Monday, August 18, 2008

Top Ten Favorite Comic Stories #6: Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina

Man searches for the meaning of life, finds out he is the product of a hack.I consider Grant Morrison one of the "Mad Geniuses" of comics.  I think his work helps stretch the boundaries of the medium.  On the other hand, occasionally he stretches the medium to its breaking point and when he does his writing can border on incoherence.  Still, I am willing to grant the occasional grand failure among grand successes.

Animal Man is an example of Morrison nearing the edge, but not going over.  Morrison was brought on to revitalize Animal Man, a truly minor hero in DC's pantheon.  It worked, but it is doubtful DC was expecting what they got.

Morrison presented Buddy Baker as an Everyman hero.  He is the type of guy who started wearing a jacket over his costume because he needed somewhere to hold his keys.  He has a wife and kids who actually act like you would expect them to act.  He is a super hero primarily because he has super powers and figures he should try making a living that way.  After all, if you had super powers, would you go work at Walmart?

If all Morrison did was establish this niche for Buddy in the DC Universe, Animal Man would be a decent comic.  Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina brings it to the next level.

In Deus Ex Machina, Buddy Baker slowly comes to awareness that he is a comic book character.  I am not normally a fan of breaking the fourth wall.  However, in this case Morrison uses it as more than a simple gimmick.  It is an integral part of Buddy Baker's search for meaning.  Unlike most of us, Buddy gets to meet his maker.  He gets to ask him all of the questions we would in that situation, often getting less than satisfying answers.  Whether this makes him lucky is a matter of debate.

Tune in tomorrow for #5 on my Top Ten Favorite Comic Stories.