Animal Man. Art by Brian Bolland.
|First appearance||Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965)|
|Created by||Dave Wood
|Alter ego||Bernhard "Buddy" Baker|
|Team affiliations||Justice League
|Abilities||Can gain the powers of any animal that exists or has existed on a planet via access to "The Red"|
Animal Man (Bernhard "Buddy" Baker) is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Comics Universe. As a result of being in proximity to an exploding extraterrestrial spaceship, Buddy Baker acquires the ability to temporarily “borrow” the abilities of animals (such as a bird's flight or the proportionate strength of an ant). Using these powers, Baker fights crime as the costumed superhero Animal Man.
Created by writer Dave Wood and artist Carmine Infantino, Buddy Baker first appeared in Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965) and adopted the name Animal Man in issue #190. Animal Man was a minor character for his first twenty years, never gaining the popularity of other DC heroes such as Batman or Superman. He made only five, non-consecutive appearances in Strange Adventures (four of which were reprinted in Adventure Comics), followed by two appearances in Wonder Woman, two in Action Comics, and two in DC Comics Presents, appearing in consecutive issues of each. These eleven stories constitute the entirety of his pre-Crisis appearances. However, he became one of several DC properties, such as Shade, the Changing Man and Sandman, to be revived and revamped in the late 1980s for a more mature comics audience. As seen in Strange Adventures #195, he was billed as a "full time hero", an aspect that would be the most changed by the revamp.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Enemies
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Animal Man debuted in Strange Adventures #180 in 1965, in a story written by Dave Wood and drawn by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. Animal Man was given his costume and name in Strange Adventures #190. He continued as a semi-regular feature in the book, making occasional cover appearances, until the introduction of Deadman, who became the main feature with issue #205. His last appearance was in #201.
His main appearances in the 1980s were as a member of the "Forgotten Heroes", a team of minor DC heroes. It was in that capacity that he appeared in the company-wide crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Grant Morrison revival
In the late 1980s, following the slate-cleaning Crisis on Infinite Earths event, DC began employing innovative writers, mostly young and mostly British, to revamp some of their old characters. In the period that saw Alan Moore reinvent Swamp Thing, and Neil Gaiman do the same with The Sandman, Animal Man was reimagined by Scottish writer Grant Morrison. Morrison wrote the first 26 issues of the Animal Man comic book, published between 1988 and 1990, with art by Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood; Brian Bolland provided the covers.
Although the series was initially conceived as a four-issue limited series, it was upgraded into an on-going series following strong sales. Consequently, Morrison developed several long-running plots, introducing mysteries, some of which were not explained until a year or two later. The title featured the protagonist both in and — increasingly — out of costume. Morrison made the title character an everyman figure living in a universe populated by superheroes, aliens, and fantastic technology. Buddy's wife Ellen, his son Cliff (9 years old at the beginning of the series), and his daughter Maxine (5 years old) featured prominently in most storylines, and his relationship with them, as husband, father, and provider, was an ongoing theme.
The series championed vegetarianism and animal rights, causes Morrison himself supported. In one issue, Buddy helps a band of self-described eco-terrorists save a pod of dolphins. Enraged at a fisherman's brutality, Buddy drops him into the ocean, intending for him to drown. Ironically, the man is saved by a dolphin.
Buddy fought several menaces, such as an ancient, murderous spirit that was hunting him; brutal, murderous alien Thanagarian warriors; and even the easily-defeated red robots of an elderly villain who was tired of life. The series made deep, sometimes esoteric, references to the entire DC canon, including B'wana Beast, Mirror Master, and Arkham Asylum.
Soon after the launch of his series, Animal Man briefly became a member of Justice League Europe, appearing in several early issues of their series.
Following Morrison's run, Peter Milligan wrote a 6-issue story featuring several surreal villains and heroes, exploring questions about identity and quantum physics and utilizing the textual cut-up technique popularized by William Burroughs. Tom Veitch and Steve Dillon then took over for 18 issues in which Buddy returns to his work as a movie stuntman and explores mystical totemic aspects of his powers. Jamie Delano wrote 29 issues with Steve Pugh as artist (with occasional issues with by other artists, like Will Simpson), giving the series a more horror-influenced feel with a "suggested for mature readers" label on the cover, beginning with issue #51.
