You know, this comic got me from the first page. I mean, hell – it started out with WORDS. Like, not speech bubbles.


[Comic Virgins is a recurring series where Ben and Mike make Amanda, a non-comic reader, read comics of their choosing. Hijinx ensue.]

If you haven’t read my lovely bio at the end of these articles, then you aren’t aware that I’m a journalist in my day job. I fancy myself a small-city Lois Lane. And I appreciate that comics sometimes include references to my career. When Animal Man Vol. 1 started out with a Q-and-A, I was hooked.

So hooked, in fact, that I read all six comics and then, honest-to-goodness, yelled out loud, “WHAAAT? Is that it?!”

I definitely haven’t reacted to a comic this strongly yet, so I’m setting out with this installment of CV to determine just what set it apart.

Well, you can’t miss the extreme art, which is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Now, my exposure is limited, but these are trippy, and I like it.

I swear, I didn't slip you acid.

I swear, I didn’t slip you acid.

This isn’t a traditional comic – not looking like this. But, as I’ve discovered a few times, good comics are not always traditional comics. In fact, many of the ones that I’ve liked from this venture have been the ones that go beyond the preconceived traditional comic into something better. Maybe it’s unfair of me to be so prejudiced against the “traditional” comic, but I’ve spent my whole life with the notion of what comics are – while never being attracted to them. I had my whole life for comics to try to seduce me, and it never worked. It’s taken something that puts those traditional comics on their ears to keep my attention.

The visuals of this comic are strong. And it’s not just the drawings, but also the color and the lettering that rounds out its amazing visual presence. We all know I’m a sucker for letters, and this comic  brings the A-game with different fonts, styles and sizes for all sorts of characters, all dependent on the personality of who’s speaking. And the colors influenced my mood as much as the plot. Some panels are very simple, which make the detailed, trippy ones stand out even more. Sometimes it’s black-and-white, with just one color to intensify whatever emotion they’re trying to portray. The creative team (Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman, Dan Green) was truly phenomenal. (WAIT: this is an addition. I was going through and linking people and just realized that Jeff Lemire wrote Sweet Tooth, which I freakin’ loved. So that explains a lot.)

Pretty sure I'm gonna have a nightmare tonight.

Pretty sure I’m gonna have a nightmare tonight.

But let’s get to that plot. That plotGoodness, that plot. What was that I said about turning traditional expectations on their ears? Well, when you make the superhero vulnerable, and then, in fact, not the chief hero – nor even the person meant to save the world, you’ve done screwed the expectations. Animal Man, who has a pretty cool power of using traits from all over the animal kingdom, is fallible. He’s away from his powers, trying to live the normal life. (The interview at the beginning of the comic is about his new movie.) But, in comic fashion, there’s a POW/BLAM/GASP moment and our hero realizes his world is bigger than he ever thought possible. He’s just a pawn, a loyal soldier. He’s not the savior. The hero is his {Spoilers – just in case you haven’t read it GO READ IT NOW} daughter and that’s awesome. His daughter knows how to use her powers better than he ever has.  He’s not top dog, and I like it.

But isn’t that strange? To have a comic where the hero – literally the comic’s namesake – is usurped by his offspring? Caveat: I have only read Vol. 1, which ends on a cliffhanger. I don’t have Vol. 2 yet, but I’m definitely continuing this comic. And all things point to Animal Man’s daughter saving the world — not him. Isn’t that strange, and wonderful, and all-together refreshing?

Now, I know this comic is part of something called New 52. I’ve got no clue what that is, so I’m going to Google it in a second, but let me just say: I’m so happy that I don’t have to know what “New 52” is to enjoy this volume. That’s also refreshing, seeing as how many problems I’ve had with past comics as part of larger series. [insert Googling here]

[Insert even more intense Googling, plus texted questions to Ben]

WAIT A MINUTE. DC did WHAT?!? So.. how wide-sweeping were the storyline changes? It seems like it was fairly well-received, looking at some of the sales numbers, but fans could NOT have been into this. What was it like when it was announced? Did people lose their minds? It seems both a cheap move and GENIUS at the same time – I don’t know how to feel about it. But MAN – I guess I see now why this was so easy to read, why characters were well-introduced, and why I didn’t get lost. All of the readers, even the old timers, were starting on the same footing as me.

I guess we can end here, because I’m hoping for some feedback on this one: What did you think of the New 52 reboot? It’s been about 2.5 years now, so you’ve gotten into these new story lines. Was it a good move? Let me know in the comics, or on Twitter @MissAmandaGray!

About The Author

Hey there! I'm Amanda, and I'm the managing editor for DetroyTheCyborg! I come to the job with a background in journalism, English, American culture and all-around interest in what makes up our site.

For a living, I'm a government reporter for a newspaper my hometown. Seeing as that can be a bit monotonous, I welcome the opportunity to write occasional book (and other) reviews for DTC. If you see a book coming up I should review, let me know!

My interests are many and varied. I love table top games, bad movies (and good films!), music of all genres and the occasional graphic novel. Ben P. is trying his hardest to increase my interest in comic books - stay tuned for the outcome of THAT adventure. When it comes to books, I've yet to find a genre that I won't read. I have a particular affinity to Lord of the Rings and non-fiction first-person explorations - see Mary Roach's Stiff or Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals for examples.

My other abilities? I find that I make a mean batch of cinnamon rolls, and I can (most of the time) keep the crayon inside the lines.

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