With so much going on lately and the neurotic level of details that I use in my writing. Animal Man Pt2 is still in development.
To fill this intermission, I present you with the amazing covers that Animal Man Pt2 with include!!
See you soon!
Hello there again. Getting back into the swing of things here. I usually have a very strict comic analysis format. It has a lot to do with how I read through the panels and my intense desire to share the comic with you in the same fashion that I absorb its panels.
I like to stop and focus on the art, the shifts in color, the finesse of the letters, the way they work seamlessly with the story to convey their perfect intentions. To pull your mind around a racetrack of stimuli, to deliver something that the art world and the written world could never accomplish by themselves. The ultimate team up of art and personal stories of triumph, growth, defeat, and things larger than ourselves comic books serves as a gateway to our courage, the unforgiving ways we feel about humanity, and the things outside of our daily concerns.
For these reasons, it has been a very difficult and different experience writing these next few articles. See that intense desire expanded to share not just a single book with you, but an entire adventure. It has been a process for me to try and pull my attentions further than I am used to. I hope it pays off.
So without further ado, let us venture forth, my dear friends.
ANIMAL MAN 1988-1990
I couldn’t tell you exactly what first attracted me to the Animal Man comics. At the time I was picking up tons of story arcs and a lot of obscure comics I had missed in my youth. I grabbed them up and have never looked at comics the same way.
……I honestly think I have something for the orange and blue contrasting color combination.
Animal Man wins the nonchalant hero award repeatedly while having a much much deeper undertone. I mean his name is Buddy, for goodness sake.
Movie stuntman, family man, Superhero – all these titles apply to Buddy.
Animal Man was one of those heroes with a good concept and a mostly forgotten execution. The idea of a superhero who can have any ability of any animal is not unheard of. The idea that he absorbs it from the life energy of earth is both super weird but really awesome.
Like so many other forgotten or overlooked heroes, Animal Man was resurrected in the late 80’s pushing into the 90’s and represented the shifts in perspectives from one decade to the next perfectly.
Bright colors and dark line work are the rules for most of the first few issues of Animal Man, looking much like early to mid 90’s American animation.
We begin with Buddy having an afternoon with his family in the suburbs. His family seems to be rather normal. A general discussion of the future between himself and his wife Ellen commences. Only it’s about his career…and how he’d like to get back in the superhero game. With JLA making headlines, etc., he wants to use his powers to provide for his family and find a place for himself in the process.
This is the beginning of what seems to be a nice, if odd, homebody of a superhero story. The next 26 issues that follow both amaze and push the idea of what I thought you were allowed to do with comics. The schizophrenic nature of the comic actually helps me focus on what I think is more important in the overarching story. To lead the reader without holding hands. To push your eyes to follow the paths that you love and to rediscover new points as you gloss back over.
Reading Animal Man truly is an adventure that is unique. Every page goes quickly. Then your mind demands you repeat it. Until the block colors bleed over and the lettering stacks against the panel boxes. Until Buddy’s humanity makes you smile.
Back to what is at hand.
A beast hears the cries of the forgotten. Moving with haste through a concrete wilderness, we see his despair. We feel the isolation in the dark shadows and cool themed colors. All the major action done with gray chromatics, the rest of the city in the bright block colors we’ve grown accustom to.
As this drama unfolds, we jump back towards Buddy who is now serious enough to get a manager for his superhero career. I mean, nothing says a great future ahead like getting a friend and neighbor to be your manager. And then have a canned non-descriptive beer to celebrate.
Animal man appears on terrible television like we would all probably do if we were superheroes. After the usual “THAT’S SKIN TIGHT” costume joke from what appears to be Richard Dawson in comic book form we move on to a heart to heart with husband and wife. I love to see this dynamic in a comic book, where the more normal of the two has no real problems helping the super with their ambitions but still maintains their own existence and personality. I also love that weird model-style cocked hip panel of Animal Man. Because Orange and Blue is fabulous.
And with that he is off to investigate the odd happenings in town. Buddy is called in by S.T.A.R. Labs.
After being told he was the D-List in superhero choices, his powers are then questioned, and I can’t help but imagine that Dr. Myers says, “How fascinating” with all the enthusiasm of a older generation carnival worker. We find out good ol’ S.T.A.R. Labs is having research issues with primates. Animal Man finds lots of damage the likes of which he can’t imagine a normal person could have caused.
Much more distressing than that is what they left behind.
