Animal Man, Vol. 3
After a bizarre incident with an alien spacecraft, Buddy Baker, married father of two, suddenly gained the power to temporarily duplicate the abilities of any creature within his imediate vicinity Editorial Reviews Animal Man, with the power to take on the abilities of any animal temporarily, was a minor DC hero until he was revived and revamped in this well-remembered late-1980s series. This is the third and final volume (following Animal Man and Origin of the Species), collecting Morrison's run on the comic. The wild inventiveness he showed here is evidenced in his later work on Doom Patrol and The Invisibles, as well as more mainstream work on the Justice League and Marvel's New X-Men. Only longtime fans will fully understand and appreciate the critique of DC's confused continuity that Morrison includes here. But any reader is liable to be dazzled by Morrison's audacity; he not only asks and then answers the question "How would comic book characters react if they found out they were really only pictures on paper?" but also turns the book into a meditation on the convergence of stories and reality. Metafiction, meet metacomics. Along with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, this was one of the series that inspired DC's creation of the mature readers imprint Vertigo. Recommended for all collections, for older teens and adults. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Animal Man, Vol. 3 Details

TitleAnimal Man, Vol. 3
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 1st, 2003
PublisherVertigo
ISBN-139781563899683
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Superheroes, Dc Comics, Comic Book

Animal Man, Vol. 3 Review

  • Sesana
    January 1, 1970
    If there's one thing, one plot element, that Morrison is famous for, it's here, in the on-the-page meeting of Animal Man and Grant Morrison. Everything, it seems, was working towards that moment, when the fourth wall abruptly ceased to exist entirely. It could have been gimmicky, but Morrison managed to pair that with a storyline about characters I actually cared about and were invested in. So when Buddy looks directly off the page and into the eyes of the reader? If you're invested enough, abso If there's one thing, one plot element, that Morrison is famous for, it's here, in the on-the-page meeting of Animal Man and Grant Morrison. Everything, it seems, was working towards that moment, when the fourth wall abruptly ceased to exist entirely. It could have been gimmicky, but Morrison managed to pair that with a storyline about characters I actually cared about and were invested in. So when Buddy looks directly off the page and into the eyes of the reader? If you're invested enough, absorbed enough, care enough, it will give you a chill. It got me. It wasn't the last time in this book, either. The thing is, I really liked Buddy and his family, and the twists their story took were heart breaking.There are faults, of course. The very Morrison fault of brilliant concepts presented as finished stories, which I expect. The meeting between Buddy and Morrison was a little underwhelming, too, though the background action added a surreal weight to Morrison's animal rights lecture. (And yes, although Buddy's newfound animal rights activism was Morrison putting his opinions in Buddy's mouth, they also make perfect sense for the character.) The art, too, is unremarkable. But there's such a solid core of decent metafiction and really great characters that I entirely forgive Morrison, this time.
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  • Keith
    January 1, 1970
    So I've been rereading Animal Man to remind myself if I'd ever actually read the entirety of Animal Man, and it turns out I hadn't. Apparently I'd gotten about halfway through and then skipped to the end, because there were a couple of poorly-reprinted issues in the middle that were brand new to me. It was actually kind of odd to read them now. The issues focus on a weird pseudo-epilogue to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first big continuity-focused DC crossover that took a narrative approach to So I've been rereading Animal Man to remind myself if I'd ever actually read the entirety of Animal Man, and it turns out I hadn't. Apparently I'd gotten about halfway through and then skipped to the end, because there were a couple of poorly-reprinted issues in the middle that were brand new to me. It was actually kind of odd to read them now. The issues focus on a weird pseudo-epilogue to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first big continuity-focused DC crossover that took a narrative approach to editing the company's characters by explaining retcons through science fiction, an approach that now seems to happen in Marvel and DC every three years or so.So now I think maybe Animal Man was actually Morrison having a sort of existential freakout about this newish revelation in modern comics, that continuity was even more meaningless than it had ever been, and all his favorite nooks and crannies of Silver Age weirdness had just been erased a few years prior? I could actually see that being a very real possibility, and the funny thing is that it's never occurred to me that Morrison just really, really loves Silver Age DC comics. Despite the fact that this should be totally obvious, I've always just thought he was always kind of making fun of them, but as soon as you stop and consider it, of course Grant Morrison loves Silver Age DC comics like a monk loves holy scripture. I think the idea that Morrison is always winking at the reader, laughing at the inanity of old comics -- I think this is the fabrication; this is the posturing. The real thing is that Grant Morrison. Loves. Old. Comics. It's really the only way Animal Man achieves any kind of emotional resonance, because it's not a book that is in any way about the human condition or the nature of reality or all the things it could maybe say it was about. It's not. It's about comics as fetish objects, period, and once you see it, almost all of Morrison's other books sort of, I dunno, like, refract around this idea. I think that for someone like Grant Morrison, the real world might not be very real. But comics are, for him, genuinely real, and I don't actually think he's aware that other people have a notion of reality that is as real to them as comics are to him. I also think this is the fundamental thing that separates him from his contemporaries like Gaiman and Moore and any of the other British Invasion writers. They all snuck into American comics by using them to write postmodernism. Morrison pretended he was using comics to write postmodernism when in actuality, he was using postmodernism as an excuse to worship comics.You know. Like how Jesus wrote the Bible.Anyway, so I'm glad I figured that out, and how the fuck did it take me this long to figure it out? Whatever, time for food.
