My first brush with Animal Man was issue 1 of the Grant Morrison run. It was a reprint in Zones (I think). The first thing that struck me was the costume – I do like superheroes that wear jackets (see also Zenith, Mister Terrific and Gambit). The 26 issues of Morrisons run are possibly the perfect example of how to take a minor character and make them matter. The last issue in particular is one of my favourites of all time (Animal man meets Grant Morrison and discovers that he is just a character that Morrison writes).
I didn’t buy any of the subsequent issues as I didn’t think that Peter Milligan etc could do anything with the characters that would interest me.
How wrong I was (more on that later dear reader).
The next time I saw Buddy Baker (Animal man) was in the weekly series 52. The sections with him in it are mostly great and I suspect Morrison wrote them although I could be wrong.
Then it was Dcs New 52 version and although the story is much more horror orientated, I am not feeling it. Gone is the jacket and orange and blue jumpsuit. In its place is a black / dark blue and white number.
Still I will persist because it is interesting, albeit not what I would have thought the best way to showcase the character.
Anyway, I picked up the entire Morrison run in 3 trade paperbacks and read it every couple of years just to remind myself of why I fell in love with the character. Recently DC reprinted the next 10 issues that were written after Morrisons run finished. This past weekend was clinic card weekend in my local Comic Shop (Asylum books and Games in Aberdeen)
So I picked up book 4 of the Animal man series from the 90’s and even 3 issues in, I cannot believe how good the whole take on Buddy is. I have mostly loved Milligans work in British comics (never read Shade the Changing man before you ask) but his American work has always felt a little reigned in. This doesn’t. It feels like a natural progression from the weirdness of Morrisons 26 issues and yet different enough to not feel like they were just copying what had come before.
I would recommend that you at least borrow someones copy of it or the original trades/issues and open your mind for 26 issues of general weirdness and awesomeness
Then try Book Four
I think you will enjoy it as much as I am doing