Animal Man #1-5 by Alex CorreaPublisher: DC Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Inker: Jeff Huet
Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
Overall: 5/5 stars
Animal Man has been successful for mostly the wrong reasons. The character could be seen as the black sheep of the DC Comics family of superheroes in that his stories rarely ever follow the same structure as those of his peers. He has no arch-enemy or rogues gallery, his alter ego frequently takes center stage in most arcs and he has a happy family life with his wife and two children. His powers aren't flashy or all that exciting -- he can mimic the physical abilities of any animal on this planet.
So why is Animal worth reading? First of all, it's probably the most subversive mainstream comic revolving around a superhero. Writers have realized that they can take great liberties with the book because it's not Batman or Superman, both of whom DC Comics tend to treat like these untouchable sacred cows. In the early nineties, Grant Morrison (think Stan Lee meets Hunter S. Thompson meets Morpheus from the Matrix) realized this during his tenure writing the Animal Man when he incorporated metaphysical elements into his run. He had written himself into the book – Grant Morrison, the writer, met Animal Man, the comic book character. It was this sort of off-beat storytelling that kept the book afloat for so long.
Enter 2011 and Jeff Lemire. Given the chance the resurrect the Animal Man franchise, writer/artist/Toronto resident Jeff Lemire, opted to take an unprecedented route and write the comic as a horror story. Without giving away too much of the plot, Lemire creates as rich a mythos for Animal Man as Alan Moore did for Swamp Thing in the 80's. His origin is given a facelift for the better as far-reaching concepts are introduced that give way to a myriad of possibilities for future stories. The supernatural villains introduced are as terrifying as you could find in a horror story of any genre but the story is kept grounded in that it's a character-centric tale primarily involving Animal Man's family, automatically raising the stakes.
Travel Foreman's art, as simple as it may look at first, hides the intricacies in disturbing detail. No one does the grotesque better than Foreman, almost to the point where you cringe at what he's put on the page. He's the perfect artist to chronicle Animal Man's nightmarish story against a twisted, ancient evil.
Although it's not what you would expect and may seem that it only gets over due to shock or gore value, this is not the case. This is the best book to come out of DC's 52 and the one most worth reading.