Thursday, September 13, 2018

Retro Review: Animal Man #1 (1988) - "The Human Zoo"

I Want To Be An Animal

Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Chris Truog, Doug Hazelwood, John Costanza, and Tatjana Wood
Cover Price: $1.25
Release Date: September 1988

When I jumped into the New 52, Animal Man was a favorite of mine.  Reggie told me a couple of times to check out Grant Morrison's time on the book and while I heard it is the definitive run, I haven't until now.  I am guessing this is the start of a bunch of retro Animal Man reviews.  Was it good?  Let's find out…

The issue opens with Buddy in a tree, saving the neighbor's cat.  He may not be in his Animal Man outfit, but he uses his powers when he gets cat-like reflexes after falling out of the tree.  This seems to get his juices flowing when he goes home and tells his wife, Ellen, that he may want to get back into the superhero business.

I love the focus of family life in this book and this scene is great.  Watching Buddy dream of the life he wished he had coupled with Ellen trying to be the realistic one rang true but also gave the story some very real stakes.  the great family focus continues when Cliff and Maxine enter the scene.  We finally are introduced to the villain, but he is kept to the shadows and while it seems like an easy guess, this issue is more about Buddy getting his groove back.

To that effect, we continue with Ellen helping Buddy get a new grip on his powers.  It's been a while and he is a bit rusty, but seeing him and his wife figure things out again is the best part of the book.

Things continue with his neighbor, Roger, jumping onboard as his manager.  Roger's wife is no fan of her husband and his work ethic, but he gets Buddy a gig on a local talk show which is the thing that pushes the overall story forward.  The appearance may not have seemed like a success to Buddy himself, but it gets him a call from STAR labs and it's back in the saddle again.

Unfortunately, the saddle involves a monstrosity of a cliffhanger that certainly is a result of the mysterious villain who popped up a couple times in this issue.

I really liked this issue.  This is a great example of a more human character that doesn't need to be over the top miserable to keep the reader engaged.  It's actually Buddy's enthusiasm and glee at getting to be a superhero again that makes this such a fun read and it really was contagious!  Chris Troug's art fit the story so well and this is definitely a series I am going to stick with.

Bits and Pieces:

I love Animal Man and now I see why Grant Morrison's name is synonymous with the character.  This first issue might be low on action but the heavy dose of great characterizations and focus on Buddy and his family makes up for that in spades.  Highly Recommended.


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