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  • Zinz Vandermeer
    January 1, 1970
    Okay… So now we’ve hit the apex of weird for Morrison’s series. The man takes the concept of breaking the fourth wall and laughs at it. Writing himself right into the story and giving poor Buddy Baker some serious meta drama.When I’m recommending Animal Man to other people, I tend to recommend the first two, and suggest they don’t pick up the third trade unless they really enjoy the first pair. It’s odd, full of surreal situations and a lot of egotistical artistic back-patting. That being said, Okay… So now we’ve hit the apex of weird for Morrison’s series. The man takes the concept of breaking the fourth wall and laughs at it. Writing himself right into the story and giving poor Buddy Baker some serious meta drama.When I’m recommending Animal Man to other people, I tend to recommend the first two, and suggest they don’t pick up the third trade unless they really enjoy the first pair. It’s odd, full of surreal situations and a lot of egotistical artistic back-patting. That being said, the story is still fascinating, and as a hardcore Buddy Baker fan I really enjoyed it.So summing it up, Deus Ex Machina is odd, adventurous, and a touch self-congratulatory, but enjoyable for a true Animal Man fan.
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  • Supratim Dhar
    January 1, 1970
    Morrison doesn't have a word called Simple in his dictionary. I don't like his style. In my personal opinion the whole series can be omitted.
  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    Some of the meta, meeting your author stuff was as expected, but mostly it was done creatively and actually thinking about the psychological and emotional implications of realizing you’re a creation with no free will. Cool stuff.
  • Madeleine Morrison
    January 1, 1970
    I was sad when I finished the last page of this volume (the last Grant Morrison Animal Man volume). In three volumes, Grant Morrison crafted a story about an obscure DCU superhero I had never heard of and reinvented the character, giving him, the characters surrounding him, the universe he exists in such wonderful depth that once you fall in (to the deep hole....depth?), you won't be able to get out but you won't mind, who would want to leave?I'm not a fan of Watchmen and I'm very open about it. I was sad when I finished the last page of this volume (the last Grant Morrison Animal Man volume). In three volumes, Grant Morrison crafted a story about an obscure DCU superhero I had never heard of and reinvented the character, giving him, the characters surrounding him, the universe he exists in such wonderful depth that once you fall in (to the deep hole....depth?), you won't be able to get out but you won't mind, who would want to leave?I'm not a fan of Watchmen and I'm very open about it. It's just not my thing. But, at the same time I love it for its EFFECTS. Firstly, probably the most important thing it did was cause DC to go looking for more "edgy" British writers. Cause, you know. Alan Moore is from there and so that's where you'll find other good writers...I MOCK BUT THEY DID. So, Alan Moore's Watchman opened the corporate doors to seeking out more experimental, mature, and "edgy" writers which led them to Grant Morrison (and Neil Gaiman <3, who reinvented Sandman around the same time Morrison was reinventing Animal Man). The second reason why it's important is because, although I don't care for Moore, MY gods were heavily influenced by him and will always say something like "If it wasn't for Alan Moore, I probably wouldn't be doing this." So cheers for that! But Animal Man is sort of the antithesis of Watchmen. Kind of. It's dark and there are some mature, fucked up themes that are very real - similar to Watchmen in that respect, I guess. But the end-goal and style are quite quite different. By the end of Animal Man, what the reader has experienced his one of the greatest pieces of literary deconstruction AND ITS A COMIC TOO (PICTURES). But really, "literary deconstruction" is just the beginning, cause it's much more. Deconstruction of actual human perception, perhaps existence. Examination at controversial ethical topics. Examination of the culture of violence. And fucking hope. Brilliantly written and executed, a story about so many things really is about one thing, to me: hope. But hope that isn't easy won and handed to us and the character in a nice box with nice wrapping. That hope would break easily. No, this is...well, you'll just have to read it to see.The only thing that prevents me from recommending this to everyone is that toward the last half of the three volumes, Morrison starts pulling from quite a lot of DCU concepts and history in order to tell part of his story - it's not actually ABOUT the characters. You could probably replace them with any number of other fictional characters. But, he was writing in the DCU and writing not too long after the Crisis on Infinite Earths (a major DC crossover event that redefined the DC universe), so he made appropriate choices and I'm just lucky to have been pretty informed about DCU history at the time I got around to reading this (takes a lot of work...). But, I'd say if Gaiman's The Sandman is number 1, then Animal Man is number 2..or 1.5..But, I haven't finished Morrison's Invisibles yet and it's a tight race!
