The theme for this week is comics that are much better than I expected them to be.
Animal Man Vol. 1 The Hunt
by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman, and Steve Pugh; DC, $14.99
Prior to the relaunch of the New 52 at DC, Animal Man is one of the old titles that I had the fondest memories of. I enjoyed Grant Morrison’s work with the character, but the book came to the forefront for me when Jamie Delano and Steve Pugh were making it. Delano covered the two angles that make this comic unique – the ramifications of Buddy Baker’s powers and how the affect his family – just about perfectly, and crafted a memorable and endearing series. Pugh killed it, but then, he always does. He’s one of the best artists in comics.
So, hearing that Jeff Lemire was taking on the character, I was hopeful, but skeptical, as I was of the entire New 52 experiment. When I started reading the series, I was pleased. Lemire has remembered to make the Baker family the most important part of the story, as that is what sets Buddy apart from all other heroes, even those with families. He also got deeply into the weirdness of the Red and its opposite force, the Rot, in a story that let artist Travel Foreman work to his strengths (ie., distorted bodies).
The art has been, for me at least, the weak link in this series, at least until Steve Pugh showed up to start contributing pages to each issue. This series is a good companion to Swamp Thing, but can be read (so far at least) on its own. Lemire has proven himself time and time again to be one of the most talented people in the DC stable, and this book should be worth checking out for that reason alone.
Hey DC – maybe it’s time to reprint the Delano/Pugh issues!
Planet of the Apes Vol. 2
by Darryl Gregory and Carlos Magno; Boom, $14.99
I’ve written before about how much love I have for the original Planet of the Apes movies (although only the first two are any good, and even that is debatable), but even I was surprised by how incredibly good the Boom monthly Planet of the Apes series is.
This series is set a long time before the movies, when some humans still spoke (newborns are generally mute), and apes and humans lived in uneasy proximity to one another, but open warfare breaks out in this volume. There are a lot of characters and factions, but Darryl Gregory makes it easy to keep track of things.
As good as the writing in this series, which can be read as a commentary on apartheid states like Israel, the major draw should be the art. Carlos Magno is incredible on this comic. His art is lush and detailed, and also very true to the appearance of the apes in the original movies. I’d written the guy off after DC’s Countdown fiasco, but here he is really very good.
So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?