Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Animal Man 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
But as a Go game progresses, the possibilities become smaller and smaller. The board does take on order. Soon, all moves are predictable.
Maximillian Cohen, Pi
Drew: Do you ever find yourself wondering exactly how apt an analogy is? Or that it might be more apt than we realize. One of my favorite moments from Darren Aronofsky’s Pi finds Sol positing that the unlimited possibilities of a game of Go reflects the chaos of life, and Max not quite refuting his point with the quote above. Maybe life simply becomes more predictable as we move through it. That’s certainly true of narratives — what starts as a completely open field often falls into a well-worn pattern as it winds to a close. Take Animal Man: as a series, it has been as original and unpredictable as they come, but as Jeff Lemire sets up his endgame in issue 27, some of the beats feel a bit more familiar. In fact, this issue seems to employ just about every tension-goosing tool in the box, building to what promises to be a pretty spectacular two-part finale. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Animal Man 25, originally released November 20th, 2013.
Scott: As a writer, it’s my perpetual fear that whatever idea I’ve just come up with has already been done. Even if I believe an idea to be entirely my own, I’m always a little afraid someone out there will find a similarity to some other work, and I’ll be branded an idea thief. Writers and artists accused of stealing or copying material are ridiculed to no end on internet forums. Think of the hit Dane Cook’s reputation took when he was accused of stealing material from Louis C.K. Of course, it’s entirely possible for two creative people to independently come up with the same thought. That makes it all the harder to judge two concurrent works that share strong similarities. It’s impossible to know which creator had the idea first, and unfair to blame either one for sharing what is, to them, an original concept. Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire is fighting the perception that his story is too similar to semi-sister comic Swamp Thing. Fair or not, an otherwise strong issue of Animal Man suffers from feeling a little too familiar. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Animal Man 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Todd, of course, is nominated tonight for Best Actor for his chilling portrayal of a psychic FBI agent who falls in love with a beautiful, deaf dolphin trainer in the amazing film Sea of Echoes.
–Animal Man 24
Patrick: DC has since abandoned the following nomenclature, but Animal Man used to fall under the line of “Dark” comics. This distinction generally just meant supernatural: we weren’t dealing with alien supermen or gadgety crime fighters, but Swamp Things and Magicians and Vampires. These stories also veered more into the horror genre, and there are few series that took that “dark” label to heart more literally than Animal Man. Buddy’s enemies are grotesque, his powers distort his body and mind and the bad guys routinely target his family. Hell, agents of the Rot killed his son. Writer Jeff Lemire is always careful to keep his eye on the tone, and keeps the series from becoming a slog. He’s able to lighten the mood here by pointing to his own work, and that of new series artist Rafael Albuquerque, and remind us that it might all be sorta silly. It’s a healthy reminder, and one that makes all the surrounding darkness go down a little smoother. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Animal Man 23, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Scott: Nothing rocks us harder, on a personal level, than a betrayal of trust. A cheating spouse, a conniving business partner — nothing is harder to grapple with than the idea of someone you trust working against you. It’s distressing to both your head and your heart. A similar effect can be had on a community, or an entire society, as the result of a security breach. When a place we trust is safe- a school, a temple, a movie theater- is marred by an act of terror, irreparable damage is done to our collective trust. In Animal Man 23, writer Jeff Lemire combines these two types of betrayal in one fell swoop, destroying a place we thought was safe and pulling back the curtain on someone we thought could be trusted. It’s fantastically horrific, and will make you question whether anything you believe about this title is truly as it seems.
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Animal Man Annual 2, originally released July 31st, 2013.
Scott: Nothing is more universal than a parent wanting to provide a safe place for his or her children. And I’m sure nothing is more frightening to a parent than the prospect of failing to provide that safety. For many species- let’s say, spiders, for example- that safety comes at a premium, and many who are born fail to make it to adulthood. That fear has become a reality for Buddy Baker, as he has seen his son Cliff die and been forced to wonder how he could have better protected his child. Animal Man Annual 2 thrusts Buddy’s grieving to the forefront, as writer Jeff Lemire explores a particularly touching and incredibly frightening experience Buddy and Cliff once shared.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Animal man 19, originally released April 3rd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: In the modern world of superhero comics, it’s become the norm to inject “real world” elements into the story to make the fantastic characters more relatable to readers by bringing them down to earth. Most superheroes have a secret identity or some kind of life outside of the never-ending battle that keeps them grounded, but Buddy Baker has always had an entire family to help keep him in check. As much as he’s been the Animal Man, he’s also been the family man as writers have often chosen to focus not just on Buddy, but his wife and children as well. In the aftermath of Rotworld, Jeff Lemire explores what happens when the fantastic elements of the life of our hero ends up taking away everything else. Continue reading →
Drew: Many fans were dismayed when DC spoiled the end of Batman Incorporated 8, but it really wasn’t just that they had made those spoilers available — it was that they made them unavoidable, popping up when you accessed their website with no way of avoiding the information. Sure, you could argue that the cover to that issue (which had, unfortunately, already been leaked) gave the ending away, but it’s not exactly like comic book covers have to be representing actual events in the issue. Case in point: Batman R.I.P., which — contrary to what the title suggests — [SPOILER] doesn’t feature the death of Batman. In fact, the well-known hyperbolic nature of comic book covers is precisely what made me so skeptical that Animal Man 18 would actually feature “the most TRAGIC DAY in the life of BUDDY BAKER!” (Spoilers after the jump) Continue reading →
Patrick: The End of the World. Pretty bleak subject matter, right? But we can go bleaker. Let’s kill as many superheroes as possible, and then use their grotesquely reanimated corpses to attack our protagonists. Also, no one’s safe, so those protagonists themselves can get picked off at a moment’s notice. Still not grim enough? Then let’s keep flashing back to the putrid death of our hero’s family. These are the principal building blocks of Rotworld. So if I’m using the adjectives “grim,” “grotesque” and “bleak” so much, why is this issue so much fun?
Shelby: Last month, Drew talked about Jeff Lemire thwarting our expectations to surprise us in the best way. This month is no different, as he sprinkles some obvious and not-so-obvious surprises throughout the issue. And really, he’s made it easy for us to be surprised; with Rotworld, Lemire has turned the DCU into a place where literally anything can happen. Kill all the heroes and leave the world a rotting shell? Sure! Turn characters we all know into horrifying monsters who want little more than to tear our protagonist limb from limb? Why not! In a universe where all the rules have been broken, even our wildest guesses fall short of the mark. Continue reading →
Drew: Last month, I couldn’t get over how openly writer Jeff Lemire was playing to our expectations in Animal Man. More specifically, he was setting up expectations with the express purpose of implying he was going to meet them at face value — all with an unblinking swagger that was kind of thrilling. Animal Man 14 finds him switching gears to the kinds of thwarted expectations we expect from (good) superhero comics, but that change actually makes the surprises even more surprising. Continue reading →