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  • Adrian Alvarez
    January 1, 1970
    This final volume of Morrison's run on the Animal Man title culminates in balls out meta-fiction, which was interesting for all its implied, abstract elements of contemplation but as far as the text itself it worked as a kind of short hand for theoretical work a reader could do, you know, on his own time. Lack of intellectual rigor aside, this is a comic book, meaning it has certain responsibilities to entertainment as well as enlightenment and I thought Morrison balanced both wonderfully.I am s This final volume of Morrison's run on the Animal Man title culminates in balls out meta-fiction, which was interesting for all its implied, abstract elements of contemplation but as far as the text itself it worked as a kind of short hand for theoretical work a reader could do, you know, on his own time. Lack of intellectual rigor aside, this is a comic book, meaning it has certain responsibilities to entertainment as well as enlightenment and I thought Morrison balanced both wonderfully.I am so glad I read Crisis On Infinite Earths before this series as much of the last issues in this volume deal directly with that event, even critiquing its foundation (what does it mean when a character is "outdated" and needs to end? What is a character? When does a character live?). Animal Man develops into a sort of comic book superhero version of Sartre's No Exit crossed with Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author. Though the final surprise confrontation comes off a little kitschy (like Julia Roberts playing herself in Ocean's 12), this story was written at a time when postmodernism wasn't as familiar as it may be now. I definitely recommend this three volume series but I think a reader gains more from reading Crisis On Infinite Earths as prerequisite literature, if only for the final volume. In any case, this certainly has been a great introduction to Grant Morrison's interests and daring as a writer.
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  • C. Varn
    January 1, 1970
    Animal Man volume three collapses the fourth wall and the panel; Morrison uses Crises on Infinite Earth as a way to reimagine the multiverse and the relationship of characters to comic creators. Furthermore, elements from issues nine forward start to make more and more sense as the story arc is wrapped up and some of the earlier rushed stories seemed to add into something. The utter destruction of the fourth wall and the extreme meta-textuality works here because the character and plot have buil Animal Man volume three collapses the fourth wall and the panel; Morrison uses Crises on Infinite Earth as a way to reimagine the multiverse and the relationship of characters to comic creators. Furthermore, elements from issues nine forward start to make more and more sense as the story arc is wrapped up and some of the earlier rushed stories seemed to add into something. The utter destruction of the fourth wall and the extreme meta-textuality works here because the character and plot have built up to it, and because it allows Morrison to comment on many of the flaws he saw in superhero comics in the 1980s. This is not to say every element hits, it doesn't. Some plot lines seem too on the nose, and Morrison's conversation with Buddy in the book have some obvious and weighted philosophical commitments that are in keeping with the characters but seem a little cliche now. The art is competent but not particularly ground-breaking, and the meta-textual elements are not as fresh now and a little too dead on. That said, it was definitely groundbreaking in 1989-1990 and did deconstruct the superhero in an early different way than say Alan Moore or Frank Miller. For those who enjoyed the first two volumes but felt a little underwhelmed, I think most will think this pays off. For those who did not enjoy the meta-textual elements, well, this won't be their cup of tea.
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  • Xisix
    January 1, 1970
    Had read dis one previously though never clicked button. Not crazy about artwerke though ole Grant Morrison creatively subverts the genre. Deus ex Machina - God from the Machine (aka "an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.") Spoiler : Animal Man Buddy confront the writer Grant Morrison. Although this 4th wall has a bit of hokey look at me I'm clever to it, Grant does manage to cast light on symbiotic quality o Had read dis one previously though never clicked button. Not crazy about artwerke though ole Grant Morrison creatively subverts the genre. Deus ex Machina - God from the Machine (aka "an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.") Spoiler : Animal Man Buddy confront the writer Grant Morrison. Although this 4th wall has a bit of hokey look at me I'm clever to it, Grant does manage to cast light on symbiotic quality of art to it's creator. Thought process extends to one's own person. Who writes the script ? At ending of graphic novel it mentions that there are no concise stories : "Life doesn't have plots and subplots and denouments. It's just a big collection of loose ends and dangling threads that never get explained." The impulse is to make something 'important.' Go beyond flashy drivel and repetitive fighting. Hero of story is even slightly mocked and called "A generic comic book hero with blond hair and good teeth. One of hundreds." To wrap up this brief review : Enjoyed though felt this work was still coming to terms with the elements. Doom Patrol began to refine it in psychedelic synergy where "The Invisibles" manage to make it all click. Boom!
