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READ MY LIBRARY ENTRY 21: A Bit of Action Figures and Animal Man

After taking a break from writing, Max talks about some new additions to the Library before tackling Animal Man, a character rescued from obscurity in the 1990s by a then unknown writer known as Grant Morrison…

Super-Fly Comics & Games’ plucky sidekick Max Lake has embarked on a journey to read his collection of DC & other comics! Join Max each week every Friday as he takes on his Library! Titles reviewed by this blog do not necessarily reflect what the store has in stock, but you can always email the store to special order something that you’ve seen here at superflycomics@gmail.com. You can also call Super-Fly at (937) 767-1445 or just ask someone at the store next time you’re there for special orders. You can read past entries of the blog here. Any questions or comments for Max should be sent to maxdlake@gmail.com or feel free to comment in the comments section below. Check out @maxdlake to follow Max on Twitter. The things Max writes do not necessarily reflect the views of Super-Fly Comics & Games, and Super-Fly Comics & Games is not responsible for what Max says—especially anything that bugs you.

 

Written 3/5/12

I’ve gotten way behind in reading and keeping up with the blog, mainly because I’ve been spending a ton of time with my wife.   She got back from a trip a week ago, and we missed each other a lot, and have been taking time for each other.  The other thing keeping up reading is that I’m going through getting things taken care of for earlier entries (mainly editing and art) so I can start posting this blog eventually!

I got a couple new additions to the Library, notably action figures of Green Lantern B’dg (a squirrel looking Lantern), Yellow Lantern Despotel (who looks like a virus) and last, but far from least is Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern housecat who folks around Super-Fly like to call RAGECAT!!!   Dex-Star even has attachable Red Lantern rage blood vomit that he can spew!  All three characters came together as part of Mattel’s DC Classics 2nd Green Lantern wave.  Again, I’m not being very good about holding off on action figures.  I actually bought another one, DC Classics’ Golden Pharaoh a couple weeks ago too.  But there was space for all of ‘em and what the heck!  But yes, I have a problem.  My name is Max and I’m addicted to comics and action figures.

Ragecat Dex-Starr, B'dg, and Despotel, a creepy looking virus guy

Up close and cute... Er, some of them anyway!

With the help of tax returns, I’ve obtained The Aquaman Archives Vol. 1, which for the most part was drawn by Ramona Fradon, one of the few female artists of the Silver Age.  If I can get back to reading and make it through Animal Man’s books, I’ll be reading the first and only volume of Aquaman Archives soon.  I’ve read reviews that have said a lot of the stories in the volume are silly and best read by kids, but looking at the back cover, it seems Fradon drew some pretty frightening undersea life for Aquaman to take on!

So I’m going to start reading the first Animal Man trade today.  Despite the joy of being reunited with my wife and tinkering on things behind the scenes, I need to get back into a routine of reading and writing regularly again so I can have a steady stream of material.  But at least I’m taking the time to spruce this thing up and do it 100% to my liking instead of rushing it out.  Naturally, in a professional setting I wouldn’t have such leeway and would likely have deadlines and such, but despite my best intentions, this is still just a fun project.  That said, if I don’t buckle down, it will take FOREVER to read my Library so time to stop slacking and get cracking!

Written 3/10/12

Well, I’ve gotten some reading done the past few days, but getting writing done has been a touch problematic.  What’s important is that I have time and energy to do some writing now, and it’s a perfect time to do so as this week I have been able to complete the first part of the first trade paperback of Animal Man which was also the first story arc of the first Animal Man series written by now luminary, but then mostly unknown, Grant Morrison.

From Morrison’s introduction to this volume, it seems Animal Man was his icebreaker with DC Comics, who were looking across the pond for talent in the vein of Alan Moore following Moore’s success with Swamp Thing and Watchmen.  Trying to come up with a DC character to revamp, Morrison remembered the obscure Animal Man character and wanted to do something with Animal Man as a family man now.  The work became personal enough for Morrison that much like Buddy Baker AKA Animal Man, he became a vegetarian and the Animal Man comic often dealt with animal rights issues.  While Morrison admits the scope of animal rights issues far exceed what can be presented a super hero comic book, he thinks it’s worthwhile if people became a bit more aware of the subject through Animal Man.

Animal Man TPB Cover

The first Animal Man trade paperback by Grant Morrison


Back in the day, I was introduced to the Animal Man character through his inclusion in the Justice League Europe in the 90s.  Little did I know there was such a deep, interesting, mature and downright cool comic featuring Animal Man was running simultaneously to JLE.  I did finally experience the book in adulthood, as I read an issue or two in my first years of college and more recently I’ve read this first, self titled volume of Animal Man.  Now I’m re-reading it and will be moving on to the other two Morrison penned volumes for the first time.

The first part of the book deals with Buddy Baker deciding to become Animal Man again and come out of retirement.  He has apparently been doing some stunt man work while his wife Ellen is working doing storyboards and the couple two kids, a son Cliff who is older, and Maxine, the younger daughter.  Buddy begins testing his powers with Ellen while something sinister is brooding in the background of the story.  After Buddy’s neighbor offers to be his agent and a less than flattering TV appearance, Buddy gets hired by STAR Labs who have a strange life form: a bunch of lab monkeys somehow merged together into a single lifeform.

The lurking sinister presence turns out to be B’wana Beast, a character who was even more obscure a character than Animal Man (though less so now though, as B’wana Beast has shown up in the cartoons Justice League Unlimited and Batman Brave and the Bold where Animal Man has appeared in neither)!  I don’t really want to give the story away, but B’wana Beast’s motives are pure and while Animal Man does his best as well, the two end up fighting.  The ending is amazing and showcases both Animal Man’s and B’wana Beast’s powers in cool, unexpected ways.  Vintage Morrison indeed!

The whole story arc left me in love with B’wana Beast, and with a little looking, I discovered there is an action figure for him put out by Mattel.  After getting some money together this week and having an absolute failure of willpower, I purchased a loose B’wana Beast figure today.  I usually don’t go for loose figures, though B’wana usually comes in a two pack with Animal Man which increases the price greatly—and I already have an Animal Man.  Of course, I’m sure you don’t need me to explain my thought process when purchasing my toys, but if it’s going in the Library, what the hoo-hah…

The next story arc starts out even more surreal, and Morrison says in his intro that the plotline took the rest of his run to completely tell.  Wow.  Also, Buddy Baker is becoming a vegetarian as his connection to the animal world makes meat unpalatable to him now.  Buddy’s son Cliff is none too pleased at the news.

I’ve just finished a Tim Horton’s ice coffee, and have energy and time to read on into the night.  Let’s hope for some late night writing too?  Maybe, but I don’t want to push my luck!

Later.

Past entries of the Read My Library Blog

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