Swamp Thing battling ‘The Rot’ in Animal Man Annual #1
Last month brought two exciting releases for DC Comics’ New 52 fans: the release of the Animal Man series’ first trade ‘The Hunt’, and Batman Annual #1, featuring the origins of Mr. Freeze. Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man revamp has received especial praise from DC fans for its absorbing plot and lavishly grim illustrations.
Animal Man Volume 1: The Hunt
Name: Buddy Baker
Current Alias: Animal Man
Power: Ability to emulate the traits of any animal
(e.g. strength of a rhino, eyesight of an eagle)
Currently written by: Jeff Lemire
and illustrated by: Travel Foreman
If you haven’t been reading the New 52′s ‘Animal Man’, GO. No. RUN. Run to your local comic store and buy the trade ‘Animal Man Volume 1: The Hunt’.
The revamped Animal Man series is simply engrossing. It’s a dark series, and not in the sexy-gritty Bad Planet sense. It’s more like a blood-curdling childhood nightmare.
Buddy Baker is an actor, stunt-man, family man and part-time superhero. In the first issue of Animal Man, Baker’s son informs him of a hostage situation involving kids. Animal Man conjures the flight of an eagle, and soars valiantly to the children’s rescue.
The series begins light, whimsical even, with flat cartoon-like illustrations that beguile you into a seemingly routine heroic tale.
And then comes the gore.
The New 52‘s Animal Man is savagely bloody, with horrific imagery of skinless figures, and lakes flowing thick with blood. An icy sense of dread is evident through out the first comic, teasing you with hints of splatter, and a lavishly drawn nightmare sequence that just might terrorize you to the core.
Animal Man #1
Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man seamlessly develops from a gentle tale of valour, into an absorbing horror series- one of the absolute best the New 52 has delivered.
The New 52: Batman Annual #1: The Origins of Mr. FreezeBatman Annual #1
An advantage to this annual is you don’t have to read the 52 line to follow its tragic plot, just possess an adequate understanding of Bruce Wayne’s ‘lifestyle’.
Following a melancholy flashback, the annual examines an interrogation of Mr. Freeze in Arkham Asylum. Unsurprisingly, the supervillain escapes with ease, and heads straight for Bruce Wayne’s laboratory.
Unlike Animal Man, Jason Fabok’s art is very textured, which may engender vicarious shivers in the reader, especially when Mr. Freeze deluges his enemies with ice. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger’s interpretation of the character (I apologize for reminding you of that), the New 52‘s Mr. Freeze posses a complex, darkly forbidding demeanor. Fabok’s panels flow gracefully, engendering a seamless visualization of Mr. Freeze’s stark movements and chilling voice.
The annual’s tale of origins, ripe with artful symbolism and rousing action sequences, is an excellent addition to the character’s legacy.
Batman Annual #1 is currently available on Comixology, and most likely at your local comic store.
Joanna Tsanis is a columnist for the Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter: @joannatsanis