After Jamie Delano's first six issues, wherein, among other things, he killed off the central character of Buddy Baker, created the "Red" and resurrected Buddy as an "animal avatar" (analogous to the "Green" of Swamp Thing), the series became one of the charter titles of DC's new mature readers Vertigo imprint with #57, and its ties to the DC Universe became more tenuous. Vertigo was establishing itself as a distinct "mini-universe" with its own continuity, only occasionally interacting with the continuity of the regular DC Universe. The title evolved into a more horror-themed book, with Buddy eventually becoming a non-human animal god. The super-hero elements of the book were largely removed — since Buddy was reborn as a kind of animal elemental, and legally-deceased, he discarded his costume, stopped associating with other heroes, and generally abandoned his crime-fighting role. He co-founded the Life Power Church of Maxine to further an environmentalist message, drifting along U.S. Route 66 to settle in Montana. Delano's final issue was #79, culminating in Buddy dying several more times.
Between issues #66 and #67, Delano also penned the Animal Man Annual #1, focusing on Buddy's daughter Maxine. It was the third part of Vertigo's attempt to create a crossover event titled "The Children's Crusade". This event ran across the Annuals of the five then-Vertigo titles - Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, The Books of Magic, and Doom Patrol - book-ended by two Children's Crusade issues co-written by Neil Gaiman, and starring his Dead Boy Detectives.
Back in the DCU
After the cancellation of his own series, Animal Man made cameos in several other titles, returning to his standard costumed form.
He has been utilized in most of the recent DC company-wide crossovers fighting alongside other less-mainstream heroes, including Infinite Crisis and 52, the latter of which co-written by Grant Morrison, as well as Justice League of America issue #25.
The Last Days of Animal Man
In 2009 Gerry Conway and artist Chris Batista produced The Last Days of Animal Man, a six-issue limited series telling the tale of Animal Man in the future. The series portrays a middle-aged Animal Man in the year 2024 on his final adventure.
The relaunched Animal Man has been met with a great deal of critical acclaim. MTV Geek said, "I don’t want to oversell this, but if there is a better book put out by DC during the month of September, I will eat the other 51 comics. It’s just that good."  A.V. Club writer Oliver Sava wrote that the "first issue of Animal Man combines family drama, superhero action, and macabre horror into a cohesive story that is unique, yet still true to the history of Buddy Baker."  Read/RANT said, "Along with Action Comics, Animal Man is among the best the line has to offer" and gave the book an A+ overall, calling it the Must Read Book of the Week. Greg McElhatton at Comic Book Resources was less complimentary, giving the book 3.5 stars (out of 5) and saying, "The art might be uneven in Animal Man #1, but the script is dynamite.".
The storyline of the relaunched version essentially builds on previous Animal Man continuity with Baker as a happily married family man and super hero. Baker is forced to take his family on the run after he discovers that his daughter Maxine is the avatar of The Red (the force which sustains all animal life), and that agents of The Rot (the elemental force of decay that are also called The Black) are seeking to kill her.
Fictional character biography
Buddy Baker gained animal powers when he encountered a spaceship which blew up, infusing him with radiation. He used his powers to fight crime and ward off alien attackers.
Baker's post-Crisis origin was slightly altered, but retained the essence of the original. While hunting as a teenager, he encounters a crashed spaceship which apparently endows him with his abilities (the slight discrepancies between the two stories were addressed as Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis origins, and were acknowledged in-story, with the "original" Buddy Baker appearing, and not wishing to be written out of existence). After an apparently unsuccessful stint as a superhero, followed by a hiatus where he utilized his powers to work as a film stuntman, Baker decides to restart and make a career out of it after being inspired by the headline-making Justice League International; this is where his self-titled series begins.
He is married to his high school sweetheart, Ellen, a storyboard artist and, later, an illustrator for children's books. They have two children, Cliff and Maxine, who are a pre-teen and toddler, respectively, when the series starts. They live in a suburban area outside of San Diego.
Through the series, Animal Man becomes a man of great compassion toward all creatures, an ardent animal rights activist, an environmentalist, and a vegetarian. Later, he finds his link to the M-field has been passed on to his daughter, Maxine, who is also connected to the animal kingdom. Although he wears a mask, he goes to no great lengths to conceal his true identity. A jacket was added to Animal Man's costume (so he could have pockets and a place to put his keys as well as notes from his wife). However, this jacket was denim and not a leather jacket: Buddy specifically discusses that he will not wear leather, out of moral considerations.
An early aspect of the character was his desire for fame, and is manifested by his wish to be in the Justice League. He is initially driven by a desire for the publicity from interviews and public appearances more than any altruistic impulse. Buddy joins the newly formed Justice League Europe and bonds with Dmitri of the Rocket Reds over the shared experiences of being fathers. However, he soon resigns due to tragic events taking place later in his series.
After a brief period of reconditioning and exploration of his limits, Baker's first work is a job from S.T.A.R. Labs investigating a break-in at an animal testing facility. He traces it to the hero B'wana Beast, who he is able to befriend and aid. The conditions he witnesses at the testing facilities compel him to become vegetarian, a sudden decision that briefly puts him at odds with his family. Baker also becomes a staunch animal rights activist and goes on several missions with environmental themes.
