Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

ANIMAL MAN: THE HUNT by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman

Animal Man vol 1 cover

Buy At Amazon: Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt (The New 52)

Animal Man is one of those weird superheroes who was – seemingly – destined for obscurity. In the beginning he was picked up by aliens and exposed to a process that allowed him to temporarily take on the abilities and attributes of animals, although he didn’t change shape to do this like the Doom Patrol’s (and later Teen Titan) Beast Boy did. He was Buddy Baker, which sounds about as blue collar as you can get.

Then Grant Morrison picked him up and did strange things to him, turned Animal Man’s powers inside out and made them more mystical. That treatment also turned Animal Man into one of the hottest selling titles at the time. But even that wore off after a while and he just returned to obscurity.

Animal Man vol 1 01

With the New 52 relaunch, Jeff Lemire took over the scripting chores. Lemire has an affinity to and a penchant for mystical things. I’m not sure who created the ideas of the Red and the Green (maybe kinda modeled on Geoff Johns’s rainbow Green Lantern Corps?), but Lemire has owned them. I liked his work on the New 52 Justice League Dark and dipped into his Animal Man series out of nostalgia and curiosity.

Animal Man vol 1 02

I like Lemire’s take on Buddy Baker. Buddy is more family guy who happens to have superpowers than a superhero. Most of the first graphic novel spins around Buddy’s relationship with his wife, Ellen, his son, Cliff, and his daughter,Maxine, whom he affectionately calls Little Wing. The opening sequence of a family meal disrupted by self-indulgence and uncertainty (Buddy) and by the wants of the warring siblings is just so normal I slid right into the story.

Lemire obviously knows families and his love and understanding of them and how they work is fantastic for this book. If nothing else, Animal Man is the story of a family and how they adapt to Buddy’s superhero role. But that’s not the real problem, as Lemire so chillingly reveals. Maxine is also tied to the Red, which is where Buddy gets his “morphogenetic” powers.

Animal Man vol 1 03

When weird things started going on, I got really interested in where Lemire was taking Animal Man this time around. When Maxine raises animals from the dead, I got even more interested. But you see, even all of that is merely the tip of the iceberg that Lemire presents.

I loved the idea of the Red and the new “origin” story for Buddy Baker’s animal powers. The whole Red world is a fantasy trip through exotic locales I’d never imagined Buddy would go. Travel Foreman, the artist, does a good job of depicting this strange new realm, and I have to wonder where he was getting these images.

Animal Man vol 1 04

I have to admit that I was somewhat disheartened by the fact that the story doesn’t wrap up at the end of the graphic novel. I wouldn’t have wanted to wait month to month for the story to unravel, and thankfully I didn’t wait to pick up the next graphic novel because at the time of this writing the first three are already out.


One Response to “ANIMAL MAN: THE HUNT by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman”

  1. You mention where the idea of the Red came from, it actually from the very old Swamp Thing comics written by Alan Moore in which The Green was Swamp Thing realm of plants, Red was the element of flesh, The Rot obviously death and the Gray was the parasite, while the Gray mostly being forgotten, the other three are still very powerful concept in the more dark DC universe.

    I loved this book and to see a reviewer who actually enjoy it makes me even more glad and happy, as most felt this book was bit too dark but I taught it was perfect.

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