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Isaac Hill
Isaac Hill

Animal Man

Buddy Baker is the Animal Man, the chosen protector of The Red, the force which connects all animal life. He is both a family man and a super-hero, often struggling to keep balance between the two.

Animal Man

In his late teens, Buddy Baker was a happy hell-raising punk rocker. One fall afternoon he went hunting in the Adirondack Mountains... and when he returned home, he had changed. Whatever it was, something in the woods had connected him to what is variously referred to as the Red, the Lifeweb, or the Morphogenetic Field - the force that binds together every living animal on Earth. Encountering some escaped animals from a nearby zoo, Buddy discovered that in the presence of an animal, he was able to absorb its special abilities. He was now the Man With Animal Powers.

Buddy returned to his family life, although the thought of superheroics was still nagging in his head. He wanted to make a difference, but had to support his family as well. Convinced that there was still a place for Animal Man in this world, Buddy resumed his full-time superhero career, battling villains such as the new Mirror Master and a delirious B'wana Beast. He also assisted in foiling the invasion of Earth by the Alien Alliance. Still not satisfied, Buddy made the decision to become a protector of animal life on Earth. He sabotaged foxhunting in England, dolphin slaughter on the Faroe Islands, and animal experiments all over the USA. He worked with Vixen to overthrow the government of M'Changa, and with the Freedom Beast to oppose the apartheid powers of South Africa. About this time, he learned from a scientist named James Highwater that his powers were greater than he initially had believed, due to his previously unknown contact with the morphogenetic field.

...And then it wasn't anymore. After a fireman had accidentally been killed in a fire started by his animal activist group, a shocked Buddy began to reconsider the path he had chosen. Though still a convinced vegetarian, environmentalist and animal rights activist, he asked himself if superheroics and illegal sabotage activities were the right ways to go. Refusing to become a role model, he quit the Justice League and the activist group, attempting to hang up his super-hero costume for good.

Once again a movie stuntman, Buddy continued as a part-time superhero, but his life was to get weirder still. His powers continued to malfunction; birds died when he was flying, he absorbed animal behavior and appearance unexpectedly, and animals around him acted strange. After his powers accidentally had killed every animal on the San Diego Zoo, Buddy and his family moved to Ellen's mother's farm in Pownal, Vermont. Later, it was revealed that the reason for this "animal weirdness" was the coming of a hostile Animal Antagon, a.k.a. the Shining Man. During this course of events, Buddy encountered a Native American shaman named "Stone That Cracked Open the Earth Like an Egg", who revealed that Buddy was one of a group of chosen people called the Animal Masters, destined to be the guardians of nature. Together with fellow Animal Masters Vixen and Tristess, Animal Man was able to defeat the Shining Man, who had already corrupted, possessed, and killed B'wana Beast, still another Animal Master. He also learned that his daughter Maxine was an Animal Master as well, developing powers similar to his own.

Settling down at the farm in Vermont, Buddy's next mission was to fetch back his son Cliff, who had been kidnapped by Ellen's insane uncle Dudley. While looking for his son, Buddy was run over by Dudley's car and actually died. His life-force survived, however, and after many months living in the bodies of various animals, he was reborn as a hybrid animal and saved Cliff. Later, he was able to re-create his original body.

More and more, Buddy felt the animal instincts in him taking over. Overwhelmed by the power of the Red, Buddy and Annie made love to each other. The strengthened connection to the Red made Buddy step over the line, and once again adopt the appearance of a hybrid animal. Flying in rage to Washington D.C. , he plagued the city with all kinds of animals, threatening humanity to change their ways or go under. At the end, the authorities captured him, but he was released soon after, partly due to a lot of compassion from many Americans, who believed this "Animal Man" had a point.

Then, Annie came up with an idea; Buddy wanted to change the ways of humanity, they all wanted to make a difference, and they already had many followers. Why not start a cult, or a religion, with Buddy as an "enraged prophet" and Maxine as the savior - the Life Power Church of Maxine? Though they met a lot of resistance from the authorities, the Church immediately grew in popularity, especially among young people. Ellen could not cope with all this, especially not after Buddy revealed that he had had kind of an "affair" with Annie. Alienated by their community, and the forces she did not understand, she finally broke up with Buddy - at least temporarily. Buddy, Maxine, Cliff, Annie, Lucy, and their followers traveled across the state, picking up countless new "disciples" and rebelling animals in a wild caravan on Route 66. Dubbed "the Red Plague" by the media, they finally settled down as a Church in Montana.

