The first full month of The New 52 has come and gone, and now I’m playing catch-up on reviews! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. First up is a book about a character I’ve been hoping would get a new series for years, as Buddy Baker returns to action as Animal Man! Buddy hasn’t had his own series yet this century, and with Grant Morrison as the previous writer of the character, new writer Jeff Lemire will have a lot of critical eyes turned his way. How does Lemire’s first issue of Animal Man stack up? Read on.
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
For those unfamiliar with him, Animal Man is two of the rarest things in modern comics: a happily-married family man with kids and a vegetarian. One of the most underutilized characters in the DC Universe in recent years, I was ecstatic to hear he was getting his own ongoing series again as part of The New 52. Better still, Animal Man was announced as part of the new “Dark” line of DC comics, ensuring that the comic would be able to include mature, thought-provoking, and sometimes disturbing content.
I don’t want to go into too much detail here, as I think readers deserve to discover a lot of the storytelling surprises in Animal Man #1 for themselves. What I will say is that I’m not the type of reader to go on at length about art, but the artistic style chosen for this book may be its greatest asset. The artwork is wholly unique amongst The New 52 and highly captivating. The art sets Animal Man #1 apart and gives the book a gothic, creepy feel unequaled by its peers in The New 52.
Plotwise, the story told within Animal Man #1 ranges from a homey, family atmosphere to an air of pure terror and dread. In one issue we move from a family sitcom-like introduction to an action/superhero scene to a dreamlike world and revelation. With Animal Man experiencing an ominous premonition, followed by an alarming cliffhanger, this first issue delivers with exciting event after event. After just one issue, I found myself worried for both Buddy and his whole family, and in dire need of more story to find out if they’re all going to be alright.
Very little, to be quite honest. Some readers may complain that what’s going on storywise isn’t immediately being blatantly spelled out for them, but this is a more Seeing the mysteries and revelations unfold is going to be the meat of this series.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
The obvious place to buy new comic books is your local comic book store, but if you don’t have one or can’t get to it, I highly recommend giving Things from Another World (TFAW.com) a try! They stock a crazy huge number of comic books, and the prices on new releases and graphic novels are always 10-30% below cover price. I’ve been buying from TFAW for close to a decade now and never had a bad experience, so I have total confidence in their speed, value and quality. Click here if you wanna take a look at buying comics from Things from Another World.
Overall: I listed Animal Man #1 in my Top 5 Favorite New 52 First Issues in my New 52 Review Round-Up and Report Card, and with good reason. Rivaled only by Swamp Thing #1 as the most critically-praised and fan-loved first issues of The New 52, Animal Man #1 is a complete triumph of artwork and storytelling. Leading off The New 52 with Animal Man and Swamp Thing in week 1 was an excellent choice and got The New 52 off to a great start, setting the bar for what the books releasing the following weeks would aspire to be. Animal Man is looking like it’s going to be one of the most complete and well-done series in the new DC Universe, and earns my highest possible recommendation.