It’s Month 2 of DC Comics’ The New 52! It’s do-or-die this month for the books I bashed last month, and time to see if the titles I loved last month are as good as I thought! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #2 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we get 13 #2 issues, including Animal Man #2! This book blew my socks off with how high-quality the first issue was and how much I loved this domestic superhero tale, but I was afraid the title would stumble and follow with the subsequent issues. Turns out that was a foolish concern to have: Animal Man #2 is even better than the first issue and a serious contender for the best book in the whole New 52…
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
Two issues in, and this series has already rocketed to the top of my pile of favorite comics from any publisher. Animal Man is a mature family drama mixed with superheroics and the supernatural, the likes of which I’ve never seen. It’s sort of like The Incredibles or the Fantastic Four, but with more relatable characters and a darkly-tainted plot.
The Baker family feels like a family–a real family–that I can know and feel for and care about. Though we’re only two issues in, this family is the emotional nucleus of the series, and I find myself worrying about their problems and rooting for them to come through everything okay. It’s a marvel of storytelling that I can feel as concerned for Buddy’s wife being able to clear up problems with the jerky neighbor just as much as caring if Buddy will be able to save all animal life on Earth at the same time.
The dialogue that comes out of the characters’ mouths is fantastic. The kids have language that’s appropriate to their age-groups (“Badass!”), and the adults sound like real parents who can express their emotions of anger with their words one moment and then love and worry the next.
The art is gritty and realistic, making this book feel more like a real event that’s happening and less like some fanciful superheroic exploit. It conveys the mood and tone of the plot perfectly, and can be both fun and creepy to look at at the same time. I’ve never been scared by a picture of pregnant hippos before, but after reading this comic I think I may have nightmares about them for the rest of my life.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
Stores drastically under-ordered Animal Man, and it’s proving to be one of the hardest books to come by at retail in the New 52. If you’re looking to buy online, I highly recommend giving Things from Another World (TFAW.com) a try! Currently, they not only have Animal Man #2 in stock, but they have Animal Man #1, as well as most other books of the New 52! They stock a crazy huge number of comic books, and the prices on new releases and graphic novels are always 10-35% 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 value and quality. Click here if you wanna take a look at buying comics from Things from Another World.
Overall: People not reading Animal Man because he’s not an A-List character don’t know what they’re missing. In two issues, I care more about Buddy’s wife than I care about Spidey’s current girlfriend Carlie Cooper after 4 years of page-time. This is a finely-tuned sitcom in the form of a superhero story–and for my money, this is the most fun comic being put out today, and ties with Swamp Thing as the best of the New 52. Absolutely, without reservations recommended.