Sunday, June 10, 2012

CBR Animal Man 2: Origin of the Species


And time to go back to Buddy and his final man in this continuation of Grant Morrison's Animal Man!

Comic title: Animal Man: Origin of the Species 
Art by Chas Truog, Tom Grummett, Dough Hazlewood, Steve Montano and Mark McKenna
Cover Art by Brian Bolland
Story by Grant Morrison
Published by DC

From 1989
Lineup Animal Man
Format: Trade paperback, collecting Animal Man issues #10-17 and Secret Origins #39)

And we're back with Buddy Baker and his family!
This book is a direct follow-up to the previous volume 1 of this same series. 

This is when things start to get really interesting.
With the original introduction behind (the first couple of issues featured in that past book which was originally conceived as mini-series), Morrison now takes the time to analyze and play around with the character and the concept.

Buddy Baker, aka the superhero Animal Man continues to follow his heart and help out various animal rights movements.
His wife Ellen fears he might be going to far and his associating with dangerous radical groups.

Meanwhile his family his trying to adjust to Buddy's return to superheroics and activism. Cliff is having some problems going vegetarian. And Maxine has been seeing a mysterious shadowy figure around the house lately... what could it be?

Also strange visions of aliens and a trip to Africa ends up revealing the truth behind his Secret Origin!


The back of the book didn't lie.
In this second part of Morrison's run Buddy is thrown at various Crisis and consequences of his past decisions only to come out stronger.

The first part of the story really was more like a set-up than anything really. Buddy continue to support various animal activists..up to a point. The weight of his new decisions slowly overcoming his "super hero" job.

The book is full of subtexts and meta-references to the previous continuity(ies), what his hiding just around the edges of the page.
Most issues feature stand-alone stories, often every odd issue exploring more surreal themes while the even ones follow a simpler classical "super hero vs. a supervillain" format. Which was probably a good idea to keep the more resistant lambda comic book reader around.

The new stories continue to explore what it means to be part of the larger DCU, featuring guest appearances from the JLI-Europe division (Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Metamorpho, Rocket Red,..), Dolphin, Vixen and B'wana Beast as this last one searches for a successor in South Africa (who will end up becoming Freedom Beast).

Grant Morrison is truly The David Lynch of comic books.
His Animal Man is weird, often humorous and quite a fun exploration of the medium.

Various new themes are explored, like what it means to be a superhero and should they keep playing "role models" or thinking of a bigger picture and being actively engaged in what they deem important at heart?
More abstract ideas are also played with, one of the two main story-arcs in this second volume being continuity (and to be continued into the third book).
subtext. theme.meta.

The art of Chas Truog and Tom Grummett is still quite fun for the character, with a big emphasis on character expressions and body language. It might feel a bit "sloppy" sometimes, but it does convey their emotions quite easily.
And Brian Bolland's covers, as always, stunning. Which makes me wish we'd gotten an Animal Man mini-series drawn by him at some point...

Overall, it is just as good as the first one.

More experimental this time around though, but thankfully (if unlike me, you have some problem with those sort of issues) it is scattered around throughout the entire book and the story & the characters are left around to breath in simpler more straightforward stories every now and then.

A very fun exploration of the superhero genre.
Bizarre, deep, amusing and very entertaining!

I give it:

  2.5 / 3 Plastic-trophies!


  1. Great review and great drawings, as usual.

  2. Muy bueno en verdad. Te felicito demasiado por tus hazañas.

    1. Holà, ombre!

      Well, I have absolutely no idea what you've just written, but thanks for checking by!