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  • sixthreezy
    January 1, 1970
    I was absolutely blown away by this last volume of Animal Man by Grant Morrison. Everything that had been written up until this point, is utilized in such a special way. It's so hard to ignore the absolute talent of Grant Morrison. When his writing makes sense, it can really be of some of the best quality writing period, let alone in graphic novels themselves. This was of graphic novel classic quality, and I see now why so many hold this high on the list of comic classics. The fourth wall isn't I was absolutely blown away by this last volume of Animal Man by Grant Morrison. Everything that had been written up until this point, is utilized in such a special way. It's so hard to ignore the absolute talent of Grant Morrison. When his writing makes sense, it can really be of some of the best quality writing period, let alone in graphic novels themselves. This was of graphic novel classic quality, and I see now why so many hold this high on the list of comic classics. The fourth wall isn't just broken in this volume, it's completely removed and eventually ends in an issue with Animal Man being lectured by Grant Morrison about the world he lives in. So many other writers could have attempted this, and it wouldn't have read nearly quite as well as it does here. When Buddy Baker first realizes the audience, being the reader, it's an absolute blast to the brain and you wonder, am I really reading someone's life? Morrison is definitely one of the most creative comic writers, and this volume of Animal Man that composes his last few issues in his run, are definite proof of this.
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  • Sunil
    January 1, 1970
    All Buddy Baker wanted to do was use his animal powers to fight for animal rights but he had to go and be written by Grant Morrison, who's obsessed with obscure comic book characters and commentary on comic book continuity and the metafictional levels of reality. All of this might make sense if you get really high, and Animal Man does give that a shot (Morrison has incorporated/appropriated a lot of Native American shamanistic beliefs about totem animals), but then we have to address the Crisis All Buddy Baker wanted to do was use his animal powers to fight for animal rights but he had to go and be written by Grant Morrison, who's obsessed with obscure comic book characters and commentary on comic book continuity and the metafictional levels of reality. All of this might make sense if you get really high, and Animal Man does give that a shot (Morrison has incorporated/appropriated a lot of Native American shamanistic beliefs about totem animals), but then we have to address the Crisis and the multiverse and finally we get to the moment we've all been waiting for, and it is indeed meta as hell, though I'm not quite sure what the purpose of it all was (ie, why Animal Man). I do like how Morrison ties together a lot of his run, making callbacks to previous standalones and bringing back various characters so that it feels like a cohesive story that was all leading up to this. All in all, this was a pretty good time, and very Grant Morrison, for better and for worse.
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  • Phil
    January 1, 1970
    I wonder if this is the longest anyone has ever taken to read a volume by GM, or all the volumes he wrote in the series for that matter. Although I somewhat enjoyed the existential abstraction of Animal Man's universe, it just didn't grab me. Of course I'm relatively knew to the whole graphic novel scene so I may not have the "time in" to fully appreciate the ground breaking nature of this run. Probably why I procrastinated so long in coming back to it. To be honest I think I jumped back in just I wonder if this is the longest anyone has ever taken to read a volume by GM, or all the volumes he wrote in the series for that matter. Although I somewhat enjoyed the existential abstraction of Animal Man's universe, it just didn't grab me. Of course I'm relatively knew to the whole graphic novel scene so I may not have the "time in" to fully appreciate the ground breaking nature of this run. Probably why I procrastinated so long in coming back to it. To be honest I think I jumped back in just to say I finished it! I've never really enjoyed shows or novels that cross-over from a fantasy or sci-fi world with our reality. It's just two different frames of mind I prefer to keep separate.Anyway, my next foray into the superhero world will be something a little less thought provoking with some raw rock 'em and sock'em escapism.
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  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    This is the book where the Morrison-type stuff comes together. Not only is it smart, but it's fun, too -- as much a page-turner as anything. The metafiction peaks here, but it's not as stodgy as that might sound. Reading it this far after the fact lets us see not only the obvious take on Crisis on Infinite Earths, but also some of the early ideas that would get a much bigger working in Final Crisis (and, to some extent, the sort of multi-year structuring that worked so well in, say, his run on B This is the book where the Morrison-type stuff comes together. Not only is it smart, but it's fun, too -- as much a page-turner as anything. The metafiction peaks here, but it's not as stodgy as that might sound. Reading it this far after the fact lets us see not only the obvious take on Crisis on Infinite Earths, but also some of the early ideas that would get a much bigger working in Final Crisis (and, to some extent, the sort of multi-year structuring that worked so well in, say, his run on Batman).That said, I imagine this was far crazier and challenging a read in the late 1980s than it is now, but that might also allow it to feel more playful now.
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  • Chadwick
    January 1, 1970
    Ah, the days when metafiction and comics were just going on their first dates. I'm so glad this is finally collected in trade paperback. Animal Man was so much fun. The art is kind of lame early 90s bad DC house style, until the end of the book. I always cry at the end.
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  • Pablo Martinez
    January 1, 1970
    No need to write a review when the book reviews itself.