During his further adventures, he experiences glitches with his powers. He also begins experiencing evidences of his existence within a comic book, although he does not immediately understand them for what they are. He is targeted for murder by a mysterious organization upset with his environmental work, and must face the new Mirror Master. Baker is also pursued by Dr. James Highwater, a physicist with no memory of any prior existence, and seemingly no purpose other than to contact Baker. A parallel story involves a pair of yellow aliens (described as "agents of some unspecified 'higher power'" that engineered the spaceship wreck which granted his powers) who are aware of the events of the Crisis and monitor Baker's actions. They are aware of "a second Crisis" coming which they believe only Animal Man can revert. They reconcile the two variations of Animal Man's origin through an unexplained "surgery" which also extends his abilities. Elsewhere, in Arkham Asylum, the Psycho-Pirate, aware of "continuity" and his fictional environment, opens a gateway into the real world and other comic book realities and begins bringing several characters no longer in continuity into existence.
Baker is demoralized, however, when firefighters are injured in a laboratory blaze started by activists he was working with. He is approached by Highwater just as he decides to give up his costumed identity. While away on a vision quest with Highwater, in which he learns the true nature of his powers and briefly sees the comic's reader, Baker's family is brutally murdered by an assassin sent by the corporate heads seeking to stop his environmental work. With the help of Mirror Master, who had turned down the hit, Baker tracks down the businessmen and assassin and kills them. While trying to undo his family's deaths with a time machine, Baker accidentally becomes warped through time and meets the Phantom Stranger, Jason Blood, and the Immortal Man in the 1960s, who help him learn to accept his grief. Baker is then contacted by the aliens and taken to Arkham, where he stops the Psycho-Pirate and prevents damage to the continuity. Baker is transported to limbo and encounters several comic book characters not being used in stories. Ultimately, Baker encounters his own writer (Grant Morrison himself), and the two share a conversation on the relationship between the creator and the fictional characters whose lives they write. After this encounter, Baker is sent back home and his family are restored back to life; it is left ambiguous as to whether or not Baker remembers the full nature of these events.
Next, after falling into a coma, he finds himself in a strange alternate reality, which he correctly deduces is a divergent phase of existence and is then able to return home.
Having since left the Justice League, Baker resumes his stuntwork career. He also finds himself frequently displaying uncontrolled animalistic behavior. He is assaulted by a neighbor, Travis Cody, a burnout with a PhD in electronic engineering from MIT. Cody has deduced that Baker's powers have become skewed, and that unfocused usage of his abilities kills the animals. After reaching an understanding, the two work together to measure and enhance Animal Man's powers. They are themselves targeted by a group of shamans, one of whom was present at Animal Man's origin, and who are aware of the yellow aliens and the writer. During this time, Baker's daughter Maxine begins demonstrating powers similar to his own, and is able to communicate with the head shaman, who is attempting to bring Baker to him.
S.T.A.R. Labs again contacts Baker, offering a position as their spokesman on environmentalism, but he declines. After an accident in which Baker kills the entire population of the San Diego Zoo, his wife takes their daughter to live with her mother in Vermont to avoid the media attention. Baker descends into a depression and his son runs away, eventually ending up with an uncle, a lecherous predator. Baker goes to Vermont as well, where he finally meets the shaman. Meanwhile, Cody has been hired by S.T.A.R. Labs for his expertise, and while there he uncovers a conspiracy involving one of the shamans but is mentally trapped in cyberspace.
Baker continued to split his time between his family, his career as Animal Man, and regular stunt work for films. He occasionally lent his talents to various super groups, including the JLA, Forgotten Heroes, and played a prominent role in the Swamp Things's task force, Totems.
This marked the reappearance of Buddy in costume, and heralded his return to the mainstream DC Universe (although his Vertigo appearances were clearly meant to take place inside the DCU as well). He subsequently appeared alongside Aquaman, Hawkman, and Resurrection Man. In JLA #27 (March 1999) Buddy officially joins the League to battle a rampaging Amazo in the Florida Everglades; however, since Amazo was able to mimic the powers of any and all members of the League, they were only able to defeat Amazo by disbanding the League. Buddy does not stay for the reorganization. During a JLA crossover event, Animal Man's expertise in the morphogenetic field assists the League.
After encountering danger signs from the animal world, Animal Man is recruited by Donna Troy as part of a team journeying to New Cronos to stop the Infinite Crisis, mirroring his role in Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which he journeyed into space with the Forgotten Heroes on Brainiac's ship. During this adventure, he formed a mentoring friendship with the new Firestorm, Jason Rusch.
