Friday, September 30, 2011

Animal Man #1

The Ronin here,
It's been a few weeks but lets look back at one of the stars of the DC relaunch, Animal Man #1. I was not originally planing on doing this one, but I gave it a try and it knocked my socks off. No, literally they came off. My feet are cold now.

Now Animal Man is not a character I am very familiar with. I know Grant Morrison did a much loved run on the character, aside from that I've seen the character in 52, where he was partnered up with Adam Strange and Starfire... The less said about the new 'Starfire' the better.

So, what are the goals of this issue? Well it is a #1 and it is supposed to be able to appeal to numerous new readers who may not know anything about Animal Man. It needs to show us his powers and abilities, his status quo, and it needs to intrigue those readers, hook them all while pleasing older fans who expect a lot from an Animal Man title. That is a lot to do in a single issue and apparently beyond
the ability of a lot of the new DC books (or many new books for that mater).

The cover of the book stands out on the shelf. It doesn't tell you a lot but it catches your eye and makes you wonder just what the hell is going on in this book. Blood or veins are coming out of Animal Man, forming a tree and down by the roots we see numerous animals surrounding him.

There is an interesting take on the recap page, a solid page of text which is worked into the story. It is an interview Animal Man did which brings us up to speed on a number of aspects of the characters status quo. It is a little text heavy and might turn off some readers but it does a good job getting exposition out with out being clunky. To bad they can't all get away with this.
Okay, maybe the costume isn't great.
The next pages set up the status quo, we meet his family, see his home life. We learn in a few pages that Animal Man is a pretty ordinary guy for a superhero. He has a supportive wife, an older son and a younger daughter who wants a pet, specifically a puppy. Animal Man explains he can't keep animals in the house or he will begin to take on only their characteristics and it will interfere with his powers.

The plot moves rapidly, Animal Man goes on an adventure and saves some kids in a hospital. It moves quickly but we see his powers demonstrated. The “villain” is very sympathetic, and you can tell his situation effects Animal Man pretty personally. In a few pages you want Animal Man to end the situation and get help to not only the hostages but to the “villain” as well. We also see Animal Man interact with the authorities, unlike a lot of the new DC books he seems to have a lot of good will with the local police and their interaction shows this very organically.
Animal Man! I am holding these kids hostage until you change to the old uniform.
The second half of the book returns Animal Man to his home where he has a prophetic dream about his daughter. You really need to check it out for your self but it is interesting. He awakens to find out it may have been more then just a dream. His family calls him outside where he finds his daughter, displaying some rather disturbing superpowers of her own, and she now has pets... This ending is a wonderful cliff hanger and hook. When I finished it all I wanted to know was “When can I get some more Animal Man?”. 

Now be a good superhero and you will get a lollypop.
It was great to see a book that could not only tell a single issue story, but also open up a longer story arc while doing it. There might be a 6 issue story arc here, but the first issue is also great on it's own. This is how comics need to be wrote. Was there payoff in this issue? Hell yes. In the single issue we learn about Animal Man, it sets up his powers, his status quo, he even goes on an adventure. All while setting up the huge mystery that will keep the reader coming back for more.

Animal Man may not be DC's best known character, but if they keep this up he might be one of the most popular after the relaunch.

This issue gladly met all of the goals that it needed to and more. Excellent work DC. If I had a star-based rating system I'd easily give it the maximum number of stars said system allowed.

I loved this book. I will be buying it every month. I highly suggest you do it, or at least pick up a copy of #1 and give it a try.

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