  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    It starts a little slow (the first four issues are leaden), but by the time Animal Man is fighting Psycho Pirate's non-continuity army outside the panels of the page, I was totally into the series. Buddy's trip through comic book limbo was nicely done also. I got a warm feeling from the thought that my favorite characters always live when I re-read their stories. Max Lord and Kon-El Superboy deserve better fates than what the DCU gave them.The last issue had some neat ideas, but was a slight let It starts a little slow (the first four issues are leaden), but by the time Animal Man is fighting Psycho Pirate's non-continuity army outside the panels of the page, I was totally into the series. Buddy's trip through comic book limbo was nicely done also. I got a warm feeling from the thought that my favorite characters always live when I re-read their stories. Max Lord and Kon-El Superboy deserve better fates than what the DCU gave them.The last issue had some neat ideas, but was a slight letdown. It would've made a better half-page denouement to Morrison's run than a full-issue denouement.Truog's art wasn't terribly inspired though. A little stiff, and sometimes awkwardly drawn, though he does do a most good job at the more conceptual elements of the series.Unlike some Morrison books, Grant managed to keep his characters focused and believable. He sometimes allows them to become cyphers while he focuses on some grand idea that doesn't quite come together. Part of the reason Animal Man succeeds is just because you like Buddy, and his family.
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  • Tom Brennan
    January 1, 1970
    Morrison doubles (or trebles) down on the metaphysics in this volume, doing some wall breaking in the process. Questions do get answered, but the answers take their own sweet time in coming. Also, I was surprised how invested I was in Buddy Baker - a supposedly D-list superhero. It may just have been that he (Baker) needed the right author to bring him to life. That said, I think it does help to have a passing familiarity (like me) of the events going on in DC's continuity when Morrison was writ Morrison doubles (or trebles) down on the metaphysics in this volume, doing some wall breaking in the process. Questions do get answered, but the answers take their own sweet time in coming. Also, I was surprised how invested I was in Buddy Baker - a supposedly D-list superhero. It may just have been that he (Baker) needed the right author to bring him to life. That said, I think it does help to have a passing familiarity (like me) of the events going on in DC's continuity when Morrison was writing - Invasion, and Crisis on Infinite Earths. The latter especially has an effect on the narrative. That said, there are very few issues in this run where Animal Man actually fights for animals. I think I can count five, which means there's a whole lot of something else going on. Finding out what that is, and what it means is one of the great pleasures of the story. And in the end, that is what it's all about.I plan on continuing the run to see how other writers wrote the series. Good stuff.
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  • Robert Timmons
    January 1, 1970
    Sadly I didn't like the end of this series, I loved how some odd sections in the first two volumes were brilliantly tied up but I strongly disliked Morrison inserting himself into the last two issues and the whole breaking of the fourth wall and references to The Crisis. I also hated how Morrison spent a number of pages thanking everyone, I didn't think panels of the comic needed to be used for this. So this gets 3 stars and the series overall gets four stars
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  • Galih Khumaeni
    January 1, 1970
    "Hey Grant, as our new writer at DC we're going to give you this minor character that no-one's done a run for in a while, see if you can re-invigorate him""Lmao bet"[proceeds to write a metaphysical epic]
  • Zuzka Namu Jakubkova
    January 1, 1970
    I had no idea how deep will the metaanalysis of comic book genre go. Well, it goes very deep. I find that concept very likeable.
  • Chad D'Cruze
    January 1, 1970
    This is some good shit.
  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    Animal Man is still Morrison's best comic run, and still my favorite run by anyone.
  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastically meta ending to a fantastically meta run.
  • Julian
    January 1, 1970
    This is my second review of Animal Man. My first was written in the white heat of extreme irritation caused by the rather tedious animal rights rhetoric of Animal Man, Book 1: Animal Man, and this blinded me to the manifold excellence of this third volume of the sage and also Animal Man, Book 2: Origin of the Species. Hence this new review: on calm consideration, my view has changed and I can now see what a remarkable story Grant Morrison has told.So, let me start with a word of advice. Most of This is my second review of Animal Man. My first was written in the white heat of extreme irritation caused by the rather tedious animal rights rhetoric of Animal Man, Book 1: Animal Man, and this blinded me to the manifold excellence of this third volume of the sage and also Animal Man, Book 2: Origin of the Species. Hence this new review: on calm consideration, my view has changed and I can now see what a remarkable story Grant Morrison has told.So, let me start with a word of advice. Most of volume 1 is material of lower quality, so I recommend the cautious reader to skip all of that book except for the story called The Coyote Gospel, which sets the scene for all that is to come. If you then proceed to volumes 2 and 3 you will have read not a piece about animal rights, but a profound, often hilarious and moving study of the nature of reality, the nature of fiction and the many convolutions in the history of the DC Universe.Animal Man is a very minor, or so we think, superhero, who can take on the power of a nearby animal, so if he sees a bird he can fly, etc. Okay, fine. But then he meets an animal who gives him a manuscript written in an alien tongue. Then he encounters aliens in Africa who seem to know more about him than he does. And then reality starts to shift and he begins to meet slightly different copies of himself, almost as if they were earlier drafts. All this while his family live in an atmosphere of menace and eventually tragedy strikes, leading to our