The Last Days Of Animal Man #1(of 6) - 'Part One: Deny' - Conway, Batista and Meikis
Story - This will hopefully be a shorter review than usual (thank God! I hear you cry) as I don't have as much to say about it. It was a perfectly competent book, nothing bad about it, but nothing to make it really stand out.
I don't really know anything about Animal Man, never read the supposedly seminal run that Grant Morrison did with the character in the 80s, my only exposure to the man with the most all-American name in comics, Buddy Baker was in 52 and Countdown To Adventure, were he was teamed up in a sort of ad hoc cosmic team with Adam Strange (one of my favourites) and Starfire, I enjoyed him in that situation, but he remains pretty much a mystery to me. Gerry Conway too is a bit of a mystery, I know who he is, he's a bit of a legendary Comics figure thanks to his work in the 70s, but I've never really read anything he's done. So, a combination of Animal Man and Gerry Conway is not one that's likely to set my world on fire, but as I said, this was a decent, if unspectacular book.
This series is set in the future, (albeit one that doesn't seem that different to now, but how can we criticise Conway for that, nobody knows what the future will be like, he may be the new Nostradamus!), and we find Buddy Baker as an aging superhero, no longer in his prime, his kids are grown, he and his wife are having a few troubles, and most importantly, he seems to be losing his powers. What I liked about this was that we were seeing an older hero, most heroes are young and tough, but this is a guy in his 40s, still trying to help the world, I know there are a few characters who are about that age already, like the JSA, but even though they are supposed to 80 they are probably much fitter than any of us! Buddy isn't, and it's interesting, you can feel his worries about his powers. Adding to the power of his emasculation, the future setting of this series means that it's not in continuity, so you know, he could actually die, unlikely, but maybe. Later issues promise appearances by other DCU characters in this future, that could be interesting.
One of the best things about this comic was the way Conway described how Buddy's powers work, which was interesting and evovative, it's like listening to a choir of Animals, it's almost poetic, and Conway uses it well, that series of panels when Buddy is listening out for the Gorilla and then loses it were perhaps the highlight of the issue. As I said, I haven't read any other Animal Man stories, so I don't know if this is something Conway has come up with, or if it's from the original silver-age stories or from Morrison, but either way, I liked it.
So that's the good stuff, but as I said, it was nothing brilliant, the villain of the story, I can't even remember his name now, Bloodrage or something else Liefeldian, was a bit cliched, and the troubles Buddy has with his wife are also cliched. The dialogue, as is to be expected by an old-timer like Conway, was very traditional, nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't help to set the book apart, at least he made some attempts to update his style, unlike a certain long-time X-Men writer ahem ahem.
Overall, this was a perfectly adequate comic, Conway obviously still has a knack for the medium (despite working for crap TV shows like Law and Order), the beats all work, the dialogue while not spectacular does it's job, and I particularly liked his description of Animal Man's powers. It's not flashy, but if you like Animal Man, and are hankering for an old-school story that stands alone (and doesn't rub it's old-schoolness in your face, like a school disco club night), you could do worse than check out The Last Days Of Animal Man.
Hmm, it looks like I did have plenty to say about this, oh well.
Art - I really like Chris Batista's work, it's traditional and not flashy, but he has a very good style, and can draw pretty much anything, from JLA: Crisis Of Conscience, through 52, and other work like Robin he is one of DC's unsung artistic heroes. I'd like to see him work on Superman, his neo-traditional style is a perfect fit for these kinds of stories. Good stuff.
Best Line - 'Now pick out one voice, one single voice. Listen to it'
Last edited by Punchy
on Sat May 30, 2009 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.