of dolphins. Enraged at a fisherman's brutality, Buddy drops him into the ocean, intending for him to drown. The man is saved by a dolphin.

Buddy fought several menaces, such as an ancient, murderous spirit that was hunting him; brutal, murderous alien Thanagarian warriors; and even the easily defeated red robots of an elderly villain who was tired of life. The series made deep, sometimes esoteric, reference to the entire DC canon, including B'wana Beast, Mirror Master, and Arkham Asylum.

Post-Morrison (1990–1993)

Following Morrison's run, Peter Milligan wrote a 6-issue story (#27–32) featuring several surreal villains and heroes, exploring questions about identity and quantum physics and utilizing the textual cut-up technique popularized by William S. Burroughs.

Tom Veitch and Steve Dillon then took over for 18 issues (#33–50) in which Buddy returns to his work as a movie stuntman and explores mystical totemic aspects of his powers.

Jamie Delano wrote 29 issues (#51–79) with Steve Pugh as artist, giving the series a more horror-influenced feel with a "suggested for mature readers" label on the cover.

Vertigo (1993–1995)

After Jamie Delano's first six issues, wherein, among other things, he killed off the central character of Buddy Baker, created the "Red" and resurrected Buddy as an "animal avatar" (analogous to the "Green" of Swamp Thing), the series became one of the charter titles of DC's new mature readers Vertigo imprint with #57, and its ties to the DC Universe became more tenuous. Vertigo was establishing itself as a distinct "mini-universe" with its own continuity, only occasionally interacting with the continuity of the regular DC Universe. The title evolved into a more horror-themed book, with Buddy eventually shapeshifting into a non-human animal god. The superhero elements of the book were largely removed — since Buddy was reborn as a kind of animal elemental, and legally deceased, he discarded his costume, stopped associating with other heroes, and generally abandoned his crime-fighting role. He co-founded the Life Power Church of Maxine to further an environmentalist message, drifting along U.S. Route 66 to settle in Montana. Delano's final issue was #79, culminating in Buddy dying several more times.

Between issues #66 and #67, Delano also penned the Animal Man Annual #1, focusing on Buddy's daughter Maxine. It was the third part of Vertigo's attempt to create a crossover event titled "The Children's Crusade". This event ran across the Annuals of the five then-Vertigo titles – Animal Man, Swamp Thing , Black Orchid , The Books of Magic and Doom Patrol – book-ended by two Children's Crusade issues co-written by Neil Gaiman, and starring his Dead Boy Detectives.

A brief run by Jerry Prosser and Fred Harper (#80–89) featured a re-reborn Buddy as a white-haired shamanistic figure before the series was canceled after the 89th issue due to declining sales.

Return to DC (2011–2014)

In July 2009, DC Comics released a six-issue limited series The Last Days of Animal Man by Gerry Conway and Chris Batista. The series takes place in the year 2024 and addresses a Buddy Baker who is losing both his family and his powers.

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity, which included merging the Vertigo universe into DC's. In this new timeline, Animal Man is re-established for DC by the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire and artists Travel Foreman and Dan Green. [2] [3] The series follows Buddy and his family as his daughter Maxine begins to display powers of necromancy-based animal control. [4] Buddy is then forced to go on a journey to discover the source of this power and his own. He finds it in a life force known as the "Red", the animal counterpart to the "Green" from Swamp Thing. Much like the Green, there have been multiple creatures chosen to represent the Red over the years; a few became evil and became part of what is known as the "Rot". [5] This led into a crossover between Swamp Thing and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. titled "Rotworld".

"Nature of reality" as a theme

Breaking the fourth wall; cover to Animal Man #19, art by Brian Bolland. Animal man 19.jpg
Breaking the fourth wall; cover to Animal Man #19, art by Brian Bolland.

