Here is a new bit! Each day, I’ll feature a different cool comic thing for each letter of the alphabet! Today is A!
The first feature is about a Hero who was once Forgotten, but then became one of the most acclaimed comics of the 1980s.
Created by the underrated Dave Wood, along with artist Carmine Infantino, Animal Man was a fairly negligible hero for his first twenty years of creation, as he was a standard superhero who lost his place in Strange Adventures to the more interesting character, Deadman.
Years later, Animal Man’s only notable appearances were as a member of DC’s suitably titled “Forgotten Heroes,” a bunch of minor heroes who were, well, basically forgotten.
That all changed when Grant Morrison was given a chance at writing Buddy Baker’s stories in 1988.
Forget about the fairly controversial (for the time) take Morrison did on Animal Man, in regards to environmental issues. Heck, forget the innovative metafictional work Morrison did with the character – the most important thing to me about Morrison’s twenty-five issue run on Animal Man is that they were all good comics. Very good comics, really. Buddy, his wife and their two children were given interesting personalities, Buddy was given interesting conflicts – even if you ignore the more controversial/innovative aspects of the comic, it was just a good comic book.
Those twenty-five issues managed to keep the book alive for almost five years AFTER Morrison left the book, and after the cancelation, writers still managed a soft spot for ol’ Buddy (including, of course, Morrison himself, who used him in JLA).
Morrison helped to bring Animal Man back to the forefront of the DC Universe by giving him a major role in the year-long 2006-07 series, 52. There, like in his original series, Morrison helped stress what makes Buddy such an interesting character – yeah, he has the superpower of using the abilities of any animal he is around, but he also is an everyman, who works as a great POV character for the world of superheroes, while also providing an interesting family dynamic (I especially liked how Morrison handled Buddy’s “widow” in 52, as Ellen tries to come to terms with Buddy’s apparent death).
Buddy is currently co-starring in the fairly forgettable Countdown to Adventure, but hopefully, he can be used in cooler comics in the future!
He deserves it.