Random thoughts on ‘Animal Man’ comic series

Just as title says. This post has nothing to do with stuff I usually release, so feel free to skip it over.
I started reading ‘Animal Man’ more then half a year ago, just finished it all, and just wanted to write some thoughts.

Rating inside the period is kinda independent, so 8/10 in pre-classic period doesn’t mean it is as good as something with equal rating from classic period – it means it’s just good for its time.
Some of side stories were included in original torrent, some I downloaded separately.

Pre-classic period:

1965-1967 Strange Adventures (DC) 180, 184, 190, 195, 201

I actually read this somewhere in the middle of Grant Morrison’s part, but let’s view it chronologically:
#180 (‘I was the man with animal powers!’) and #184 (‘Return of the man with animal powers!’) is where it all began. Surely, it’s pretty simple and old, but still not bad. [8/10]
#190, 195, 201 – nothing really interesting or memorable there, more or less standard superhero-ish stuff. [5/10]

1980 Wonder Woman 267-268 [6/10]
Animal Man teams up with Wonder Woman. Probably good for it’s time, but not really memorable.

1983 Action Comics 552-553 [7/10]
Idea with time-travelling was not bad, but that is probably the only thing I remember.

1985 DC Comics Presents 077-078 [5/10]
Superman and the Forgotten Villains… Who are all this people again?

1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths [8/10]
I read it after everything other.
Beginning is too intricate, especially for those, who (like me) don’t know much about DC universe. Plot and art are pretty good, final battle is really epic.
As for Animal Man… meh, he just said about three phrases.

Classic period:

1988-1990 (Grant Morrison) [10/10]
Here’s the spoiler-ish picture that drew my attention to this comic. Even though beginning seemed a bit simple, it quickly changed in something pretty unusual. Overall, it’s a rare case I can call something a masterpiece.

1990-1991 (Peter Milligan) [9/10]
Art is the same (Chas Truog was still doing it). Story is crazy and psychedelic, exactly what I like (I’m Malkavian, after all 🙂 ). Probably too short, but still good.

1991-1992 (Tom Veitch) [7/10]
Story 5/10, art 10/10
Well, like some reader wrote in his letter, “Sometimes, the much-expected ‘big bang’ turns out to be a ‘big burp’.” And that’s exactly what Tom Veitch done – he was cooking something, but the result was pretty boring and not tasty.
On a bright side – Steve Dillon was doing art, and, while keeping original style, some of his specific strokes are visible, if you’re familiar with his style. And three years later he was drawing ‘Preacher’, which is also a pretty good comic.

1992-1995 (Jamie Delano) [7/10]
Story 8/10, art 6/10
Jamie Delano’s story is more inclined to horror, but still pretty good. Furthermore, he even tied some loose ends after Veitch. Unfortunately, this can’t be said about art – Steve Pugh’s is not good.
Some moments from late part of the story made me wonder if new form of Animal Man was inspired by Devilman. Probably not, but still…

1995 (Jerry Prosser) [5/10]
If Steve Pugh’s art was not good, then Fred Harper’s is outright bad.
And story… I can’t even remember what it was about, but the finale was just some incoherent pseudo-philosophical rambling with walls of text, which was obviously the result of sudden closing of some DC series, including Animal Man.

1989 Justice League America 032 [n/a]
Just some brief appearance. Can’t remember anything except Spectre (looks like pretty interesting character).

1989-1990 Doom Patrol 028-029 [9/10]
Again Grant Morrison, again unusual plot. I’ll definitely read ‘Doom Patrol’ later.

1989-1990 Justice League Europe [1/10]
What. Is. This. Shit? Story is boring and stupid, art is mediocre, characters act like some kind of imbecile clowns. Animal Man was here only for twelve issues, but it was a real torture to read it.

New period:

2009 Last Days of Animals Man (Gerry Conway) [7/10]
Story, even though not very original, is still good. Art, even though different from Truog’s or Dillon’s, is still good – looks like in new period they give heroes more or less standardized appearance despite of artist.

1997 Aquaman 35 [n/a]
Probably it would make more sense if I was familiar with Aquaman’s comics.

1999 Resurrection Man 025-026 [7/10]
Wait, Abnett? Dan Abnett, who wrote some of Warhammer books?! Can’t say that I’m a big fan (I read only three of his books, and liked only two of them), but still…
Again, Animal Man’s part was not that big. But the story’s twist at the end… it makes me want to read this series.

2000 JLA 040-041 – World War III (5,6 of 6) [n\a]
Again, without reading volumes 1-4 I don’t understand much of the plot. Probably that’s the reason that Morrison couldn’t grab my attention this time. And art is good.

