The Last Days of Animal Man #1- Review

Back in the day one of the comics that opened my mind to what could be done with the medium of comics was Animal Man.  The adventures of Buddy Baker who was granted the ability to tap into the Earths morhogentic field and absorb the powers of any animal. This work was a stroke of genius.  Grant Morrison took an undeniably 3rd rate character and reinvented him within the structurs of a meta story.  A story within a story, a story about stories.  In many ways Final crisis has it’s roots in his run on Animal Man, although for some that story was a little too meta.  Anyway, Morrison took this character and did so many amazing things with him that he became firmly impalnted in my mind as if not one of my favourite characters then definetly one I would always have an affinity and soft spot for.

The problem then becomes that if someone is then going to take that character and run with it, then they’ve got a hell of a job on their hands.  This job has fallen to Gerry Conway in in this six issue mini series.  Chris Batista is on pencils, David Meikis is inking and the colourist is Mike Atiyeh.  And this is a sterling art team.  The art is crisp and clean, there is no confusion during the action sequences as to what is happening and more than that, they have done a great job of painting Buddy exactly as I remember, albeit a little older. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this is the Brian Bolland cover.  Brian Bollands covers are always a thing of beauty to start with, but this one is an exact  reprise of Animal man 1, except everything has gone a little skeletal – a foreshadowing of things in store for Buddy perhaps?  It struck a cord of familiarity with me and stirred my curiosity.
But let me backtrack a bit.  A few sentences ago I mentioned that Buddy was a bit older and it seems that in accordance with real time, so comic time has moved on for Buddy and his family. I got very excited looking at the fridge on p12, as it had a family pic from the original series and they look just like they looked then, so seeing how they are presented now, years later is a nice touch.  But here’s my problem and it’s not with this book, it’s with the DC Universe as a whole.  When you are trying to build a shared universe, you give it a continuty and a comom history, it allows the charcters within to relate and react with each other.  When one charcater or set of charcaters age and others (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman for example ) don’t, you set up a ludicrous precedent.  The internal workings of this universe no longer have validity.  If this were a set of books, no would buy them for if you have no internal logic then your story has no fundament.  However this is something we in comic land have acceppted for years.  This is pathetic and one of the reasons that British comics will always have a slight superiority in my mind.
Anyway back to the story.  The story is very simple, Animal Man fights a villain called Blood Rage whilst  bemoaning his age and being in denial about the fact his powers are failing him.  Thats pretty much it.  It was an enjoyable issue, standard superhero fayre and maybe I’d be keener if I wasn’t expecting something as clever as that which Grant Morrison brings to the table.  However there is still time and I’m in for the series because it was a well executed first issue.  I don’t know if  I would be though if  I didn’t have the aforementioned soft spot for this character.  It’s not bad, it’s just not exceptional. Oh and when did Buddy become a stunts coordinator, did I miss something or did I get as old as Buddy in the intervening years.
GS Reporter: Monts
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