Just look at the horrifying state of it: faces of confusion, despair, fear, pain, and anguish dominate the being and this entire page. The melding of vibrant colors and textures create a frenzy of mercurial reasoning. No beginning or end to be found. The fear alone trapped within this panel is enough to give me nightmares. The movement suggested by the being before us is almost nauseating.
What has Buddy gotten himself into?
Thanks for bearing with me on this first foray into our Animal Man adventure. I cannot wait to continue it with you. Expect plenty more parts and more often than usual!
Until next time…and Don’t Forget…Evolve or Die.
Sorry for the delay everyone. I was at my best friend’s college graduation and sadly the internet was scarce at best.
Onto the show!!!
Starman #0 Sins of the Father Pt 1 1994
There is something to be said of feeling like an outsider. The desperate longing on others, but always just beyond their notice. The feeling like you are the disappointment, or that there is no longer a reason to try and fit in. We have all felt this one at one time or another. We’ve all felt just like Jack Knight.
Nothing says 90’s cool like a bad leather jacket
Starman revels in beautiful colors. A gradient of blues on blues on blues. A grungy blur of shadows. The bright red sigil bursts behind Jack. Breaking up the blues in the most forceful way possible. The only illumination being the sigil and the cosmic rod. Providing illumination in the dark gloomy world we see. Starman’s covers are forever inspiring to me. I see something new into them each time I pursue. The shadow line of a brick, something hidden in the light of the cosmic rod, a extra dark shadow that breaks through the others. The covers are memorizing.
The artwork continues to be lovely and different with just a tad of despair. The grimey bits remind us of a old neighborhood’s side streets. Slight disrepair, but lovely in spite of all the damage, age, and wear.
It’s like a neon Japanese Empire
Enter our backdrop, Opal City. Much like the Opal itself, the city is colorful in spades. Bright colors and lines for the sky a glorious beautiful sunset to behold. The layering of the cityscape giving an amazing texture of crowding and growth like a true urban jungle would.
He’s like caped Captain Morgan on that statue
David Knight surveys the overgrowth of man known as Opal City. It is his paradise to protect. He revels in his role. The panels here are stunning with heavy vector style propaganda shadows
. We see him as a man however he demands we see him as more. As Starman a savior, a unique entity in the universe. Master of his fate, protector of ours.
The first panel show his connection to man the shadow of himself in the statue. The last panels’ golden background meant to show this saviour as an illuminating figure. The dynamic movement and shadow of his boot preparing for flight makes us gasp as though the wind from the rooftop is in our face as well.
And like a flash of lightning……
and the crash of thunder afterwards.
The savior we have just seen is struck down. The entity known to protect and serve us as citizens is taken in the smallest amount of time we can fathom.
The hard vertical lines and bright block colors of opal city only serve to accentuate the speed at which this disaster takes place. The statue of man behind him reminding us once more that he is just as mortal as you or I.
David Knight, Starman, is no more.
The sins of the father carry unto us much like heraldry on a shield in the 12th century. The opening splash page is of David Knight lifeless form looking tarnished and desecrated. Nothing at all like the illuminated savior from the former page. Death is universal and sadly for Starman his light has gone out.
Let us take a moment and travel back to happier times.
A family moment. Ted Knight, David, and Jack all at home and like most families arguing about siblings taking each others things. This is first glimpse we see of Jack Knight and really….Well….He looks like a higher cheek boned Robert Smith of the cure. A little grungey, a little unwholesome, and obviously the shut out one. Ted sides with David pretty easily over the harmless acts of Jack buying old things off of David.
Best way to end an argument Ever.
After Ted sides with David in the argument, Jack does what most younger siblings tend to do…which is say how everything you love is stupid. He immediately has a put foot in mouth moment. But not taking the mantle of Starman from Ted and obviously being mostly disinterested in the idea has caused tension. Like not only not wanting to take on the family farm but not caring if it’s turned into an amusement park either. Jack has found his own identity through his love of antiques. He has no problem not being the superhero.
He is a goth kid on Easter Sunday. Why go to church anyway? They don’t want him.
There’s some really alienating artwork here. With Ted and David illuminated in opposite negative to positive colors to Jack also the facial portraits of Ted and David panel to panel showing the same hard shadow lines the same small chin and angular cheeks. Father to Song always. Jack’s portraits are always from the side or 3/4 view here. Never directly like his family. He is a glimpse of humanity in a family who is a savior to it.
