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Animal Man
Animal Man. Art by Brian Bolland.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics/Vertigo
First appearance Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965)
Created by Dave Wood
Carmine Infantino
In-story information
Alter ego Bernhard "Buddy" Baker
Team affiliations Justice League
Forgotten Heroes
Black Lantern Corps
Notable aliases A-Man
Abilities Can gain the powers of any animal that exists or has existed on a planet via access to "The Red".

Animal Man (Bernhard "Buddy" Baker) is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Comics Universe. As a result of being in proximity to an exploding extraterrestrial spaceship, Buddy Baker acquires the ability to temporarily “borrow” the abilities of animals (such as a bird's flight or the proportionate strength of an ant). Using these powers, Baker fights crime as the costumed superhero Animal Man.[1]

Created by writer Dave Wood and artist Carmine Infantino, Buddy Baker first appeared in Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965) and adopted the name Animal Man in issue #190. Animal Man was a minor character for his first twenty years, never gaining the popularity of other DC heroes such as Batman or Superman. However, he became one of several DC properties, such as Shade, the Changing Man and Sandman, to be revived and revamped in the late 1980s for a more mature comics audience. As seen in the comic below, he was billed as a "full time hero", an aspect that would be the most changed by the revamp.


Publication history


Animal Man's original costume. Art by Jack Sparling.

Animal Man debuted in Strange Adventures #180 in 1965, in a story written by Dave Wood and drawn by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. Animal Man was given his costume and name in Strange Adventures #190. He continued as a semi-regular feature in the book, making occasional cover appearances, until the introduction of Deadman, who became the main feature with issue #205.

His subsequent appearances were sporadic and sparse. In 1980, Animal Man made a notable guest appearance in Wonder Woman #267-268.

His main appearances in the 1980s were as a member of the "Forgotten Heroes", a team of minor DC heroes. It was in that capacity that he appeared in the company-wide crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Grant Morrison revival

In the late 1980s, following the slate-cleaning Crisis on Infinite Earths event, DC began employing innovative writers, mostly young and mostly British, to revamp some of their old characters. In the period that saw Alan Moore reinvent Swamp Thing, and Neil Gaiman do the same with The Sandman, Animal Man was re-imagined by Scottish writer Grant Morrison. Morrison wrote the first 26 issues of the Animal Man comic book, published between 1988 and 1990, with art by Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood; Brian Bolland provided the covers.

Although the series was initially conceived as a four-issue limited series, it was upgraded into an on-going series following strong sales. Consequently, Morrison developed several long-running plots, introducing mysteries, some of which were not explained until a year or two later. The title featured the protagonist both in and — increasingly — out of costume. Morrison made the title character an everyman figure living in a universe populated by superheroes, aliens, and fantastic technology. Buddy's wife Ellen, his son Cliff (9 years old at the beginning of the series), and his daughter Maxine (5 years old) featured prominently in most storylines, and his relationship with them, as husband, father, and provider, was an ongoing theme.

The series championed vegetarianism and animal rights, causes Morrison himself 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. Ironically, the man is saved by a dolphin.

Buddy fought several menaces, such as ancient, murderous spirit that was hunting him; brutal, murderous alien Thanagarian warriors; and even the easily-defeated red robots of an elderly villain who was tired of life. The series made deep, sometimes esoteric, reference to the entire DC canon, including B'wana Beast, Mirror Master, and Arkham Asylum.

Soon after the launch of his series, Animal Man briefly became a member of the Justice League Europe, appearing in several early issues of their series.

Following Morrison's run, Peter Milligan wrote a 6-issue story featuring several surreal villains and heroes, exploring questions about identity and quantum physics and utilizing the textual cut-up technique popularized by William Burroughs. Tom Veitch and Steve Dillon then took over for 18 issues in which Buddy returns to his work as a movie stuntman and explores mystical totemic aspects of his powers. Jamie Delano wrote 29 issues with Steve Pugh as artist, giving the series a more horror-influenced feel with a "suggested for mature readers" label on the cover, beginning with issue #51.


