After starting the final volume of Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man, Animal Man Deus Ex Machina Max couldn’t put it down! So here then is a look at the book in full, and it’s a mostly SPOILER FREE look at that, so click ahead without fear.
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Written 3/17/12 (wee hours of morning)
That’s about all I can say after reading the final volume of Grant Morrison’s work on Animal Man, Animal Man Deus Ex Machina. The book ties together Morrison’s entire run that has been building since the early issues into a very awesome package. Because there are so many significant things going on in this book, I don’t really feel comfortable diving in and giving up big spoiler story elements here. Monumental things happen, and that’s about all I feel comfortable saying about some aspects of the final chapters of Morrison’s run.
What I will say however, is that Morrison has taken concepts of continuity and run wild with them in a way I was surprised DC let him do without packing a multi-crossover event into. Instead, reality shaking things go down in this book that just happen to center around Animal Man. I just recently said that I thought Ambush Bug was the only one who could get away with such continuity finagling, but it seems Animal Man with Grant Morrison at the wheel is able to whip up some pretty “reality” bending stuff too.
I will also say that Animal Man is put through the trial of his life, one that I did not see coming, and it almost drives Animal Man AKA Buddy Baker mad. He doesn’t surrender as much as he may want to, but instead perseveres with some encouragement from some immortals he happens to run into while travelling through time. Don’t ask, just read the book.
Eventually, Buddy must come head to head with the Psycho Pirate who resides at Arkham Asylum, who is the only individual in the DC Universe who remembers the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s very first companywide crossover (something that now seems to plague our industry) wherein an infinite number of parallel Earths with vastly different versions of DC characters resided were consolidated into one Earth, and one continuity. It was also DC’s first of many continuity shake ups over the years, their most recent being their New 52 initiative. Anywho, Psycho Pirate begins using his powers to draw out characters forgotten and/or destroyed by the Crisis and bring them back to reality. As more and more characters from now non-existent parallel Earths show up, the crazier things become. This causes reality to unravel, and although the helpful aliens who gave Buddy Baker his Animal Man powers and Dr. Highwater come to help, it’s up to Animal Man to save the day.
Here concepts of fictional characters and the lives they lead are examined, with cool concepts being brought forth such as the fact that they will always live again as long as someone re-reads their stories—no matter what their creators do to the continuity. Very cool idea. What’s more, this entire continuity crisis in some ways acts as a better (or at least more self-contained) sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths than the multi mini-series spectacle (yet still pretty cool) that was Infinite Crisis.
On Buddy’s later journeys, he takes a trip through comic book limbo and runs into several obscure, forgotten DC characters, foremost among them the Inferior Five and the Gay Ghost (surprisingly, there’s no sign of Ambush Bug) but runs into a couple who have since made it out like Shadowpact’s Nightmaster and Mr. Freeze (who I find it hard to believe was ever forgotten). There’s even a character or two seen in limbo that Morrison would later rescue from complete obscurity, such as Jemm Man of Saturn, who appeared briefly in Morrison’s monumental JLA run. All of this however, is just the lead up to the grand finale.
The end of the book has been widely publicized (so much so that I knew about it before reading it), but I can’t bring myself to spoil it here. If you must know, Google it, but it is far more rewarding not knowing and just reading these awesome stories. Even though I knew what happens, the ending was far different than I was expecting and way cooler too. It was the perfect end of Morrison’s run and brought tears to my eyes. It has been some of the most unique forms of comic storytelling that I have ever read. Hats off to you, Mr. Morrison! (Like I already don’t love your work to death!)
I have some Animal Man issues past Morrison’s run, particularly some from Jaime DeLano’s time with the character that I’m a lot more motivated to read now (DeLano was the first writer on the Hellblazer series featuring John Constantine when that series launched), but up next for me with Animal Man is the recent The Last Days of Animal Man!
It’s into the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day as I write this (who knows when you’ll be reading it) but with my writing done, I think my sweet wife Maureen is ready for bed.
I’d best accommodate her and tuck ourselves in for the night.
Till next time…
NOTES FROM NOW (9/6/12): I must say that my good pal and longtime Super-Fly Comics staple Travis Ray has no qualms whatsoever about spoiling the ending of Morrison’s Animal Man run (or any number of other things) to anyone within earshot. He spoiled it for someone asking about Animal Man who knew nothing about the character at Super-Fly’s 5th Anniversary Party without hesitation. I nearly killed him…But that is certainly Travis Ray to the T. His nickname should be “the Spoiler!” So be careful when asking him about comics next time you’re at the store—unless you want to know the endings of things before you read them! You’ve been warned! (Travis, you know we love you buddy!)
Joking aside, I knew the ending of Morrison’s Animal Man run too before reading it, yet it still retained a lot of magic to it. That said, I couldn’t bring myself to spoil much of anything for these last chapters, which meant not scanning any interior art of the book, and even deciding not to include cover scans either. Of course, as much as I talk about comic book stories, I could be called “the Spoiler” myself, but I try to keep it light. That, and if there is something really awesome, the last thing I want to do is rob anyone of reading the amazing moments in well done comic stories themselves. I hope it’s excusable if I wax poetic or describe too much of more minor moments in comics or recount big chunks of silly stories (which you will see I did when writing about stuff from some of the Aquaman material I wrote about—and that’s coming up soon!).
So while I’m usually a little less discrete, I don’t want to spoil the end of Morrison’s Animal Man stuff more than necessary, so please forgive lack of scans for today’s entry. Then go out and buy all three of Morrison’s Animal Man TPBs: Animal Man, Origin of the Species, and Deus Ex Machina! Super-Fly (as of this writing) has Origin of the Species and Deus Ex Machina in stock now, and would be more than happy to order you a copy of the first volume. So stop by the store or get in touch!