Due to a malfunction of the zeta beam which Adam Strange deploys to return the team to Earth, Animal Man, along with most of the heroes, go missing after Infinite Crisis. Eventually some of the heroes are recovered but Adam Strange, Buddy, and Starfire are still missing. They become core cast members of DC's weekly series 52.
In 52, Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange are stranded on an alien planet. The trio escape, but are pursued by bounty hunters. They are joined by Lobo. In issue #36, during a battle with Lady Styx and her horde, Animal Man is killed by a necrotoxin, which causes its victims to rise again in the service of Lady Styx. Animal Man makes Starfire promise not to let him come back as a zombie. He gestures to the reader, saying, "Look, they're cheering us on. I told you the universe likes me." At the moment of his death, Ellen, still on Earth, senses his death and begins to cry.
In issue #37, moments after Starfire and Adam Strange leave Animal Man in space, Buddy comes back to life. The aliens who originally granted his powers stand next to him, saying: "And so it begins." After plucking him out of the timestream and repairing his body, they leave him in outer space. Animal Man must reach out to another life form in order to survive, and claims the abilities of a group of Sun-Eaters, including their homing sense. He observes his wife from a wormhole in space provided by the aliens, only to discover that Ellen is seeing another man (though it is later revealed she only reluctantly went out with one of Buddy's friends).
Buddy returns to Earth, describing the marvels of space to his delighted family. Ellen throws a party to celebrate his return, but some followers of Lady Styx appear, bent upon killing the family. They are eliminated by Starfire, who has only partially recovered from wounds suffered in space. She delivers Buddy's jacket and faints from weakness and surprise when she sees him alive, leaving the family to care for her.
Countdown to Adventure
Animal Man joined Adam Strange and Starfire in the series titled Countdown to Adventure written by Adam Beechen. The first issue reveals that his family has been caring for Starfire, who still has not regained her powers. Buddy convinces Ellen to let Starfire stay and act as a nanny to his two children. When a strange form of madness infects the people of San Diego, he and Starfire team up to stop it. Buddy's closeness to Starfire has made Ellen disgruntled, and thinks that Buddy is in love with her. Buddy's powers have been in a state of flux, not working at all at times, and manifesting strange abilities at others, such as creating a whirlwind, or firing energy beams. Once their extraterrestrial trip is done, Starfire leaves the Baker home, telling them that they will always be in her heart.
In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #25, Buddy is drawn into Vixen's animal totem and captured by the trickster god Anansi, who claims to be the one who gave Buddy his powers, having disguised himself as the aliens (whilst reminding Vixen and Buddy that he constantly lies). Anansi also mentions that Buddy's new powers were a side effect of his manipulation of Earth's morphogenic field.
Cry for Justice
Buddy appears in the second half of writer James Robinson's event miniseries Justice League: Cry for Justice. While he and his family are entertaining Starfire and Donna Troy, Buddy is approached by Mikaal Tomas and Congorilla, who ask him for help in tracking down the supervillain Prometheus. He accompanies them to the JLA Watchtower to seek help from the Justice League, and is present when Red Arrow is mauled by an unknown attacker. While searching for Red Arrow's assailant, Buddy is assaulted and brutally injured by Freddy Freeman, who ultimately turns out to be Prometheus in disguise.
During the Blackest Night event, Nekron, lord of the dead, reveals that all those who have returned from the dead, such as Buddy, were allowed to do so, in order to become his "inside agents". A black power ring attaches itself to Buddy, canceling out his resurrection and transforming him into a Black Lantern. In the final battle, Animal Man is freed by the power of white light.
Following the events of Blackest Night, Buddy helps Starman and Congorilla during their search for the Fountain of Youth, using his abilities to help translate for Rex the Wonder Dog. Buddy is later revealed to be a member of the JLA's reserve team, and joins the League during their battle against Eclipso. Shortly after joining the battle, Buddy and his teammates are possessed by Eclipso. The reserve JLA members are all freed after Eclipso is defeated.