After Jamie Delano's first six issues, wherein, among other things, he killed off the central character of Buddy Baker, created the "Red" and resurrected Buddy as an "animal avatar" (analogous to the "Green" of Swamp Thing), the series became one of the charter titles of DC's new mature readers Vertigo imprint with #57, and its ties to the DC Universe became more tenuous. Vertigo was establishing itself as a distinct "mini-universe" with its own continuity, only occasionally interacting with the continuity of the regular DC Universe. The title evolved into a more horror-themed book, with Buddy eventually becoming a non-human animal god. The super-hero elements of the book were largely removed — since Buddy was re-born as a kind of animal elemental, and legally-deceased, he discarded his costume, stopped associating with other heroes, and generally abandoned his crime-fighting role. He co-founded the Life Power Church of Maxine to further an environmentalist message, drifting along U.S. Route 66 to settle in Montana. Delano's final issue was #79, culminating in Buddy dying several more times.

Between issues #66 and #67, Delano also penned the Animal Man Annual #1, focusing on Buddy's daughter Maxine. It was the third part of Vertigo's attempt to create a crossover event titled "The Children's Crusade". This event ran across the Annuals of the five then-Vertigo titles - Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, The Books of Magic and Doom Patrol - book-ended by two Children's Crusade issues co-written by Neil Gaiman, and starring his Dead Boy Detectives.

A brief run by Jerry Prosser and Fred Harper featured a re-re-born Buddy as a white-haired shamanistic figure before the series was canceled after the 89th issue due to declining sales.

Back in the DCU

After the cancellation of his own series, Animal Man made cameos in several other titles, returning to his standard costumed form.

He has been utilized in most of the recent DC company-wide crossovers fighting alongside other less-mainstream heroes, including 52 and Infinite Crisis, both co-written by Grant Morrison, as well as Justice League of America issue #25.

The Last Days of Animal Man

Gerry Conway and artist Chris Batista made The Last Days of Animal Man, a six issue limited series telling the tale of Animal Man in the future.[2][3] The series portray a middle-aged Animal Man in the year 2024 on his final adventure.

Fictional character biography


Buddy Baker gained animal powers when he encountered a spaceship which blew up, infusing him with radiation. He used his powers to fight crime and ward off alien attackers.

He then joined the Forgotten Heroes group prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.


Baker's post-Crisis origin was slightly altered, but retained the essence of the original. While hunting as a teenager, he encounters a crashed spaceship which apparently endows him with his abilities. (The slight discrepancies between the two stories were addressed as Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis origins, and were acknowledged in-story, with the "original" Buddy Baker appearing, and not wishing to be written out of existence.) After an apparently unsuccessful stint as a superhero, followed by a hiatus where he utilized his powers to work as a film stuntman, Baker decides to restart and make a career out of it after being inspired by the headline-making Justice League International; this is where his self-titled series begins.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Ellen, a storyboard artist and, later, an illustrator for children's books. They have two children, Cliff and Maxine, who are a pre-teen and toddler, respectively, when the series starts. They live in a suburban area outside of San Diego.

Through the series, Animal Man becomes a man of great compassion toward all creatures, an ardent animal rights activist, an environmentalist, and a vegetarian. Later, he finds his link to the M-field has been passed on to his daughter, Maxine, who is also connected to the animal kingdom. Although he wears a mask, he goes to no great lengths to conceal his true identity. A jacket was added to Animal Man's costume (so he could have pockets and a place to put his keys). However, this jacket was not a leather jacket: Buddy specifically discusses that he won't wear leather, he considers this immoral.

An early aspect of the character was his desire for fame, and is manifested by his wish to be in the Justice League. He is initially driven by a desire for the publicity from interviews and public appearances more than any altruistic impulse. Buddy joins the newly-formed Justice League Europe and bonds with Dmitri of the Rocket Reds over the shared experiences of being fathers.[4] However, he soon resigns due to tragic events taking place later in his series.[5]

After a brief period of re-conditioning and exploration of his limits, Baker's first work is a job from S.T.A.R. Labs investigating a break-in in an animal testing facility. He traces it to the hero B'wana Beast, who he is able to befriend and aid. The conditions he witnesses at the testing facilities compel him to become vegetarian, a sudden decision that briefly puts him at odds with his family. Baker also becomes a staunch animal rights activist and goes on several missions with environmental themes.

