READ MY LIBRARY ENTRY 24: More Animal Man – From B’wana to Freedom Beast

After spending all day on the road, Max whips up a quick blog entry covering Animal Man’s further adventures in Animal Man: Origin of the Species, where AM encounters B’wana Beast once more, though to a much different end than before.

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Written 3/14/2012

My wife and I spent all day driving up to Canada today to visit her family for a week.  The trip was nice, but lonnnng—especially as we got stuck in traffic in Toronto.  But we’re here at last and before I turn in, I thought I’d do a little writing.

Being a bit tired and sore after the long drive, I decided to take a bath.  Good thing I brought my water damaged copy of Animal Man Origin of the Species with me!  It’s the perfect bath time reading material at this point in time (and the only comic I plan to take anywhere near a bath anytime soon).  I was excited to read more adventures of B’wana Beast, and even got excited when glancing through the pages, it looked like B’wana Beast’s civilian name was “Max!”  Well, after closer reading, it turns out B’wana’s civilian ID is actually “Mike Maxwell” but that’s still kinda cool.  At any rate, I got all cozy in the bath and began to read more adventures of Animal Man.

The story starts with Animal Man AKA Buddy Baker meeting up with Mike Maxwell (no longer really B’wana Beast) in an airport after escorting Vixen to her flight.  The two catch up in an airport bar like two old buddies, even after they nearly killed one another in the first Animal Man story arc/trade paperback.  Buddy thanks Mike for helping him see how much animal cruelty there is in the world.  Mike tells Buddy that he can’t be B’wana Beast anymore and that he must find his successor, and he wants Animal Man’s help.  While reluctant at first, Buddy decides what the hell, why not see the real Africa?

It's Freedom Beast!

Freedom Beast takes over for B'wana Beast

After some soul searching, Mike Maxwell finds out the next beast should be Dominic Mndawe, a photographer and freedom fighter trying to fight for better rights in South Africa.  This is all taking place during the rule of apartheid in South Africa, and Dominic is arrested for taking pictures of racially motivated acts of brutality which are being committed by white Afrikaner policeman.

Mndawe’s actions are causing a lot of trouble for these policemen, and they want him silenced.  He is beaten, kidnapped, and nearly killed before Animal Man and Maxwell can save him.  Discovering that he is to be the new B’wana Beast, Mndawe rejects that title “B’wana Beast” calling it a “white imperialist title” (I looked up “B’wana” and it is a respectful address in certain parts of Africa, sometimes meaning “our father,” which I could see how it could be seen as white imperialist) and instead becomes Freedom Beast, helping stop an uprising from ending up in bloodshed.  Maxwell decides to stay and help train Freedom Beast, while Buddy heads home.

Freedom Beast and Animal Man

Freedom Beast calls it symbolism...

Murder by Zebra Unicorn

...But what it really is is a murder by a zebra unicorn created with Beast powers! OUCH!

I’ve seen Freedom Beast here and there, most notably in the Day of Venegeance Infinite Crisis tie-in, but wondered what happened to the original B’wana Beast.  Now I know.  If I remember correctly, Freedom Beast (a pretty cool character judging from this Animal Man story alone) was killed off as part of Justice League Cry for Justice as an aside, much like Tazmanian Devil was.  What a waste.  I hope DC brings back B’wana Beast at some point, or the much more progressive Freedom Beast, at some point as part of their New 52.  I just dig the character(s) now!

The other story I was able to read in the bath before the water went tepid was the following issue/chapter, a story that takes place back at the Bakers’ house.  Buddy and Ellen’s daughter Maxine is seen outside talking to a familiar figure, who she claims is her father. However, Ellen sees no one there and Buddy hasn’t returned.  Cliff and his friends play Ouija Board and it seems to send Cliff a specific message “Cliff 9 27” and then a glass breaks and cuts one of Cliff’s friend’s hands.  Ooky.  Ellen starts to get mighty scared and even pulls out a knife, just as the real Buddy comes home.  Buddy sees the shadowy figure that Maxine saw out in the rain and confronts him, and even recognizes him from when he was ten years old.  But…No resolution.  “Spooks,” Buddy tells Ellen.  Also in the issue is more soul searching stuff with Dr. Highwater, plus a very pushy religious door-to-door pamphlet pusher!  It’s all got to be leading up to something… What, I’ll have to find out later.

Animal Man Vol 1 #14

Maxine stumbles on a stranger...or is he?

So I’m all clean now but very tired from driving all day.  I think I’m going to join my wife and go visit my mother-in-law over some tea.

Over and out!

NOTES FROM NOW (8/31/12): This post is going up on August 31st, 2012.  If you’re reading this on that day, you need to know that Super-Fly’s 5th Anniversary Party is going on TODAY!  All day Super-Fly will be holding a 50% OFF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE SALE ALL DAY as well as holding a free show with Adam Warrock and Mikhal kHill of The Thought Criminals, starting at 8 pm.  If you’re local, you don’t want to miss this!  Come to Super-Fly at once!

Past entries of the Read My Library Blog

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