The New 52
In The New 52, Buddy Baker had spent less time being a hero and returned to his role as an environmental activist. He also took up acting when where he appeared in an Indie drama about a washed-up superhero named "Tights" with his passion being superheroics. Buddy later started to suffer strange nightmares about three monstrous figures known as the Hunters' Three and his own daughter Maxine soon started to manifest powers of her own where she could seemingly resurrect dead animals. When Buddy and his wife Ellen discover this, Maxine tells them that they have been calling her from a certain place and points to the red tattoo on Buddy's chest referring to The Red. When their neighbor Mr. Duffy starts to notice the revived pets of the Baker Family, Maxine retaliates by turning Mr. Duffy's hands into bird talons until Ellen tells Maxine to change them back followed by Mr. Duffy running off. Buddy and Maxine then travel throughout California until they come to a tree that sucks them to The Red. Meanwhile, three hippopotamuses have given birth to the Hunters' Three, assume the form of three zookeepers, and prepare to hunt Buddy and Maxine. While in The Red, Buddy and Maxine find themselves face-to-face with a group of massive animal men called the Totems. The Hunters' Three then split up where two of them head into The Red while the third one heads off to capture Ellen. The Totems welcome Buddy as Maxine identifies them as the old Animal Men since they've been coming to her in her dreams. As Maxine is an avatar of The Red like the other Totems were, Buddy wasn't. Thus, the Totems give Buddy the identity of Animal Man so that she can train Maxine for the upcoming battle between The Red and The Black (AKA The Rot). Buddy tells them that Maxine is 4 years old and isn't old enough to fight in any of the wars. The Totems state that she has no other choice. Both The Red and The Green must be ready to fight The Black. Suddenly, the Totems are alerted to the presence of Two of the Hunters' Three. While Buddy faces off against two of the Hunters, the third one escapes and possesses Detective Krenshaw where he meets up with Ellen at the diner. When Animal Man is being outmatched by the two Hunters, Maxine ends up coming to the rescue where she uses her abilities to fend them off. When Ellen arrives at the house of her mother Mary Frazier, the third Hunter struggles to maintain his form. After Maxine heals Animal Man, the Totems tell them that the Hunters' Three were formerly Avatars of the Red until their job was done and ended up led astray by The Black. Since the other Avatars of the Red are dead, the Hunters' Three are now planning to target Maxine and Animal Man must protect her. While the ones that are associated with The Green can help Animal Man, a Cat Totem named Ignatius (under the alias of Socks the Cat) goes with Animal Man and Maxine despite the cost of being unable to return to the Parliament of the Limbs. When the Hunters' Three drag Cliff and Detective Krenshaw into the woods, they demand that Cliff calls his father to them. Ellen hears Detective Krenshaw's screams and heads out into the woods with a rifle. Animal Man, Maxine, and Ignatius return home to find their house having been trashed. Ellen finds Cliff cowering behind the rock as the Hunters' Three devour Detective Krenshaw's body. While Ellen fights to keep the Hunters Three from devouring Cliff, Animal Man, Maxine, and Ignatius fly towards Mary's farm where they learn from Mary that Ellen and Cliff are in danger. Animal Man finds Ellen and Cliff and starts to fight the Hunters' Three. When one of the Hunters fills Animal Man with visions of when they finally take over Maxine and make her an Avatar of The Black, Maxine uses her abilities to revive the dead animals and send them to help her father where they start to bite the Hunter. The Hunter states that by allowing Maxine to use her powers, she has begun to spread the influence of The Black. Animal Man then runs with the revived animals after him. Maxine and Ignatius then realize that they were tricked by The Black. Animal Man then grabs his family and they start to ride off in his RV. While Animal Man tells Maxine that what had happened isn't her fault, Ignatius states that there is no going back now as only Swamp Thing can save them now. Still fleeing from the Hunters' Three, Animal Man and the Baker Family are informed by Ignatius that they still need to find Swamp Thing in order to get help in protecting Maxine from the Hunters' Three. While in Utah, Animal Man is advised by Ignatius that they need to go to Louisiana to find Alec Holland. While stopping in a nearby town, Cliff looks for a charger for his cell phone while Maxine tells Ellen and Mary about the Hunters' Three and their association with The Black. Later that night, Animal Man has a dream where John Constantine shows him that Maxine will gain control over his powers and fights the Hunters' Three with Swamp Thing should Animal Man fail to protect her. When Buddy wakes up, he and his family discover that The Black-infected animals are about to strike. Maxine rushes out to fight a pack of Black-infected wolves as Buddy joins the fight. Although Maxine was defeated, she disappeared into The Red and formed a new body after a nearby fox had lost its life. After Ellen finds her and wraps a blanket around her, Maxine then sends her old body into The Red to decompose rapidly. Ignatius is pleased with the evolution of Maxine's powers. Animal Man then heads out to save the nearby town from the Black-infected animals alone. During battle, Animal Man discovers that the Black-infected animals are the thralls of Sethe, the monstrous creature that Animal Man witnessed in a prophetic dream. Animal Man puts up a fight against the Black-infected animals and is overwhelmed. Ignatius advises that the Baker family start to head East if they are going to find Swamp Thing. While his conscious is in The Red, Animal Man meets a being called the Shepherd who helps those who have lost their