hero entering a state of deepest despair. And that is precisely when the Psycho-Pirate, who had been incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, decides that he doesn't like the way the DC Universe is nowadays, and tries to bring back all of the old characters who had been written out of the story. Reality fractures. Animal Man (sort of) saves the day, and then goes on a quest as pointless as the one in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail only at the end he meets, well, God. Of a sort.So, that's a top-level view. The thing is that Morrison virtuosically plays with multiple levels of reality and multiple layers of reality, so there aren't just multiple version of Animal Man floating about, there are universes embedded within one another: the stories of one universe are real to the inhabitants of another. The Psycho-Pirate seems to be aware that Crisis on Infinite Earths was a comic book and that he is a character in a comic book. And in one of the most amazing moments in the story the character turns and looks out of the page and sees - us. So we are pulled into the DC Universe just as it is pulled out into our world, the bounds of reality dissolve, and there is always the inevitable question: if Grant Morrison is writing the adventures of Animal Man, does that mean that someone else is writing the adventures of Grant Morrison? Morrison leaves that question unanswered, but it is left tantalising us right to the end. If we turned round, who would we see?Now let's get to the obligatory pretentious bit. One of the key difficulties in epistemology is the precise status of counter-factuals. That is to say, if I ask 'what if?' and so question what the world might have looked like had something been different from the way it actually was, how do I tell what the answer to my question is? I can scarcely appeal to facts on the ground, as they relate to reality, and I am talking about something different from reality. Many words have been wasted on this, with some writers proposing that in fact counter-factuals never make any sense. But this is too sweeping: asking what the world have been like now had President Kennedy not been shot is clearly untenable, but asking what the temperature in a saucepan of water would have been had I lit a fire under it is easy to answer in some way that is hard to explain. And so in On the Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis proposed that in fact all possible worlds have equal ontological status and so counterfactuals merely consist of statements about worlds other than the one we currently inhabit. This is rather startling, but in the context of what I've said about Animal Man, you can probably see where I'm going. If Lewis is right (and his thesis is the most persuasive I have seen on the subject) then the fictive world conjured by Morrison is just as real or fictional as the one we and Morrison inhabit, and so is the world of the characters in the comic books that Animal Man's children read. So we have both an infinite regress of universes and a family of equally possible worlds, and Grant Morrison, by taking a minor DC character and utterly subverting his world, has shown us just how strange reality might be. If there were such a thing, that is.
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  • James Schneider
    January 1, 1970
    Here it is. The Grant Morrison Prime Directive. These stories we tell are bigger than us, better than us, but of us. We have a contract. We shepherd these better beings for money and for adulation, but we trade away pieces of ourselves, and we still get the better end of the deal. There is a common line of thought in the comics community, which in summation reads as "Alan Moore came along in the 1980s and deconstructed the super hero." I suppose this is literally true, but he didn't perform a li Here it is. The Grant Morrison Prime Directive. These stories we tell are bigger than us, better than us, but of us. We have a contract. We shepherd these better beings for money and for adulation, but we trade away pieces of ourselves, and we still get the better end of the deal. There is a common line of thought in the comics community, which in summation reads as "Alan Moore came along in the 1980s and deconstructed the super hero." I suppose this is literally true, but he didn't perform a literary deconstruction in the existentialist or post-modern sense, he performed a destruction, or perhaps a dissection (in the case of Swamp Thing, a literal dissection). Moore wrote psycho-social critiques in the form of comics. The characters in Watchmen were "underwear perverts" with broken minds. Morrison addresses this directly in the final chapter of this volume, "We'll stop at nothing, you see. All the suffering and the death and pain in your world is entertainment for us. Why does blood and torture and anguish still excite us? We thought that by making your world more violent, we would make it more 'realistic,' more 'adult.' God help us if that's what it means."Morrison's approach is in keeping with academic deconstruction. He deconstructs the role of the writer, the reader, the characters. His conclusions are both existentialist and metaphysical, an interesting tightrope. Writers are shepherds, they may write the events, the speech, even the thoughts of these characters, but conclusions on morality and meaning are not the author's to make. These characters are bigger than their creators, bigger than their readers. The universes that comics characters inhabit are, after a fashion, self-sustaining. The DC universe is a living thing, as or more valid than the universe that the writers and readers inhabit. Superman is much more important and vital than any one or any dozen people who 'control' him. He is a self-replicating virus of an idea. Morrison explores these themes again and again in his work, from The Invisibles, his dadaist existential epic, to his own prose history and treatise on the superhero, Supergods. His worldview is an appealing one. In Moore's fairly baiting assessment of the field, there is a mass culpability between the industry and those who support it. A culpability for juvanilia and darkness. Morrison takes the opposite view, that culpability would assume more power than is warranted. These are our myths, and mythology is important. It is a vital part of culture. It's a beautiful idea. Buddy Baker meets his maker and comes to understand his own immortality. He holds all the power in the relationship, but he'll let us pretend we do for the time being.