During his further adventures, he experiences glitches with his powers. He also begins experiencing evidences of his existence within a comic book, although he does not immediately understand them for what they are. He is targeted for murder by a mysterious organization upset with his environmental work, and must face the new Mirror Master. Baker is also pursued by Dr. James Highwater, a physicist with no memory of any prior existence, and seemingly no purpose other than to contact Baker. A parallel story involves a pair of yellow aliens (described as "agents of some unspecified 'higher power'" that engineered the spaceship wreck which granted his powers) who are aware of the events of the Crisis and monitor Baker's actions. They are aware of "a second Crisis" coming which they believe only Animal Man can revert. They reconcile the two variations of Animal Man's origin through an unexplained "surgery" which also extends his abilities. Elsewhere, in Arkham Asylum, the Psycho Pirate, aware of "continuity" and his fictional environment, opens a gateway into the real world and other comic book realities and begins bringing several characters no longer in continuity into existence.[6]

Baker is demoralized, however, when firefighters are injured in a laboratory blaze started by activists he was working with. He is approached by Highwater just as he decides to give up his costumed identity. While away on a vision quest with Highwater, in which he learns the true nature of his powers and briefly sees the comic's reader, Baker's family is brutally murdered by an assassin sent by the corporate heads seeking to stop his environmental work. With the help of Mirror Master, who had turned down the hit, Baker tracks down the businessmen and assassin and kills them. While trying to undo his family's deaths with a time machine, Baker accidentally becomes warped through time and meets the Phantom Stranger, Jason Blood, and the Immortal Man in the 1960s, who help him learn to accept his grief. Baker is then contacted by the aliens and taken to Arkham, where he stops the Psycho Pirate and prevents damage to the continuity. Baker is transported to limbo and encounters several comic book characters not being used in stories. Ultimately, Baker encounters his own writer (Grant Morrison himself), and the two share a conversation on the relationship between the creator and the fictional characters whose lives they write. After this encounter, Baker is sent back home and his family is restored back to life; it is left ambiguous as to whether or not Baker remembers the full nature of these events.

Next, after falling into a coma, he finds himself in a strange alternate reality, which he correctly deduces is a divergent phase of existence and is then able to return home.

Having since left the Justice League, Baker resumes his stuntwork career. He also finds himself frequently displaying uncontrolled animalistic behavior. He is assaulted by a neighbor, Travis Cody, a burnout with a PhD in electronic engineering from MIT. Cody has deduced that Baker's powers have become skewed, and that unfocused usage of his abilities kills the animals. After reaching an understanding, the two work together to measure and enhance Animal Man's powers. They are themselves targeted by a group of shamans, one of whom was present at Animal Man's origin, and who are aware of the yellow aliens and the writer. During this time, Baker's daughter Maxine begins demonstrating powers similar to his own, and is able to communicate with the head shaman, who is attempting to bring Baker to him.

S.T.A.R. Labs again contacts Baker, offering a position as their spokesman on environmentalism, but he declines. After an accident in which Baker kills the entire population of the San Diego Zoo, his wife takes their daughter to live with her mother in Vermont to avoid the media attention. Baker descends into a depression and his son runs away, eventually ending up with an uncle, a lecherous predator. Baker goes to Vermont as well, where he finally meets the shaman. Meanwhile, Cody has been hired by S.T.A.R. Labs for his expertise, and while there he uncovers a conspiracy involving one of the shamans but is mentally trapped in cyberspace.

Baker continued to split his time between his family, his career as Animal Man, and regular stunt work for films. He occasionally lent his talents to various super groups, including the JLA, Forgotten Heroes, and played a prominent role in the Swamp Things's task force, Totems. [7]



This marked the reappearance of Buddy in costume, and heralded his return to the mainstream DC Universe (although his Vertigo appearances were clearly meant to take place inside the DCU as well). He subsequently appeared alongside Aquaman, Hawkman and Resurrection Man.[8] In JLA #27 (March 1999) Buddy officially joins the League to battle a rampaging Amazo in the Florida Everglades; however, since Amazo was able to mimic the powers of any and all members of the League, they were only able to defeat Amazo by disbanding the League. Buddy does not stay for the reorganization. During a JLA crossover event, the Martian Manhunter seeks out Animal Man's expertise in the morphogenetic field to assist the League.[9] During this encounter, Martian Manhunter was disturbed by his accidental glimpse of Buddy's understanding of the true nature of the DC Universe.

Animal Man also makes an appearance in the Identity Crisis limited series, helping to search for the murderer of Sue Dibny.