During his run on the title, Morrison consistently manipulated and deconstructed the fourth wall — the imaginary barrier separating the reader from the setting of the story which also extends to the characters and their creators. One visual expression of this theme was to present characters in a state of partial erasure — often juxtaposing the artist's pencil drafts with the finished art. Additionally, some characters become aware that they are being viewed by a vast audience, and are able to interact with the borders of the panels on the page. The series notably contained overt references to the various Earths of the pre-Crisis DC Multiverse.

Issue #5, "The Coyote Gospel", features Crafty, a thinly disguised Wile E. Coyote (of the Road Runner cartoons). [1] Weary of the endless cycle of violence which he and his cartoon compatriots are subject to, Crafty appeals to his cartoonist creator. A bargain is struck: he can end the violence only by willingly being condemned to leave his cartoon world, entering Animal Man's "comic" world instead. The issue concludes with a series of "pull-back" shots beginning with a close-up of Crafty's bleeding body (and white blood), culminating with a panel depicting the cartoonist's immense hand, coloring Crafty's blood with red paint. The issue is partly a religious allegory and partly a juxtaposition of the various layers of reality: cartoon to comic book, comic book to real life. It was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.

The culmination of this self-referentiality is Animal Man's eventual discovery that all of the inhabitants of the DC universe are fictional characters. He even meets Grant Morrison, the callous "god" who controls his life.

Buddy suffers a tragedy when his wife and children are brutally murdered while he is away on a case. [6] Buddy tracks down the killers to exact vengeance. His search leads him into a comic book Limbo, a plane of residence for characters who are not actively written about. Animal Man ultimately confronts his writer in issue #26, and his family is restored to life, as Morrison finds he cannot justify keeping them dead simply for the sake of "realism". [7]

Grant Morrison also explains to Buddy that they write him as a vegetarian only because they themself are a vegetarian too, and every trait Baker possesses could be changed at a whim. Morrison said: "They might do the obvious and go for shock by turning you into a meat-eater". In issue #27, the first of Peter Milligan's run, Buddy indeed bites into a horse.

Awards

Brian Bolland won the Eisner Award for Best Cover Artist in 1992 for his work on Animal Man. [8] The series also earned several nominations in 1989, for Best Single Issue (#5), Best Writer (Grant Morrison), and Best Series. [9]

Collected editions

Grant Morrison's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man, Book 1 – Animal Man240Animal Man (vol. 1) #1–9PaperbackMay 1, 2001 Vertigo 978-1563890055
Animal Man, Book 2 – Origin of the Species224Animal Man (vol. 1) #10–17, Secret Origins #39PaperbackJuly 1, 2002 Vertigo 978-1563898907
Animal Man, Book 3 – Deus Ex Machina232Animal Man (vol. 1) #18–26PaperbackNovember 1, 2003 Vertigo 978-1563899683
The Animal Man Omnibus712Animal Man (vol. 1) #1–26, Secret Origins #39HardcoverAugust 6, 2013 Vertigo 978-1401238995
Animal Man by Grant Morrison 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Book One368Animal Man (vol. 1) #1–13, Secret Origins #39HardcoverDecember 12, 2018 Vertigo 978-1401285470
Peter Milligan's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man Vol. 4: Born to be Wild288Animal Man (vol. 1) #27–37PaperbackFebruary 26, 2013 Vertigo 978-1401238018
Tom Veitch's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man Vol. 5: The Meaning of Flesh360Animal Man (vol. 1) #38–50PaperbackJanuary 28, 2014 Vertigo 978-1401242848
Jamie Delano's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man Vol. 6: Flesh and Blood368Animal Man (vol. 1) #51–63PaperbackJuly 15, 2014 Vertigo 978-1401246792
Animal Man Vol. 7: Red Plague408Animal Man (vol. 1) #64–79PaperbackJanuary 20, 2015 Vertigo 9781401251239
Jerry Prosser's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man Vol. 8: An Altered State of MindTBAAnimal Man (vol. 1) #80–89PaperbackTBA Vertigo TBA
Gerry Conway: The Last Days of Animal Man
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
The Last Days of Animal Man144The Last Days of Animal Man #1–6PaperbackMarch 9, 2010 DC Comics 978-1401226404
Jeff Lemire's run
TitlePagesMaterial collectedFormatPublication datePublisherISBN
Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt144Animal Man (vol. 2) #1–6PaperbackMay 8, 2012 DC Comics 978-1401235079
Animal Man Vol. 2: Animal vs. Man176Animal Man (vol. 2) #7–11, #0, Annual #1PaperbackJanuary 15, 2013 DC Comics 978-1401238001
Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom232Animal Man (vol. 2) #12–19, Swamp Thing #12, 17PaperbackSeptember 10, 2013 DC Comics 978-1401242626
Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species144Animal Man (vol. 2) #20–23, Annual #2PaperbackMarch 11, 2014 DC Comics 978-1401246440
Animal Man Vol. 5: Evolve or Die144Animal Man (vol. 2) #24–29PaperbackNovember 11, 2014 DC Comics 978-1401249946
Animal Man by Jeff Lemire Omnibus816Animal Man (vol. 2) #0–29, Annual #1–2, Swamp Thing #12 and #17HardcoverDecember 10, 2019 DC Comics 978-1401289416

