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READ MY LIBRARY ENTRY 26: Finishing Animal Man Origin of the Species

While his vacation in Canada is in full swing, Max finishes up the second Animal Man trade paperback, Animal Man Origin of the Species, guest starring Dolphin and the Justice League Europe!

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 3/16/12

Ah!  I’ve just had a refreshing bath and finished Animal Man Origin of the Species—most likely the only book I will read in the bath for this project because I own a water damaged copy (unless there are other water damaged books lurking on the Library shelves I don’t know about; I wasn’t aware of Origin of the Species being damaged previous to taking it off the shelf).  At any rate it’s a great book featuring a great character but a phenomenal writer just getting started.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

I was able to wake up early today, mainly due to a nightmare of my parents’ house being foreclosed on—somehow with all my action figures inside (I no longer live with my parents, so this was weird).  I was able to get back to sleep for a bit, but not restfully, so I got up and got to work on a few things, while Maureen slept and her grandmother sweetly and repeatedly offered me breakfast.  After awhile, Mo got up and we enjoyed breakfast together, then worked on a jigsaw puzzle with her grandfather for awhile.

Later, we took another walk by the lake, then stopped by Harvey’s, a fast food restaurant in Canada that assembles burgers to order like Subway does sandwiches.  We weren’t interested in burgers today though, we wanted POUTINE!  Poutine, for those of you not in the know, is French fries sprinkled with cheese curds (cheddar, but they taste like mozzarella) and smothered in gravy.  It. Is. Heavenly.  After that, we stopped by Comic Book Addiction again, mainly so I could pick up a $10 Aquaman book Aquaman Time and Tide, simply because Aquaman is next up after Animal Man and it was cheap enough to merit getting before I started in on ol’ Aquaman.

Aquaman Time and Tide TPB

The Aquaman Time and Tide TPB - just one more acquisition for the Library!

After we returned home, it was more puzzle solving with Maureen’s grandfather until he gave up and I decided to take a bath and do some reading.  Hell yes!  I think I mentioned it before, but reading comics in the bath was such a guilty childhood pleasure of mine.  So much so that almost all my childhood comics are sadly ruined.  But at least they were enjoyed! (And many have been replaced!)  So having an excuse to read a comic book in the bath was something I was all about.  So today, in the bath, I finished up Origin of the Species.

Picking up where I left off, Animal Man decides to help Dane, a former member of the Sea Devils (an old DC team of non-powered scuba diver heroes), now turned Eco Terrorist who asks for Animal Man’s help in stopping a massacre of dolphins by groups of whalers on the Faroe Islands.  Animal Man gladly offers to help, but they’re not alone, the female hero Dolphin is also helping.  She doesn’t say a thing in the story and her abilities seem limited to amphibian and ultrasound powers, plus looking good in a tied up top and cut off jeans shorts.  Writer Grant Morrison starts to show Buddy taking his Animal Man identity increasingly seriously in terms of animal rights.  There are losses, though Animal Man and the Eco Terrorists succeed in saving most of the dolphins from the whalers—yet they cross a few lines doing so, with Buddy almost killing a whaler in rage after the whaler tortured a baby dolphin.

Dolphin

The charming underwater super heroine Dolphin

The next story, “The Clockwork Crimes of the Time Commander” guest stars the Justice League Europe, which Buddy has recently joined as Animal Man.  Buddy and Ellen decide to visit Paris and go on a date after being apart for some time, using a Justice League teleporter to get there.  As soon as they get there, they encounter JLE members Sue Dibny, Elongated Man, Rocket Red Dmitri and Metamorpho.  The Justice League Europe, or JLE, was part of the Justice League International, or JLI, which was the Justice League of the late 80s and early 90s and played mostly for laughs, known also as the “BWA-HA-HA” era. 

Buddy and Ellen Baker and the Justice League Europe

Buddy and Ellen Baker experience the silliness of the Justice League Europe

Grant Morrison does a good job capturing the silliness of the JLI, but this is a serious story, with a minor villain, Time Commander wrecking havoc on the time stream, causing dinosaurs to roam the streets of Paris, and the French Revolution to reoccur, while cavemen swing from trees.  Buddy and the JLE rush to deal with the problem, while Time Commander camps out in a cemetery.  There, Time Commander starts making people younger and begins bringing loved ones of people grieving in the cemetery back to life using his time powers, and that’s when the JLE rush in to stop him.

A fight breaks out, but Buddy isn’t eager to engage Time Commander and tries to talk to him.  Meanwhile, Metamorpho just wants to stop the madness, shattering Time Commander’s hourglass (the source of his power) and punches him out.  Suddenly, everyone is old again, and all the departed loved ones are dead once more.  Obviously, these people are less than thrilled and Metamorpho is left wondering “What did I do wrong?”  Buddy is more than disturbed.  This was probably the second Animal Man comic I read (the first being “The Death of the Red Mask”) and much like the “Death of the Red Mask,” (which I covered here) it packs an emotional oomph and shows how the super hero game isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Time Commander gets KO'd

Time Commander gets KO'd...but at what price?

The final story in this volume has a lot going on in it, for one, a confrontation between Mirror Master and a killer (the same religious pamphlet pusher from a few issues, er, chapters, back) having a showdown as the killer tries to get the floor plans of the Baker home from Mirror Master; it goes less than stellar for the killer.  Buddy Baker is breaking into a research lab to save lab monkeys with their eyes closed shut with some other animal rights activists.  After the monkeys are liberated, the activists torch the lab.  Later, Buddy learns from Ellen that three firemen were badly injured in the blaze, and Buddy begins to rethink his entire career as Animal Man.

Is he a role model?  Should he be breaking the law?  Is he imposing his morals too much on others?  These questions all come rushing up at him, as Roger, his manager quits on him, while the new revised Animal Man origin, created by Animal Man and the aliens earlier in the book (yes, this sounds confusing and is hard to explain) to save reality is revealed.  In the end, Buddy decides to abandon his Animal Man identity, but when he returns home, he finds Dr. Highwater, the Native American who has been trying to track him down, screaming for Animal Man’s help as he is evaporating into drawing board sketch like drawings—much in the way Hamed Ali was killed earlier in the book.

And then the book ends.

In the third book, I am sure Morrison wraps up all of this reality warping and continuity tweaking with the end of his run.  It’s a mystery I can’t wait to be solved, so I am looking forward into digging into that as soon as possible—even though I won’t be reading it in the bath.  Heh.

Morrison, easily one of the industry’s best and brightest writers had it going on big time even with his first super hero work, Animal Man.  I’ve been enjoying it tremendously and have been impressed at how engrossing it is, not to mention the creativity that Animal Man uses with his powers and the dilemmas that Buddy Baker has created for himself as Animal Man as a defender of animal rights.  It’s just great stuff.

But that’s all for now.  More later after I’ve done more reading!

Past entries of the Read My Library Blog

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