When the DC Relaunch was announced, I didn’t get truly excited about it until I saw the “dark” books. Most of the early announcements were fairly similar to books DC was already publishing. But these off-beat titles showed promise. And Animal Man #1 delivers on that promise.
The story starts out with Buddy Baker having mostly retired from the super hero business. Instead, he is focusing on his activism and his acting career. He has just given an interview (which is included in the book) and he’s worried that he comes across as arrogant or pretentious.
The opening scenes with Buddy and his family set just the right tone. It actually reminded me of The Incredibles in the realistic depiction of family life. All the characters are very fleshed out and their problems and concerns seem real. If you didn’t care about the Bakers before, you will after reading the book.
Buddy makes a rare leap into action to help solve a hostage situation in the children’s wing of a hospital. Once again, I have to give Jeff Lemire credit. The situation isn’t caused by a raving mad man like it might be in a lesser book. Instead, Buddy finds himself talking down a dad who can’t accept the loss of his daughter. It’s very poignant stuff… and definitely sets a tone of dread.
That dread starts to payoff when Buddy’s eyes are bleeding for no apparent reason. When he sleeps that night, he has terrible dreams in which his own family is put in jeopardy. The next morning, he wakes to an ominous sign that perhaps his nightmare is coming to fruition.
If the DC Relaunch works, it’s going to be because it helped readers discover great books like Animal Man. I really hope this book catches on with the mainstream. Along with Action Comics, Animal Man is among the best the line has to offer.