Related Research Articles

Vertigo Comics Imprint of comic-book publisher DC Comics

Vertigo Comics, also known as DC Vertigo or simply Vertigo, was an imprint of American comic book publisher DC Comics started by editor Karen Berger in 1993. Vertigo's purpose was to publish comics with adult content, such as nudity, drug use, profanity, and graphic violence, that did not fit the restrictions of DC's main line, thus allowing more creative freedom. Its titles consisted of company-owned comics set in the DC Universe, such as The Sandman and Hellblazer, and creator-owned works, such as Preacher, Y: The Last Man and Fables. The Vertigo branding was retired in 2020, and most of its library transitioned to DC Black Label.

<i>Hellblazer</i> 1988–2020 comic book series

John Constantine, Hellblazer is an American contemporary horror comic-book series published by DC Comics since January 1988, and subsequently by its Vertigo imprint since March 1993, when the imprint was introduced. Its central character is the streetwise magician John Constantine, who was created by Alan Moore and Stephen R. Bissette, and first appeared as a supporting character in Swamp Thing #37, during that creative team's run on that title. Hellblazer had been published continuously since January 1988, and was Vertigo's longest-running title, the only remaining publication from the imprint's launch. In 2013, the series concluded with issue 300, and was replaced by a DC Universe title, Constantine. The original series was revived in November 2019 for twelve issues as part of The Sandman Universe line of comics. Well known for its extremely pessimistic tone and social/political commentary, the series has spawned a film adaptation, television show, novels, and multiple spin-offs and crossovers.

Grant Morrison Scottish comic book writer, and playwright

Grant Morrison, MBE is a Scottish comic book writer and playwright. They are known for their nonlinear narratives, humanist philosophy and countercultural leanings in their runs on titles including DC Comics's Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, Flex Mentallo, The Filth and We3, Marvel's New X-Men and 2000 AD's Zenith.

Animal Man Superhero in the DC Comics Universe

Animal Man is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics Universe. As a result of being in proximity to an exploding extraterrestrial spaceship, Buddy Baker acquires the ability to temporarily "borrow" the abilities of animals. Using these powers, Baker fights crime as the costumed superhero Animal Man.

Doctor Thirteen Comics character

Dr. Terrance Thirteen, known simply as Doctor Thirteen, Dr. 13 and The Ghost-Breaker, is a fictional character in comic books set in the DC Universe. The character's first published appearance is in Star Spangled Comics #122.

Frank Quitely Scottish artist

Vincent Deighan, better known by the pen name Frank Quitely, is a Scottish comic book artist. He is best known for his frequent collaborations with Grant Morrison on titles such as New X-Men, We3, All-Star Superman, and Batman and Robin, as well as his work with Mark Millar on The Authority and Jupiter's Legacy.