After this fallout we follow Jack into Opal city. His Mundane day of picking up dry cleaning and talking to his roommate with the gorgeous backdrop of the bright almost deco style design of the city is beautiful. The old styling the continual pattern of disrepair but full of charm seeps through. Like a hometown that kept growing, but when you return for a visit you cannot stand anything that was not there before.
At the end of his day he finds an antique shop to visit.
The only labeled antique is from Penn State…What?
Jack is a nostalgic soul. I can relate. The smell of old books, the weathered but strong feeling of a handmade blanket, that pictures of long lost families where now the frame is worth more than the memory; the melancholy of a thrift store knows no bounds. Jack finds peace amongst the relics. They are kind of expatriate to the world around them. From it, but never in sync with it. Similar to how he fits in at home.
The color shift from the first to the second page is brought to you with no extra charge by hallucinogens.
The reality of what happened before returns. David Knight is dead. Ted calls Jack and tells him the details that he knows suspicious all the while. The portraits change to show Ted and Jack in a similar light due to the grief they currently share.
The color saturation disperses in the last panel as Jack is left alone. The grief washes out all the light in his world.
Meanwhile, Ted’s colors go to focus the negative to positive ratio switch like earlier when they were aside from Jack. The focusing neon makes for a tense feeling. We watch the color recede and flood his viewpoint from tense to sad to regret. The feeling of dread that happens after they all mix.
Must have been a Pinto.
The colors from the former page swirl magnificently with danger on the wind. The explosion pulls all the neurosis from the form page into one large shadowy act. We can see that the explosion wasn’t enough and Ted is also shot. The onlooker confirming the action. Her face covered shadows.
We are then drawn back into Jack’s orbit. He’s lamenting on his emotions involving his brother. Wondering if that fact that he doesn’t feel terrible about his brother’s passing makes him horrible.
A strange man enters his shop dressed like a perfect middle ground between a matrix and a blade villain. He asks Jack about various antiques he might sell, but when Jack begins to tell him where to find these things the man cuts him off repeatedly.
Something is wrong. The man begins to ask about weapons. Then declares he killed Starman earlier that evening.
Why does his gun sometimes shoot fire? PKOW!
The color of violence floods the page. When the shooting stops via Jack hitting the man with a body blow the red fades and the panel turns blue. It is neutralized for now.
Jack manages to run but not before taking a hit to the leg. He is searching desperately for the package his father left years ago containing a belt and a Star Rod. Knowing the one thing he has denied is currently the only salvation he can find.
Like a slap to the face his attacker makes it to the belt first. The gods of fate do smile somewhat for Jack Knight however. The attacker throws a grenade after Jack disappears into the fire. Little did he know Jack was looking for his salvation in this baptism of fire.
AVENGE THE SNOW DOMES
Jack finds the Star rod. He greieves for the relics of the past. The ones whom shared in his loneliness. Their existence always a comfort letting him know it’s not just people who are ostracized. These valuable relics showing him that he himself is valuable just maybe not to everyone. He refuses to die not knowing why all these events are happening.
Why now? Why to him. Can’t die not knowing.
Cut to the bad guys like it’s a Thundercats episode.
We see the onlooker of Ted’s car explosion and the Blade villian wannabe. Looking like a goth high school reunion. A currently unseen instructor asking if their assigned tasks are complete. They confirm that the sons of Ted Knight have perished, and Ted Knight himself is in the hospital. He shows himself excited at the prospect of Ted Knight’s life being living torment rather than just death.
This is what it looks like when the Crypt Keeper has a drink.
Cut to our dearest disabled Jack Knight. He shambles through the street trying to make sense of the days events in his mind. His body battered. His mental strength strained. He pulls himself onward.
Wondering what happened. Where should he go? He’s not Starman. What can he do?
I really really want a Munsters View Master now.
To his father’s side, the forgotten son forges on.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this journey with me.
Starman meant a lot to me when I was young. I used to go and take the issues from my brother’s room when he was out. Rereading them and letting the colors soak in. I had never seen anything like them. I still don’t feel like I have. Jack’s desire to get along with his family, but knowing he’s fundamentally different from them struck a chord with me as well. I just wanted him to find something to believe in. Something we could both believe in. Find our place no matter where it might be.
Well, I figured if I could believe in Jack maybe he could believe in me too. To find that moral compass, that sanctuary to be yourself, that salvation…the understanding that I could save myself.
So for now, Goodnight Mr. Knight.
Until we meet again,