Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Animal Man Vol 1: The Hunt
Welcome back all of my grizzled and feral beasts! I feel like I have been starting out almost every column recently stating how I have something new and exciting for you all, and that still seems to be the case with today’s Suggestions. It has been a hell of a past couple months for good old Arthur, and riding on the tails of a recently completed Game of Thrones obsession, I have been somewhat drained in the novel aspect of things. However, I did get a chance to finish the amazingly written book, the Forever War, which will have it’s own review this week, and got a chance to catch up on some comics I have had sitting for a while. In the hot and humid trappings that is known as my local Laundromat, I opened and tore through a book I had almost forgotten about, but it’s a good thing I remembered that I had it in my possession…. Because it is fucking awesome. Ladies and gents, I am proud to present to you: Animal Man Volume 1: The Hunt.
Now I must start off by saying I was in no way, shape or form a fan of Animal Man before starting this book, but to be honest, I definitely am now. I had never gotten into his power set, mainly because I never took the time to fully understand it. I thought he was mainly Beast Boy without being green, but I am proud, and slightly ashamed to say I was wrong. Guys, Animal Man is awesome, and I am going to tell you why, specifically because of this book. Now it’s not to say I don’t appreciate his former stories, but this was my first foray into his world, and I was totally impressed. The Hunt is written by the great Jeff Lemire, and drawn by Travel Foreman, who has just acquired another fan of his art. I was debating between reading this and Vol 2 of Hawkeye, but for some reason the cover of Animal Man kept calling to me. Was it the blood streaking from his eyes? The unsettling feeling of almost squiggly style art? Or was it the fact that within the first few pages of the trade I was salivating at all the cool things happening? I think it’s a proper mix of all three, and it works to beautiful perfection.
Buddy Baker is Animal Man, and if you can’t tell what his power set is by his name, you may have some thinking to do about where your life is going. Animal Man is able to draw on what he likes to refer to as the Life Web; tapping into the abilities and traits of animals in his bid to be a hero and keep the streets clean. He has a family, a burgeoning acting gig, and is just a nice guy all around. He likes to try and solve issues without throwing a punch, but will not hesitate to summon some gorilla strength and ruin your whole day if you piss him off. Just ask the guy in the beginning who held a hospital hostage. After taking care of a particularly heart breaking situation at the hospital, Buddy is told by the officer on duty that something weird is going on with his face….mainly blood is flowing freely from his eyes, and Travel shows his chops by drawing it with haunting beauty and making it look like he is really bleeding out of his eyes. Apparently this hospital doesn’t have any visine, but that’s alright, because Animal Man is A-Ok. He heads home to find his wife and kids asleep, and in a scene that just oozes cool to me, summons the weightlessness of a bird to walk across the floor without waking anyone one. I think we may have a winner in the power control department, guys. I can’t say how long I was laughing at this part, but it was for a while. I don’t know why something so small could be one of the most amazing moments in the whole trade. It’s just such a neat trick for this hero to go from gorilla strength to weightless bird in the drop of a hat. Cyclops, eat your heart out at this type of control. However, fitless dreams give way to horrible goings on, and Buddy wakes up to a scene of borderline horror, yet doused childlike innocence.
Animal Man, which I just learned yesterday, cannot have a pet in the house or be in close proximity to any single animal for too long, otherwise it would mess up his bond with the Life Web and become attached too much to that specific animal, which would completely mess up his powers. His daughter wants a pet, but doesn’t fully understand why she cannot have one just yet. In a moment of childlike innocence previously mentioned, she and the rest of the family discover that she has powers as well, but much more dark and sinister than Animal Man’s. She brings back a slew of dead animals and pets to life, and proceeds to do what every other kid would do in that moment, PLAY! Yessssss this girl is awesome. She just has skeletal cats and other pets rolling all over her and she just doesn’t care, because she is here to play, and skin be dammed. Animal Man understands this is not good, and seeks to find out what is happening, but before he can, we are treated to a tattoo of blackened blood forming on his chest and arms, and his daughter knows how to read it, and where it goes. Queue the adventure! In the meantime, we see that some dastardly demons (who are really someone else, and I won’t give away that spoiler) hatching from a bloated hippo body in a zoo, and are hands down the freakiest henchmen/demons I have met in a long time. I loved it. They were somewhat simple, yet so complex and the constant need to feed gave them some serious malevolence without being overly silly and stupid. They generally are horrifying, and the art of Travel just makes it that much more creepy.
Animal Man and his daughter go on a road trip, and by road trip I mean fly through places, letting the animals guide them to where they need to go, and before you know it, BAM, animal spirits and totems begin to bleed into them and they are transported to the source of the Life Web, called The Red, and in here, Animal Man’s daughter reigns supreme. It’s kind of awesome to see a four year old girl have near omnipotence, but her innocence and Animal Man’s guiding voice, along with a new companion who takes the cake for cat of the year, help them subdue the demons for the time being. However, things are not all fine and dandy, and in a moment of desperation and a good example of when good ideas go bad, Animal Man’s daughter unleashes a horde of animals on the demon to help her father, but in the process, causes something much worse. I am actually laughing maniacally right now because I can tell you all want to know what happens, but I am not going to tell you. I feel like I have already said too much haha, but trust me when I say this: Oh…..Shit……Not good.
The writing is so well done in this, that I was eagerly flipping each page, and then flipping back because I wanted to fully appreciate the art as well. The action flows very well, and the creepiness of the demons and The Red is just a sight to behold. The combo team of Lemire and Foreman is top notch and I am thoroughly excited to grab volume two very, very soon. I was completely surprised at how cool Animal Man could be , much like how Aquaman has gotten a slight boost in credibility, Animal Man has morphed and changed his way into my heart, and I can’t wait to delve back into the stories crafted by Lemire and Foreman. Good on ya guys. Animal Man is effing sweet, and I beg you to accept my suggestions. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a skeletal bird hovering near me, and it looks hungry.
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