way in The Red. The Hunter in Animal Man's body arrives in Los Animas where he uses the nearby roadkill to enter The rot and capture Maxine this way. The Shepherd is convinced by Animal Man to guide him to the Totems where they must traverse through the Sea of Blood and the Desert of Flesh. Though parts of The rot has been sighted in their path. Meanwhile, the Blank family is approached by John Constantine. At the Sea of Blood, Animal Man and the Shepherd work to get passed the Black-formed island that appeared there where they encounter the Black's creatures called Rotlings. Luckily, Animal Man and the Shepherd are saved by an army of creatures of the Red. In La Junta, Colorado, the Blank Family encounter John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, and Zatanna of the Justice League Dark who tell them that Buddy has been lost and they are in danger. The army of The Red learn that Animal Man is the father of the Avatar of Red and agree to take him to the Parliament of Limbs. When Animal Man sees different Totems, the Shepherd states that the Totems of the Red change depending on the Avatar of Red's imagination meaning that Maxine is getting stronger. During the discussion with the Blank family, John Constantine states that he knows a "green guy" that can help them. Ellen assumes that they are talking about Swamp Thing. When Ellen grudgingly drives off, John Constantine tells Zatanna that he wasn't referring to Swamp Thing. Back in The Red, the Totems are not pleased that Animal Man let his body get taken over by one of the Hunters' Three. Animal Man begs for them to give him another chance since they don't have time to find another champion to protect Maxine. After being convinced by Animal Man to give him another chance, the Totems call forth the Royal Tailors (a pair of yellow alien-like creatures) who inspect Buddy to find a way to make him more durable. While looking for Cliff, Ellen is told by Ignatius that Cliff is getting taken over by The Black. Ignatius grows to large size and prepares to hunt the Hunter. Upon transitioning himself through different animals to recreate his body, Animal Man then sets out to save his son. When Ignatius finds Cliff, the Hunter in Animal Man's body arrives. Animal Man manages to catch up to Ignatius and defeats the Hunter. When Animal Man, Cliff, and Ignatius return to the Blank family, Cliff feels woozy and prophetically warns Animal Man that the Avatar of The Black is Anton Arcane.
The Blank Family continues their trip to find Swamp Thing so that they can unite against The Black. Arriving in the swamp, Ignatius uses his senses to help them locate Swamp Thing. When Animal Man manages to find Swamp Thing, they agree that they must enter The Black. When they arrive in The Black, Animal Man and Swamp Thing soon find themselves one year into the future where The Rot has infected most of the Earth. Animal Man is brought to The Red Kingdom which used to be San Diego where Animal Man was informed that The Red Kingdom and The Green Kingdom were the only things left immune to The Rot following Animal Man and Swamp Thing getting trapped in The Black. John Constantine states that Animal Man and Swamp Thing must unite in order to stop Rotworld. Just then, The Red Kingdom is attacked by an army led by Felix Faust that consists of the Un-Men, the Rotlings, and the rotted heroes and villains. After fighting an army, Felix Faust tells them that The Black has Maxine prisoner in Arcane's castle. The Protectors of The Red Kingdom accompany Animal Man in his mission to rescue Maxine leaving the Red Kingdom in the protection of the Shepherd and the Totems. During their travel, the group is attacked by Gorilla Grodd's army of Gorillas. It is revealed that Central City was taken over by Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, and Brain. When the gorillas overcome the heroes, they are saved by the Patchwork Army led by Frankenstein. The gorillas are defeated with only a few left alive to tell the tale. Frankenstein tells the heroes that he had built the Patchwork Army to be immune to The Black and had heard that Anton Arcane had imprisoned someone beneath Metropolis. When they arrive in Metropolis where it was taken over by The Green, they find that the prisoner in question is the Green Lantern Medphyll. Animal Man and his party learn from Medphyll that the Guardians of the Universe selected him to Earth's Green Lantern after Earth had fallen to The Black. Medphyll revealed that while helping to combat The Black, he was captured by Blackbriar Thorn. When Blackbriar Thorn finds Medphyll free, Animal Man assumes the powers of a termite to get Blackbriar Thorn out of his wooden body. After recharging his ring from atop the ruins of the Daily Planet, Medphyll helps the Patchwork Army fight off the forces of The Black. Animal Man and his allies arrive outside of Anton Arcade's castle which is guarded by rotted versions of the Justice League. After using the combined speeds of ants and termites, Buddy catches up to Rotted Flash and kills him. Medphyll then senses that The Green has arrived as it shows the forces of Swamp Thing attacking the Rotlings and the Un-Men. When the forces of The Red catch up, Animal Man goes to Swamp Thing's side as Anton unleashes corrupted versions of Maxine and Abigail Arcane. When Animal Man is separated from Swamp Thing, Maxine breaks the hold that the remaining Hunters' Three has on her. After Maxine uses her abilities to purge the Black from the remaining Hunters' Three returning them to their previous forms, William Arcane tries to kill Animal Man and Cliff sacrifices his life to kill William Arcane. In the aftermath of the fight against the Rot, Animal Man's family holds a funeral for Cliff. When Animal Man begs for the Totems to find another Animal Man, the Totems are against this since Cliff is a part of The Red, Maxine is still the Avatar of The Red, and Animal Man must remain their champion. The Totems then throw Animal Man out of The Red until they call for him again.
