The First Signs of Promise in the New 52
After the lackluster Justice League #1 and Action Comics #1, we finally get a title that seems a little more fresh in Animal Man #1.
Once again, I have to say that I was skeptical - especially since I think a couple issues of Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man rank among the greatest comics of the Modern Age (see my reviews of ' The Coyote Gospel' and ' The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea'). How could anyone live up to Grant Morrison's run on this title?
Well, Jeff Lemire may not be the second coming of Grant Morrison, but this issue is evidence that 'ol Buddy Baker's in good hands. The story kicks off with a faux magazine article page which creatively summarizes what Buddy's been up to, as well as sets up this month's story.
Travel Foreman's art is the polar opposite of Jim Lee's super detailed work. Foreman swings almost too far in the other direction - giving us a world of clean lines and sparse detail - yet somehow it works for this title.
By the time we get to a surreal dream sequence, we know this isn't going to be the standard superhero book. More like the horror-tinged Rick Veitch run on Swamp Thing or the Peter Milligan Shade the Changing Man.
Now there is one complaint I have (similar to what I knocked Green Lantern for in Justice League) - which is superpower-creep - once again we have a hero whose powers are far more extensive and godlike than initially conceived. As I recall, Buddy could take on the abilities of any animal he was in reasonably close proximity to. But here he clearly seems to be able to take on the powers of absolutely any animal at any time by reaching into the 'life web' - whatever that is. Worse still, he seems to be able to mix-and-match, creating 'action hero cocktails of animal abilities'. Why is this necessary?
One final quibble: when exactly did it become standard practice to put the hero's logo over their narration blocks? Really, it makes the panels harder to read, and it's not like we can't figure out who's supposed to be talking.
But those complaints aside, Animal Man already seems to be a cut above the rest of the D.C. pack.