In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” This time around, we take a look at Animal Man trash talking Spider-Man!
Buddy Baker, Animal Man, has had one of the odder journeys into becoming a relatively recognizable superhero. Like Hank Pym, Buddy originated in the pages of a comic book where his powers weren’t part of being a superhero, but just as a dude who gained animal powers. Then, just like Hank Pym, he was re-introduced with the same abilities that he had before, only now as a superhero.
Here, in his first appearance as a superhero in Strange Adventures #190 (by Dave Wood, Carmine Infantino and George Roussos), we see Buddy explain how his powers work…
Animal Man began appearing sporadically in Strange Adventures over the next year, showing up every five issues or so until that series became solely a Deadman feature book.
Then Buddy vanished for the next decade or so until he popped up in a Wonder Woman arc and then Marv Wolfman put him into the meta-fictional superhero team known as the Forgotten Heroes. Buddy then went right back into limbo until Grant Morrison revolutionized the character with a new series in 1988 that was so good that DC just turned what would have been a miniseries into an ongoing series before it even came out.
Okay, so that’s Animal Man. You might be familiar with the other superhero we’re discussing today. He is not just a man, but he isn’t really a spider, either. He’s sort of like a spider-man.
In Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee showed us how Spider-Man’s powers work…
I sort of like to imagine that scene with Spider-Man lifting weights as the Hulk, Thor and the Thing watch as having actually occurred in continuity. “Whoa, hey, fellas, check out what this guy’s up to!” “I know, right? I was out rampaging but I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this dude lifting!”
Okay, so we’ve established that Spider-Man has the powers of a spider and Animal Man has the powers of ANY animals, INCLUDING a spider. So let’s then see how that was addressed in an issue of Animal Man…
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