Animal Man was innovative in its advocacy and for its use of themes including social consciousness (with a focus on animal rights), metaphysics, deconstruction of the superhero genre and comic book form, postmodernism, eccentric plot twists, explorations of cosmic spirituality and mysticism, the determination of apparent free will by a higher power, and manipulation of reality including quantum physics, unified field theory, time travel and metafictional technique. The series is well-known for its frequently psychedelic and "off-the-wall" content.[1]

The series championed vegetarianism and animal rights, causes Morrison supported. In one issue, Buddy helps a band of self-confessed eco-terrorists save a pod of dolphins. Enraged at a fisherman's brutality, Buddy drops him into the ocean, intending for him to drown. The man is saved by a dolphin.

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity, which included merging the Vertigo universe into DC's. In this new timeline, Animal Man is re-established for DC by the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire and artists Travel Foreman and Dan Green.[2][3] The series follows Buddy and his family as his daughter Maxine begins to display powers of necromancy-based animal control.[4] Buddy is then forced to go on a journey to discover the source of this power and his own. He finds it in a life force known as the "Red", the animal counterpart to the "Green" from Swamp Thing. Much like the Green, there have been multiple creatures chosen to represent the Red over the years; a few became evil and became part of what is known as the "Rot".[5] This led into a crossover between Swamp Thing and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. titled "Rotworld".

Bernhard "Buddy" Baker is Animal Man, the Avatar of The Red, and protector of all animal life on Earth - including humans. In his everyday life, he was an actor and animal rights activist, loving husband, and father of two. As both super-hero and family-man, Buddy was often forced to try to balance the two aspects of his life.

In the five years since getting his powers, Buddy spent his time raising his children, fighting for animal rights, and taking the occasional acting gig - the most significant of which was the lead role in an independent film called "Tights", about a washed up super-hero.[2]

Buddy, Maxine, and Ignatius - whom Maxine renamed Socks - found that their house in San Diego had been attacked by the third Hunter in their absence, and learned that Ellen and Cliff tried to escape to Sacramento, where Ellen's mother Mary kept a farm. Once there, Buddy abandoned Maxine with her grandmother to find Ellen and Cliff, who were still under attack. After getting them to safety, he was again overpowered and required Maxine's help. She sent the animals of the forest to help him, but in consuming the Hunter, they became infected by the Rot, and in that way, the Rot began to spread throughout the world. An alliance with the Swamp Thing would be their only hope.[6] So, the Bakers, Mary, and Socks packed up into an RV and headed cross-country to find the Avatar of The Green.[7]

On their cross-country road-trip, the family stopped for some food and to charge Cliff's phone. After using his fame to impress some girls on Cliff's behalf, Buddy fell asleep in the RV and had a terrible nightmare of a future of only rot. Waking, he found the vehicle surrounded by rot-infected animals.[8] Maxine ran out to face them, and was ripped to pieces, to Buddy's horror, and he killed all of the creatures in a rage, only for Maxine to emerge unharmed from the bushes, having used her power to survive. Relieved, Buddy went into a nearby town to help fight off the Rot there, only to be killed himself, leaving Maxine without a protector.[9]

Buddy emerged back a year earlier, next to the abandoned family RV. He used his animal abilities to track his daughter, and found her preparing to give herself over to the remaining two of the Hunters Three and William Arcane. When she saw him alive, she escaped their grasp and used Sock's instructions to transform the Hunters back into their former selves, through the Red. Though all seemed well, William Arcane managed to stab Cliff in the chest, killing him, but making him the hero he never could be.[21]

Anguished by her son's death, and feeling justified in always having disliked the danger Buddy's super-heroism brought to her family, Ellen decided she could no longer see him, and took Maxine in her own care, leaving Buddy to deal with his grief alone. He visited the Totems, then, demanding that they take the burden of the Red away from his family, but they responded angrily, instead only severing his connection to the Red, and banishing him from its kingdom.[22] Despite grieving the death of his son, the loss of his power, and his estrangement from his wife and daughter, Buddy received good news from his agent Roger, that he'd been nominated in the Academy Awards' Best Actor category for his leading role in the indie film Tights.[23] Naturally, he was unable to enjoy his success. Rather than take Roger's advice to get back to work on acting, Buddy got back to work playing super-hero in the animal rights area, looking into a series of pet abductions. Unfortunately, this plan was hampered somewhat by his growing celebrity. He tracked one of the missing pets to a warehouse where he discovered that all of the animals had been killed; victims of horrible, inhumane experiments. Worse, the one responsible for these experiments had grafted the animals' bodyparts onto his own body.[24] 041b061a72


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