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  • Fizzgig76
    January 1, 1970
    Reprints Animal Man (1) #18-26 (December 1989-August 1990). Animal Man is finding out more about himself and his origins than he ever could believe. Contacted by James Highwater, Buddy learns that he might not truly be in control of the world he inhabits. When tragedy strikes Buddy and his family, Animal Man finds his whole perspective on life has changed…and despite being out of his control, someone is controlling his life!Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Chas Truog and Paris Cullin Reprints Animal Man (1) #18-26 (December 1989-August 1990). Animal Man is finding out more about himself and his origins than he ever could believe. Contacted by James Highwater, Buddy learns that he might not truly be in control of the world he inhabits. When tragedy strikes Buddy and his family, Animal Man finds his whole perspective on life has changed…and despite being out of his control, someone is controlling his life!Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Chas Truog and Paris Cullins, Animal Man 3: Deus Ex Machina is the third and final part of Grant Morrison’s critically acclaimed run on the book and follows Animal Man 2: Origin of the Species.Animal Man was a very experimental DC Comic when it was released in 1988. DC had yet to invent Vertigo at the time and something along the lines of Animal Man was pretty rare. Animal Man helped turn Grant Morrison into a comic god (literally) among fans and to this day is still a fun read.The first part of the story deals heavily with Crisis on Infinite Earths which is great if you read Crisis. Crisis erased tons of DC Universe history and one of the only persons who remembered it was Psycho Pirate…Morrison wraps this up in this volume and tempts people by hinting that the pre-Crisis worlds were on the verge of returning. Within this bubble Morrison also slyly adds one of the strangest twists in comic book history.Grant Morrison’s take on Animal Man easily could have been seen as pretentious if it wasn’t done so well. Throughout the series, there had been allusions to the famous last issue Animal Man (1) #26 (August 1990) “Deus Ex Machina” that has Grant Morrison writing himself into his own story. Since Morrison had given the story this direction throughout his run, “Deus Ex Machina” is almost a misnomer since it was the only way it could have ended…in the technical sense of the term, but in the literal sense he is the God from the Machine (aka comic). The only aspect that really is a deus ex machina in the technical term is that Morrison undoes all his work by restoring Buddy’s family to life at the end.It is odd to see a comic get personal…much less a mainstream superhero comic. Animal Man gets personal and that is why it is so memorable. Morrison even states in the comic that Animal Man was just “A generic comic book hero with blond hair and good teeth. One of hundreds”, but he turned that generic character into something new and different. Morrison left after his volume and Animal Man 3: Deus Ex Machina is followed by Animal Man 4: Born to be Wild by Peter Milligan and Tom Veitch.
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  • John Kirk
    January 1, 1970
    There are two main aspects to this story: the action/revenge, and the metafiction. They're both handled well, and it picks up on hints that were dropped in earlier issues, showing that Morrison had been planning this for a while.(view spoiler)[The action story is done competently: there's a plausible reason for Animal Man to get a power-up, and it's interesting to see him go down the Punisher route. I wouldn't want the whole series to be like that, but it works well for a while.Then we get the r There are two main aspects to this story: the action/revenge, and the metafiction. They're both handled well, and it picks up on hints that were dropped in earlier issues, showing that Morrison had been planning this for a while.(view spoiler)[The action story is done competently: there's a plausible reason for Animal Man to get a power-up, and it's interesting to see him go down the Punisher route. I wouldn't want the whole series to be like that, but it works well for a while.Then we get the return of several pre-Crisis characters. This reminded me of what Mark Waid later did with Hypertime: the idea that "it's all true!" and none of the other worlds have completely disappeared. I can understand people feeling affection for some of the old characters, and it's interesting to see how many of them have subsequently reappeared (e.g. Doiby Dickles turned up in Young Justice).Similarly, I liked the idea of a literal limbo for characters who aren't currently appearing in stories. Peter David did something similar with Supergirl (Linda Danvers) and Fallen Angel, although that story was published several years later.It all led up to a conversation between Buddy Baker and Grant Morrison, and I have to give Morrison credit: the story was more clever than I originally thought. The problem with having Buddy leave the comic is that (by definition) he's still there, i.e. I'm reading it. This book worked around that by having literal self-insertion, i.e. the writer went in rather than the character coming out.There are also some interesting comments about the nature of the medium, e.g. the implied passage of time between panels. Scott McCloud has written more about that, and it also came up in a Doctor Who episode a couple of years ago, but I think Morrison may have got there first.The story ends with a retcon, and normally I wouldn't be keen on that, but in this case it makes sense. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Ma'Belle
    January 1, 1970
    The first two chapters/issues of this volume, describing Animal Man and Highwater's peyote trip, is probably my favourite part of this series. I got really excited the more the presence of the 4th wall was teased out. Grant Morrison is admirably but also sadly honest about the fact that it ends with an anticlimax. It definitely peters out. The jabs at his own cop-outs with dialogue are funny, but reveal what's missing. As Grant Morrison the DC character says to Animal Man toward the end of the s The first two chapters/issues of this volume, describing Animal Man and Highwater's peyote trip, is probably my favourite part of this series. I got really excited the more the presence of the 4th wall was teased out. Grant Morrison is admirably but also sadly honest about the fact that it ends with an anticlimax. It definitely peters out. The jabs at his own cop-outs with dialogue are funny, but reveal what's missing. As Grant Morrison the DC character says to Animal Man toward the end of the story, "This is my last story. I'm sorry it's all been such an anticlimax, but this is it. This is as far as I can go with you. No explosions, no big revelations. A whimper rather than a bang." And then Morrison-as-Character starts thanking all the people involved in the creation of the comic book while Animal Man has a meaningless fight in the background.I love this series *because* of how meta it gets, and because of its purpose as a basic intro to ALF actions and the urgent need for environmental activism. But I also wish it had gone further. Once again, as Morrison-the-Character puts it [to Animal Man], "I've been planning this meeting for nearly two years. I had so much to say. It was going to be a really good story. But there's not enough space. In your world, things have to be concise. Stories have to be told in twenty-four pages. There's no room to say anything important." I really hope Morrison doesn't actually believe that. I got into comics as a young adult with shiny, new, useless degrees in philosophy and journalism *because* of books like this, The Invisibles, and Sandman - because of their ability to express bigger, more important ideas and directly turn the reader on to more advanced-level literature, history, and contemporary political issues. I hope we see more like this from Morrison again in the near future.
