In this “before New 52” special #0 edition of ‘Animal Man’, we’re given a look at the origins of both Animal Man and his daughter Maxine… and a few hints at what’s to come in the “Rotworld” storyline.

The story opens in the Congo where a group of poachers is facing off with the previous Avatar of The Red who, oddly enough, also calls himself Animal Man. The poachers have made off with a baby gorilla and Animal Man is racing to stop them. When he finally catches up to them on their boat, he discovers that things are not as they seem.

With their previous Avatar destroyed, the totems of The Red must find a way to hold The Rot at bay while they wait for the next Avatar to be born. In the interim, they decide to give powers to an adult. To keep things close, they choose a man who is in the same bloodline as the coming Avatar. They choose Buddy Baker.

The next sequence retells Animal Man’s origins and they match up pretty well with the pre-New 52 version. Only now we know that it was actually the totems, and not aliens, that gave Buddy Baker his miraculous powers.

The rest of the issue shows Buddy’s first attempts at using his powers and speeds through the turn around of his film career and the celebrity status that those powers bestowed. In the end, Buddy’s wife Ellen informs him that she is pregnant. What buddy doesn’t know yet is how much that new child is going to flip his world upside down.

This issue is a solid story and I liked the retelling of Animal Man’s classic origin to incorporate the totems and Anton Arcane. But unlike some of the other prequel books this week (‘Detective Comics’, I’m looking at you.), this issue doesn’t really wow me with that retelling.

Steve Pugh’s artwork is, as always, very beautiful and fitting for this title but that doesn’t elevate this special #0 issue beyond being just “good”. If you’re an ‘Animal Man’ completist, you might want to check this one out. If not, you could probably skip it and jump right into next issue as the “Rotworld” story really picks up.

Final Score:


Story by Jeff Lemire
Art by Steve Pugh
Cover by Steve Pugh & Lovern Kindzierski