I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t know enough about the DC universe. We all know who Batman and Superman are, but there are a lot of more obscure heroes that have great stories that deserve to be heard. I have watched Cartoon Network’s DC Nation and saw the goofy little short that featured Animal Man on many occasions. I thought that Animal Man was a Beast Boy knock off and didn’t really deserve my time. However, when I put up my review of the New 52 Teen Titans, I got a very interesting recommendation from a blogger that goes by wwayne. I then decided to pick up the first volume of the New 52 Animal Man and was very pleasantly surprised.
Imagine yourself with a normal life. You have a steady job, a beautiful wife, and your life couldn’t be happier. Then, you wake up one morning and your body feels odd. Through your curiosity you discover that you have new abilities that some would even describe as super powers. Now your life seems to be on a whole new level of awesome. You are young and the world could use some help keeping the corruption of the streets at bay. However, you have a family and this new-found responsibility as a hero seems to be keeping you away from your normal responsibilities. You were brought into this world without a super mentor. Schools don’t teach you how to balance crime fighting and your family life. No one has guided you in finding out exactly how to use your powers to the fullest. No one teaches you how to pick up the pieces when your life begins to fall apart. This is the unique element that is brought to us in the Animal Man comic. Our story begins with Buddy down on his luck after slowing down with the hero gig. Things are starting to show promise, but Buddy’s powers are starting to act funny. He brushes things off until Buddy’s worst fear comes true when his daughter develops powers similar to his own. Things get pretty crazy as Buddy goes on a journey to find the truth behind the nature of the powers that he and his daughter possess.
Buddy Baker is Animal Man. Buddy is linked to what he calls the life web and uses it to borrow the abilities of the animals in this world. Animal Man is a former stunt man who became a hero, then an animal rights activist, and finally decided to get into acting. Even though he tries to do what he can for his family, the hero gig doesn’t pay and the tumultuous life that comes with it does not meld well with a family. Ellen Baker is Buddy’s wife and shows great love for her family. Even though she is happy to see Buddy spending more time with the kids, Ellen does notice how much Buddy misses the superhero life. Clifford Baker is Buddy’s son and your typical teenage boy. Cliff gets a thrill from his dad’s hero work and is a little too obsessed with his video games. Maxine Baker is Buddy’s daughter and a huge focal point of the story. Maxine is a young girl that has begun to develop powers that link her to the red which is the true identity of the life web. The young lady is a new avatar of the red which makes her the most important individual in an upcoming war against the darkness. Ignatius, otherwise known as socks, is a former avatar of the red who has left his home in order to train Maxine for the war. The characters shown to us thus far have a very deep connection to one another and it is making for great character development early on.
Animal Man really surprised me. The best part about this series is the look into how a family reacts when the head of the household is a superhero. We get a very real look into the struggles that Ellen faces as Buddy’s wife when dealing with an inconsistent income and the constant fear that he won’t come home from a fight. Also, we see how being a hero outside of the Justice League can have its issues. Buddy lacks the aid of other heroes when dealing with his crime fighting and is not always taken seriously due to his known identity as a stunt man. Once again DC has given us a very edgy series and I am really enjoying the connection to nature.
Go out to your nearest comic book provider and give Animal Man a try. It is showing itself to be an emotional journey told with a writing quality that deserves recognition. I am very happy that I picked up a copy of Animal Man Volume One and would like to thank wwayne for the recommendation. I love DC and would love more people to recommend series in the New 52 for me to read.