Comics: DC New 52 Graphic Novels Animal Man and Catwoman

In the wake of the release of the collections of DC’s New 52 comics, we’ve started to compile some reviews for you dear readers.

Animal Man

When the DC reboot started, Swamp Thing was one of the first titles I signed up for and then a few weeks in, I started to hear about how there were connections to the Swamp Thing comic and the Animal Man comic. I borrowed a friend’s copy of the first issue and wasn’t entirely blown away by it, so I put it off until it could be bound in graphic novel form. Much like my feelings after I read the Catwoman trade, I was pretty upset that I hadn’t been getting the issues of this comic, because Animal Man is the kind of weird super hero horror hybrid that you’ve always (secretly) wanted.

Jeff Lemire has concocted a very unique story here for Buddy Baker and in that lone regard, it stands apart from every other comic being published by DC at this time. Lemire has turned Animal Man into something other than a super hero – sure he stops crimes, but he also is a family man and a part time actor. The direction this character has taken in just the first few pages is one of the most daring moves that DC made in the reboot and it paid off. If more cape comics were devoted to trying to be different and not stop the bank robbers, punch the giant robot, the genre wouldn’t feel so stale as it does sometimes.

Lemire also crafts a great character dynamic that we’re also not seeing much of in the reboot, a family. We’re getting lots of heroes and villain dynamics, bosses and employees, but the plain and old fashioned suburban family is nowhere to be found except here. Now this might not sound like a selling point to you for a super hero comic, but trust me, Lemire makes it work. He’s concocted a breathing family here that behaves and surprises the reader throughout.

I would be remiss here if I didn’t gush about the “bad guys” in this comic. They’re terrifying. While they are the same vein of villain we’ve been getting in Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing run, they seem different and even more threatening. These creatures of The Rot wouldn’t be nearly as nightmare inducing without Travel Foreman’s art. His creations are like something right out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, and this is one of the highest compliments I can pay something. He makes rotten flesh and gore look great and uses it in creative ways that we’re not seeing even in out right horror comics today. What really makes his art sing is how he manages to both make the art sequential and maintain a level of difference between each panel, furthering the nastiness of the agents of The Rot.

While reading the first issue my first thought was that the art was rather plain, but Foreman really showed me after thinking this because just when you start to think that the comic comes alive and starts wriggling and squirming onto the page and into your head.

Animal Man is one of the most unique comics from the New 52. It’s art and story both are unlike anything else we’re getting and that is an exciting feat to witness. If you’re a fan of great story telling and scary-repulsive villains this comic is for you.

Rating 9 / 10

Head on over to page 2 to check out our review of Catwoman!