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  • Eric England
    January 1, 1970
    Animal Man Volume 3: Deus Ex Machina by Grant Morrison and various artists is a sublime work that masterfully conveys a wide array of tones and big ideas. The story centers on Buddy Baker, the superhero known as Animal Man, as he loses his family to violence and learns about the true nature of his existence. Morrison uses this basic framework to explore various issues and topics that are close to his creative heart. He movingly and realistically portrays the psychological impacts of grief and de Animal Man Volume 3: Deus Ex Machina by Grant Morrison and various artists is a sublime work that masterfully conveys a wide array of tones and big ideas. The story centers on Buddy Baker, the superhero known as Animal Man, as he loses his family to violence and learns about the true nature of his existence. Morrison uses this basic framework to explore various issues and topics that are close to his creative heart. He movingly and realistically portrays the psychological impacts of grief and depression, these sequences prove that Morrison is not just a wacky writer with larger-than-life concepts. He can move the reader in emotional ways despite the abstract nature of his larger textual contexts. Additionally, Morrison provides his critique of prevailing trends in modern comics. He revives the characters that were erased in the first Crisis of Infinite Earths in an attempt to show how much color they lent to the DC universe, explores the nature of comic book limbo for unused characters, and examines the hollow nature of grim and gritty comics where heroes are as bad as the villains. Many of these ideas have become standard in the superhero genre, but Morrison was a true innovator in that he was the one who put these concepts on the map. The title strains at times because the DC house style employed by the talented artists is not quite suited for the expansiveness of Morrison's artistic consciousness. Additionally, the writing is not quite as sharp or as consistent as Morrison's later masterpieces. However, Animal Man Volume 3: Deus Ex Machina is a fascinating and powerful graphic novel that shows a potent writer first beginning his trek towards transformation of the way comic book stories are told.
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  • M
    January 1, 1970
    Grant Morrison concludes his run on Animal Man with this final volume. A love letter of sorts to comics, characters, and their fans, Morrison pens a tale that causes one to rethink the world of comic books. Needing to understand his origin and powers, Buddy Baker enters into a vision quest which starts to unravel his perceptions of his universe. After a head trip that sets him face to face with his "original continuity" self, Buddy arrives home full of hope - only to be confronted with the bodie Grant Morrison concludes his run on Animal Man with this final volume. A love letter of sorts to comics, characters, and their fans, Morrison pens a tale that causes one to rethink the world of comic books. Needing to understand his origin and powers, Buddy Baker enters into a vision quest which starts to unravel his perceptions of his universe. After a head trip that sets him face to face with his "original continuity" self, Buddy arrives home full of hope - only to be confronted with the bodies of his murdered family. Donning a darker costume and murdering the men responsible, Buddy attempts to go back in time and fix the damage that has been done to no avail. Accepting that there are some things he cannot change, Animal Man encounters a world of forgotten comic book characters spilling from the Psycho-Pirate's mind. These clues and comics all lead to a final confrontation with the man behind it all - the writer himself, Grant Morrison. With this metaphysical discussion, Morrison displays a respect for the concepts and ideas that paved the way for creators like himself, while simultaneously reiterating the fact that Animal Man (and all characters like him) is a comic character who can be reinvented on a whim. Morrison does a fantastic job of blending the real and fictional world together, helping remind readers that comics should be enjoyed and relived. Thankfully, he also gives Buddy Baker his existence back, allowing Animal Man to be adapted again by the next writer. Flip through the Deus Ex Machina for a fan-favorite tale that explores the fascination with fictional reality.
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