View from the Gutters is our weekly book club podcast. Each week we discuss one graphic novel or trade paperback, then nominate and vote on what to read for the next episode so you can read and discuss along with us.
This week on View from the Gutters our topic work is Animal Man, written by Grant Morrison with art by Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood. Prior to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Animal Man was a D-list superhero with less than a dozen appearances in total over the course of the silver age. Published in 1988 in the wake of the first crisis, Morrison reimagines Buddy Baker as a much younger man with a wife and young children, who decides to relaunch his superhero career in search of wealth and recognition.
However, Buddy soon finds himself drawn into real-world issues of the time like animal rights, vegetarianism, and apartheid—issues for which he finds no easily punchable solution. Meanwhile, a weird meta-textual undercurrent runs through the background of the series regarding the events of the crisis and the very fundament of reality, ultimately culminating in one of the oddest conclusions possible for a superhero comic.
Animal Man is a strange, surreal story, one of a handful of books printed by DC at the time (along with Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, and Morrison's concurrent work, Doom Patrol) that ultimately led to the creation of Vertigo Comics. It's a must-read for any fan of Morrison's work, and a great introduction for someone who's never read a Grant Morrison book before.
In our recommendation section our hosts nominated Sandman,Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, Pedro and Me, Agents of Atlas, and Superior Foes of Spider-Man for discussion on the next episode, and our selected title is Superior Foes of Spider-Man (#1-6).
Our hosts for this episode were Andrew Chard, Joe Preti, Tobiah Panshin, and Cade Reynolds.