Rick Veitch American comics artist and writer

Richard Veitch is an American comics artist and writer who has worked in mainstream, underground, and alternative comics.

Jock (cartoonist) British comics artist

Mark Simpson, known by the pen name Jock, is a Scottish cartoonist, best known for his work in 2000 AD, The Losers, and more recently Batman and Wolverine. He is also known for Wytches by Image Comics.

Jamie Delano British comics writer

Jamie Delano is a British comics writer. He was part of the first post-Alan Moore "British Invasion" of writers which started to feature in American comics in the 1980s. Best known as the first writer of the comic book series Hellblazer, featuring John Constantine.

The British Invasion of American comic books is a term used to describe the influx in the late 1980s of British comics creators, especially writers. The creators initially worked in the employ of DC Comics, but in recent years many have also worked for Marvel Comics.

American comic book tropes are common elements and literary devices related to American comic books.

Uncle Sam (comics) Comic book character based on the mascot

Uncle Sam is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Based on the national personification of the United States, Uncle Sam, the character first appeared in National Comics #1 and was created by Will Eisner.

Steve Pugh is a British comic book artist who has worked for American and British comic producers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and 2000 AD.

Yanick Paquette

Yanick Paquette is a Canadian comic book artist. He has worked for Antarctic Press, Topps, Marvel, and DC Comics and since 1994.

<i>Constantine</i> (comic book)

Constantine is a former ongoing comic book series published by DC Comics, which started in March 2013. It features English Magician John Constantine re-established into the DC Universe, and replaces the former Vertigo Comics title Hellblazer, which ended with its 300th issue after 25 years, in February 2013. The title character was originally created by Alan Moore in his 1980s run on Swamp Thing. The series received mixed reviews; writers praised its story but were critical of its characters, setting, and artwork. Many were disappointed that the series replaced Hellblazer, with writer Joshua Hale Fialkov stating the series did not have the "real" John Constantine.

The fictional character the Swamp Thing has appeared in five American comic book series to date, including several specials, and has crossed over into other DC Comics titles. The series found immense popularity upon its 1970s debut and during the mid-late 1980s under Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben. These eras were met with high critical praise and numerous awards. However, over the years, the Swamp Thing comics have suffered from low sales, which have resulted in numerous series cancellations and revivals.

Jeff Lemire Canadian cartoonist and comic book writer and artist

Jeff Lemire is a Canadian comic book writer, artist, and television producer. He is the author of critically acclaimed titles including the Essex County Trilogy, Sweet Tooth, and The Nobody. His written work includes All-New Hawkeye, Extraordinary X-Men, Moon Knight and Old Man Logan for Marvel; Superboy, Animal Man, Justice League Dark, and Green Arrow for DC; Black Hammer and Mazebook for Dark Horse; Descender and Gideon Falls for Image Comics; and Bloodshot Reborn for Valiant.

Justice League Dark Fictional Superhero team appearing in DC Comics

The Justice League Dark, or JLD, is a fictional superhero team appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. First appearing in Justice League Dark #1, the Justice League Dark originally featured John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Shade: The Changing Man, and Zatanna, eventually being joined by prominent members such as Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman. The team consists of the more supernatural members of the DC Universe, handling situations deemed outside the scope of the traditional Justice League.

<i>Black Hammer</i> (comics) American comic book series

Black Hammer is an ongoing American comic series created by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Comics.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Irvine, Alex (2008), "Animal Man", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 27, ISBN   978-0-7566-4122-1, OCLC   213309015
  2. Rogers, Vaneta (June 8, 2011). "Lemire Aims for Less Meta, More Family in DCnU ANIMAL MAN". Newsarama . Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  3. Renaud, Jeffrey (June 8, 2011). "Lemire Discovers the Dark Sides of "Animal Man" & "Frankenstein"". Comic Book Resources . Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  4. Animal Man Vol. 2, #1
  5. Animal Man Vol. 2, #2–4
  6. Animal Man #20
  7. Animal Man #21–26
  8. 1992 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners
  9. 1989 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award