Powers and abilities
Buddy can mimic any abilities of any animal as a result of his encounter with a crashed alien spacecraft. He does this by either focusing on a specific animal near him, or, as he learned later, by drawing power from the animal kingdom in general (this enables him to even mimic animals that are extinct). The nature of these powers has been described in various ways, including the superficial "alien radiation" explanation of his early appearances, the reconstruction of his body by aliens with "morphogenetic grafts" at the cellular level, and currently, mystical access to a "morphogenetic field" created by all living creatures, also known as "the Red". He does not grow wings to fly as a bird (instead he flies in classic "Superman style"), nor does he form gills to breathe underwater when mimicking a fish, but he has occasionally been known to mimic the actual appearances of animals, such as adopting the claws of a wolverine temporarily, or his metamorphosis toward the end of Delano's run on his series.
Among the "animal powers" Buddy has been known to use are:
- The strength of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- The flight of a bird.
- The swimming ability of a fish.
- The speed of an ant.
- The reflexes of a fly.
- The eloquence of a parrot.
- The wall-crawling of a spider.
- The sonic blast of a pistol shrimp.
- The sense of smell of a moth.
- The stench of a skunk.
- The color changing of a chameleon.
- The agility of a snake.
- The playfulness of a kitten.
- The electricity of an electric eel and electric ray.
- A worm's ability to re-grow lost body parts.
- The righteous anger of a mother bear.
- The bark of a large dog.
- The reproduction abilities of protozoa.
- The durability of a cockroach.
- The ability to "fire lightning from his face" from an unidentified alien creature.
- The beauty of a Monarch Butterfly.
- The smell of a hippopotamus.
- The napping ability of a cat.
The level of Buddy's abilities is proportional to the size of the animal they are drawn from. Hence, drawing the jumping ability from a flea would allow him to cover great distances. However, taking the abilities of a larger animal does not result in diminished power for him. In some appearances, he can also talk to animals and enter their minds.
In 52, Buddy experiences an upgrade that allows him to connect to the Universe's morphogenetic field, providing him unlimited access to all animals in the universe regardless of origin. At first, Animal Man knew nothing about the alien creatures whose abilities he took, but later has ample knowledge.
Outside of the enemies that he had fought with the Justice League, Animal Man has his own enemies:
- Angel Mob - A group of kids with superhuman powers.
- Lucinda Angel - Can read minds and cast hallucinations.
- Mark Angel - An obese kid with telekinesis.
- Matthew Angel - Psychic powers.
- Anton Arcane - Avatar of The Rot
- Blackbriar Thorn - Half-plant wizard.
- Bloodrage - A supervillain with the ability to remotely drain blood from nearby people and convert it into super-strength, invulnerability, and other physical enhancements. Partner of Prismatik.
- Brother Blood - Vampire cult leader that wants to steal Buddy's power with the Red.
- The Church of Blood - Followers of Brother Blood.
- Felix Faust - Sorceror
- Gorilla Boss - Mod criminal whose brain was transplanted into a gorilla.
- Gorilla Grodd - A gorilla with psychic powers.
- Hunters Three - Former scientist whose bodies were possessed by The Rot
- Lennox - A hitman who was hired to kill Animal Man's family.
- Living Nightmare - An unnamed creature that was exposed to the same radiation emitted by an alien spaceship that gave Buddy Blank his powers. Years later, he was revealed to be one of the Totems.
- Mirror Master II - Evan McCulloh, a man with light based powers.
- Monsieur Mallah - A French gorilla with superpowers.
- The Brain - Partner and lover of Mallah.
- Moonlight Jackson - A rogue Native American who worked for Buck Samson.
- Mr. Brumley - One of the corporate bosses who hired Lennox to kill Animal Man's family.
- Mr. Elson - One of the corporate bosses who hired Lennox to kill Animal Man's family.
- Mr. Shaver - One of the corporate bosses who hired Lennox to kill Animal Man's family.
- Mr. Hogue - Eco-terrorist that became a genetic chimera. Mr. Hogue and his followers were originally radical animal rights activists, now dubbed collectively as the Splinterfolk. Agents of Brother Blood.
- Ongur Nielsen - A man who slaughters dolphins.
