Friday, August 31, 2012

CBR The Last Days of Animal Man


I ain't finished with Animal Man just yet!
Before he got recently "rebooted" as part of DC's New 52 lineup-wide relaunch in a new series, he got one more solo-tale which I present to you right here!

Here's... The Last Days of Animal Man!!

Don't miss out my previous Animal Man-related reviews!

Comic title: The Last Days of Animal Man
Art by Chris Batista & Dave Meikis
Stories by Gerry Conway

Published by DC Comics
From 2009
Lineup Animal Man
Format: TPB which collects issues #1-6 of The Last Days of Animal Man mini-series.

Here we are for another review of Animal Man!
This story is what nerds call "not in continuity". That means the story in this mini takes place in a sort of alternate world.

But it could just as easily have been a proper new episode of the life of Buddy Baker.

It was produced shortly after DC Comics' 2006 epic storyline 52 in which we were introduced back to a Buddy who has returned to his more regular appearance after Jerry Prosser's run on Animal Man which left him as a shaman, with long white hair and a father of a newborn child.
It seems things got back to normal during an unseen period of time.
In 52 Buddy was lost in space alongside Adam Strange and Starfire from the Teen Titans. He went through several other Adventures in Space but eventually came home to his family as he always does, his wife Ellen and his children Maxine and Cliff.

And that's when we're left at, the story takes place in the new future of 2024.
It isn't your typical epic scifi future from comic books (see Kingdom Come or Batman Beyond for these).
Instead we're in a more realistic near future, nothing as changed much.

Our character grew older.
There's a hint of new technology with all the video calls around and projected screens, but that's all.

The story opens with Buddy donning one more his A-Man costume to stop some crazy criminal in San Diego. He's back in his hometown.
Buddy is now back to his stuntman job coordinator full time, and only part-time superhero like he was before.
He stops the villain Bloodrage from draining blood from his victims but not without luck.

It seems Buddy is having troubles with his powers.
He doesn't "hear" as well animals singing to him through the morphogenetic field.
The way he was changed by those mysterious yellow alien figures is starting to unravel.

It's the last days of Animal Man as he always feared...

It's a very nostalgic/feel good kind of story.
It is nice to see this future if the characters had been/would be allowed to grow older properly since Grant Morrison's run.

After Prosser's story Animal Man had sort of become a "toxic" character in a manner of speaking, publication-wise.
Even in Vertigo Comics he only made one or two brief appearances/allusions to. Then Grant Morrison - yes, him again, used him again in 52 as if nothing had happened.

Setting this in the future was really one of the few options to bring him properly back.
This story does make little allusion to his past stories/series.
The way his powers were expanded to alien creatures/universal animals in 52 and its sequels (link at the top of this review!).
The morphogenetic field.
Buddy always going on adventures/dying...only to always come back to his home in the end.
What his origin story might really be and its various interpretations over the years. Buddy even get to confront the yellow aliens one more time in one of the most memorable scenes of this mini-series.
And some of the more obscure elements from the Vertigo era such as his father he went hunting with, dying early during his childhood.

It's the story of Buddy getting out of retirement in publication, while thinking about going into retirement in-story.

Gerry Conway wrote a very nice story about a middle-aged superhero.
It's something you don't see often.

As we tag along Buddy who gets frustrated to lose what made him so special, he starts to question "Why me?" what actually made him that special to begin.
But Buddy gets conflicted. Forgetting his family, closing off away from them.
The thing is he forgot how to just be Buddy Baker, who he really was before becoming Animal Man.

There's some fun references to the new plausible DC Universe.
Superman and Power Woman are still there. So is Buddy's old time friend Starfire.
Nightwing, former Robin, is now in charge of this League of Titans.
To avoid confusions with the Flashes, there's a new one, a younger Flash. (who perfectly helps the conflict with our old Buddy)
We also get to see the awesome all-new "current" Green Lantern. Which easily is the best Lantern I've ever seen - get this - a Giant White Whale!

I really loved Chris Batista's art
It's very expressive, well detailed.
The characters are recognizable enough and full of life.

Overall, a great read.
A good story of our old Silver Age hero straining his relationships with his family because of a superhero life he is now losing as well.

In a way, it's a return to a Morrison-era Buddy of sort.
It was nice to see this Prismatik, the daughter of Mirror Master, which sort of makes the story come full-circle with the early issues of the original series.

Personally I liked the plausible near future of the DCU presented here.
It makes this story less of an Elseworld/distant science-fiction-ysh world like Kingdome Come and the likes..
(which makes me wonder...they could have just easily turned this into an actual "present story")

Conway said his story came from a pitch which originally had nothing to do with Animal Man, but the character just turned out to be available.
Even if he admitted it wasn't meant for A-Man at first, I honestly feel he Buddy-fied well enough the whole thing.

I give it:
  2 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

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