Review: Animal Man #1
First off, I’ll straight up admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of comics in the form of issues. I’m not sure if it’s the irritation at not being able to finish a story in one sitting, or the fact that all of the existing issues have usually been running for years and I wasn’t interested in figuring out the back story.
I’ll also straight up admit that Animal Man #1 has changed that. Shout out to Tom who suggested I go read it, and to DC for rebooting the new 52. I had no idea who Animal Man was until about an hour ago, but none of that matters. I’m in on the ground floor and I’m hooked.
Those of you who have been paying any attention know that I’m a little picky about my superheroes – specifically, they can’t go getting too ‘super’ on me. They end up being too hard to relate to. I had no such issues with Animal Man. In fact, it’s refreshing how ordinary this superhero is in many ways. His identity isn’t a secret; everyone knows who he is, and he’s even acting in a movie. The full first fifth of the issue is set in his kitchen, in a mildly defensive discussion with his wife about how he doesn’t spend much time as Animal Man any more, all while she chops vegetables in the background.
Sound boring? It’s not. It’s actually refreshing how good a look you get at the character behind Animal Man. It’s a far better window into the soul than some tortured decision made while a cable car of innocents hangs perilously over a river. I have to give some serious credit to the writers of this reboot. The text is clean, strong and realistic – awkward one liners are strikingly absent.
Now you’re probably worried that Animal Man actually sucks, and the crotchety old man behind the keyboard likes it because it’s not actually a comic book but some tired old story about a couple making dinner. And while you might be right to worry, you’re wrong in this instance. Animal Man turns out to be a pretty awesome superhero, who, as far as I can tell, is capable of taking the powers of any animal for himself. There’s no limit on how many animals either – at one point he pulls in the ‘strength of an elephant, reflexes of a fly, and the speed of a cheetah’. It’s a pretty awesome superhero effect in my book, too, since it means that theoretically he can get out of just about any bind, but you have to come up with what animal enables it.
I should also mention that this isn’t just some happy go lucky, family time, let’s all turn into animals parade. There’s some seriously weird stuff going on in Animal Man #1, and that’s what makes it intriguing. It’s pretty clear that this isn’t going to turn into a weekly session of ‘beat down the latest villain’; there’s some other parallel conflict happening. They actually say as much on the first page, where Animal Man says he’s realized he can do so much more than just ‘punching out a super villain’, in a brilliantly crafted interview with some Rolling Stone-esque magazine.
So here’s the deal: I’m a skeptic, and this comic has me thoroughly convinced. The next issue is out
today October 5th, so be sure to get it before then!