- Prismatik - Daughter of Evan McCulloch, the second Mirror Master. Can bend the light to create constructs, beams and portals. Partner of BloodRage.
- Psycho-Pirate II - A villain with the ability to manipulate and drain people's emotions.
- Shark - Formerly a normal shark, he became a half-human hybrid after being exposed to radiation. Has fought Green Lantern, Superman, Animal Man and Aquaman.
- Slaughterhouse - Animal Man's opposite. He loves to kill and torture animals.
- The Front Page - A villain whose body is made of metallic newspaper. Partner/Lover of The Notional Man.
- The Notional Man - A tulpa villain with super senses and who is armed with a giant pair of surgical tongs. Partner/Lover of The Front Page.
- The Splinterfolk - Extremist animal-rights activists turned grotesque part-human part-animal hybrids.
- The Writer - A reality warping demigod based on Grant Morrison. Killed Buddy's Family in order to make his comic "modern and serious."
- Time Commander - A time traveler conqueror.
JLA: The Nail
In the Titans Tomorrow alternate future from Teen Titans vol. 3 #17-19, Buddy Baker died in a crisis along with most of the other main DCU superheroes. His replacement as Animal Man in that future was Garfield Logan (aka Beast Boy).
The Last Days of Animal Man
In the May 2009 series "The Last Days of Animal Man," Buddy Baker finds he is losing his super powers and is forced to explore what it means to not have them and how much being a superhero affected his relationship with his family. He uses the last of his powers to stop two murderers then retires from the hero business. The series was written by veteran Bronze Age of Comic Books writer Gerry Conway.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Animal Man is an inmate at the Doom's prison after he was framed for the murder of his wife and kids. During the prison break, Animal Man is killed by Heat Wave.
In other media
- Animal Man appears in an episode of Mad. He joins the other superheroes in a musical number that asks Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends."
- Animal Man appears in his own DC Nation Shorts voiced by "Weird Al" Yankovic. He is shown as a hero who completely ignores people in danger and saves animals instead.
- Animal Man appears in DC Universe Online.
- Animal Man appears in Justice League Unlimited #29, helping Superman and B'wana Beast against Queen Bee.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Animal Man". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 16. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5
- Animal Man R.I.P.? Gerry Conway Talks, Comic Book Resources, February 27, 2009
- The End? Gerry Conway on The Last Days of Animal Man, Newsarama, March 13, 2009
- DC Comics Announces "Justice League Dark", "Swamp Thing", "Animal Man" and More, Comics Alliance, June 7, 2011
- Rogers, Vaneta (June 8, 2011). "Lemire Aims for Less Meta, More Family in DCnU ANIMAL MAN". Newsarama. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- "MTV Geek – New 52 Review: 'Animal Man' #1 Is The Pick Of The Litter". Geek News. September 8, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- Phipps, Keith (September 9, 201). "The New DC 52, Week 2 (Action Comics, Detective Comics, Swamp Thing and more) | Books | Crosstalk". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Review: Animal Man #1 « read/RANT!". Readrant. September 8, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "NewU Reviews: Week One of the DC Relaunch « read/RANT!". Readrant. September 8, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Review: Animal Man #1". Comic Book Resources. September 7, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Top 300 Comics Actual-October 2011". ICv2. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Top 300 Comics Actual-September 2011". ICv2. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- Justice League International (vol. 1) #24 (February 1989)
- Justice League Europe #12 (March 1990)
- WPage / Crisis-Relevant Text: Animal Man
- Tom Peyer's one-shot Vertigo Totems
- Resurrection Man #24-27 (May-August 1999)
- JLA #40 (April 2000)
- Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 (November 2009)
- Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (January 2010)
- Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (March 2010)
- Blackest Night #5 (November 2009)
- Blackest Night #8 (March 2010)
- Starman/Congorilla one-shot (March 2011)
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #56 (June 2011)
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #57 (July 2011)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #1 (November 2011)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #2 (December 2011)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #3 (January 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #4 (February 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #5 (March 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #6 (April 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #7 (May 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #8 (June 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #9 (July 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #10 (August 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #11 (September 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #12 (October 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #13 (December 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #14 (January 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #15 (February 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #16 (March 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #17 (April 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #18 (May 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #19 (June 2013)
- Justice League Dark #23
- Animal Man (vol. 1) #48-50 (June-August 1992)
- JLA: The Nail #3 (October 1998)
- Teen Titans (vol. 3) #17-19 (December 2004-February 2005)
- Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2 (July 2011)
- Justice League Unlimited #29 (March 2007)
- Animal Man at the Comic Book DB
- The Continuity Pages: Animal Man
- Animal Man profile page
- Councils of Perfection: Genre and Generosity in Animal Man