2003 Hawkman 17 [n\a]
Same thing as with Aquaman.

2006-2007 52 Remixed – The Mystery in Space [7/10]
Seems too compressed (and some points are not really clear without knowledge of prior events), but it had some interesting points (again – Morrison).
Also, if it is T+ (if i’m not mistaken) and partial nudity is considered fine, why words like ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’ are still bleeped? I don’t get it.

2007-2008 Countdown To Adventure [8/10]
Direct continuation of 52. Again, I don’t know all the characters, but it’s still interesting. And for some reason, when Starfire, Animal Man and his wife Ellen are together, I can’t stop thinking about threesome between them… ahem.

2006-2011 Justice League of America v2 25 [8/10]
Pretty good. And I think I like Bruce Wayne as Paladine more than Batman.

2009-2010 Blackest Night [n/a]
Minor appearance in issues 5 and 8, and a little story in Untold Tales. There’s too much to read it all.

2010 Justice League – Cry For Justice [7/10]
It was not bad… just until the very abrupt ending.

2010 Starman / Congorilla [6/10]
Not much happens here, but there’s too much text.

2011-2014 (Jeff Lemire) [7/10]
Well, it’s as if I’m reading Delano’s part once again, but now without Veitch’s part before it.
Plot again is closer to horror, art (by Foreman and sometimes Pugh – again) is not to my taste – again. But this time I must say that while it looks bad at realistic parts, it looks awesome at creepy and surrealistic moments. Some of the last chapters were drawn by Albuquerque, and I think his art is better than other artists in this run.
Also, I think that issue #29 was totally unneeded – ending of #28 was fine as it is, and #29 doesn’t tells anything new or important.

* * *

And a little additional thought on DC’s global crossovers. ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ could be read as it is, but to read ‘Blackest Night’ reader already needs to read not only the series itself, but also around 70 other comics. And with that new ‘Convergence’ situation is pretty much the same. That’s main reason why I wouldn’t read it in nearest time; the second reason is that I just tired from all that superheroes now.
So next one will be Chaos! Universe – Evil Ernie, Lady Death and others.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jfgslo
    Apr 10, 2015 @ 22:15:16

    Like you I’m kind of burned from super-heroes comics, particularly DC’s since the last reboot and I will drop entirely the new ones pretty soon. I’ve read very little of Animal Man, and most of what I’ve read I disliked, but I’m a fan of Morrison and haven’t read that part. I did like him in 52, but I truly disliked anything from Animal Man after that point. Would you say Morrison’s run is worth reading? How does it compare to Morrison’s JLA, New X-Men or All-Star Superman?


    • AlexMalkavian
      Apr 12, 2015 @ 19:57:29

      > Would you say Morrison’s run is worth reading?
      I’d say it worth it, but just depends on what you like. Technically, it was first superhero comics I’ve ever read, so I may be a little biased, but I think it was mostly good.
      Well, if to avoid spoilers, I’d say you should try to read it at least up to issue #5 (The Coyote Gospel). There will be the first hints at what Morrison is doing with reality of this comic.

      > How does it compare to Morrison’s JLA, New X-Men or All-Star Superman?
      It’s pretty hard to compare, because early Morrison’s works are different from recent ones; early tended to delve into surrealism sometimes, while new are closer to normalness.
      All-Star Superman – not bad, but can’t say I liked it that much.
      JLA – tried to read it over this saturday and sunday, but got only to volume 12 (and #40-41 I’ve read earlier). Probably the only thing that connects it with Animal Man is presence of Mirror Master.
      As for New X-Men, I haven’t read it yet.


  2. jfgslo
    Apr 14, 2015 @ 04:48:05

    From what I know about Morrison’s work, I really should read Animal Man.

    Have you read by chance Seven Soldiers? If so, of the seven character series, which one would you say is closer to Animal Man? I enjoyed that series a lot, particularly Bulleteer, but I must admit Mister Miracle was particularly difficult to read. I enjoyed it, but I understand why many didn’t. I also liked Zatanna and Frankenstein. Neither Klarion nor Shining Knight were bad, but they weren’t as memorable for me as the others. From that series I only disliked Manhattan Guardian.


    • AlexMalkavian
      Apr 17, 2015 @ 19:19:24

      It’s pretty hard to compare Animal Man to any of them by personality. Characters in Seven Soldiers don’t try to save animals; they don’t rescue their family (except for, maybe, Guardian). Mister Miracle and Zatanna to some degree deal with surreal things, though in Seven Soldiers it is more in-universe, then in Animal Man.
      Some moments from Jamie Delano’s run could be compared to Klarion’s and Bulleteer’s part, and not for AM himself, but for his children and wife subplots.


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