After encountering danger signs from the animal world, Animal Man is recruited by Donna Troy as part of a team journeying to New Cronos to stop the Infinite Crisis, mirroring his role in Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which he journeyed into space with the Forgotten Heroes on Brainiac's ship. During this adventure, he formed a mentoring friendship with the new Firestorm, Jason Rusch.

Due to a malfunction of the zeta beam which Adam Strange deploys to return the team to earth, Animal Man, along with most of the heroes, go missing after Infinite Crisis. Eventually some of the heroes are recovered but Adam Strange, Buddy and Starfire are still missing. They become core cast members of DC's weekly series 52.


In 52, Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange are stranded on an alien planet. The trio escape, but are pursued by bounty hunters. They are joined by Lobo. In issue #36, during a battle with Lady Styx and her horde, Animal Man is killed by a necrotoxin, which causes its victims to rise again in the service of Lady Styx. Animal Man makes Starfire promise not to let him come back as a zombie. He gestures to the reader, saying, "Look, they're cheering us on. I told you the universe likes me." At the moment of his death, Ellen, still on Earth, senses his death and begins to cry.

In issue #37, moments after Starfire and Adam Strange leave Animal Man in space, Buddy comes back to life. The aliens who originally granted his powers stand next to him, saying: "And so it begins." After plucking him out of the timestream and repairing his body, they leave him in outer space. Animal Man must reach out to another life form in order to survive, and claims the abilities of a group of Sun-Eaters, including their homing sense. He observes his wife from a wormhole in space provided by the aliens, only to discover that Ellen is seeing another man (though it is later revealed she only reluctantly went out with one of Buddy's friends).

Buddy returns to earth, describing the marvels of space to his delighted family. Ellen throws a party to celebrate his return, but some followers of Lady Styx appear, bent upon killing the family. They are eliminated by Starfire, who has only partially recovered from wounds suffered in space. She delivers Buddy's jacket and faints from weakness and surprise when she sees him alive, leaving the family to care for her.

Countdown to Adventure

Animal Man is to join Adam Strange and Starfire in the upcoming series titled Countdown to Adventure written by Adam Beechen. The first issue reveals that his family has been caring for Starfire, who still has not regained her powers. Buddy convinces Ellen to let Starfire stay and act as a nanny to his two children. When a strange form of madness infects the people of San Diego, he and Starfire team up to stop it. Buddy's closeness to Starfire has made Ellen disgruntled, and thinks that Buddy is in love with her. Buddy's powers have been in a state of flux, not working at all at times, and manifesting strange abilities at others, such as creating a whirlwind, or firing energy beams. Once their extraterrestrial trip is done, Starfire leaves the Baker home, telling them that they will always be in her heart.


In Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #25, Buddy is drawn into Vixen's animal totem and captured by the trickster god Anansi, who claims to be the one who gave Buddy his powers, having disguised himself as the aliens (whilst reminding Vixen and Buddy that he constantly lies). Anansi also mentions that Buddy's new powers were a side effect of his manipulation of Earth's morphogenic field.

Cry for Justice

Buddy appears in the second half of writer James Robinson's event mini-series Justice League: Cry for Justice. While he and his family are entertaining Starfire and Donna Troy, Buddy is approached by Mikaal Tomas and Congorilla, who ask him for help in tracking down the supervillain Prometheus. He accompanies them to the JLA Watchtower to seek help from the Justice League, and is present when Red Arrow is mauled by an unknown attacker.[10] While searching for Red Arrow's assailant, Buddy is assaulted and brutally injured by Freddy Freeman, who ultimately turns out to be Prometheus in disguise.[11]

During the finale, Buddy is seen helping Starfire and Firestorm rescue survivors after Star City is destroyed by Prometheus.[12]

Blackest Night

During the Blackest Night event, Nekron, lord of the dead, reveals that all those who have returned from the dead, such as Buddy, were allowed to do so, in order to become his "inside agents". A black power ring attatches itself to Buddy, cancelling out his resurrection and transforming him into a Black Lantern.[13]

The Last Days of Animal Man

In the May 2009 series "The Last Days of Animal Man," Buddy Baker evidently loses his super powers and retires from the hero business. The series was written by veteran Bronze Age of Comic Books writer Gerry Conway.

Powers and abilities

Buddy can mimic any abilities of any animal as a result of his encounter with a crashed alien spacecraft. He does this by either focusing on a specific animal near him, or, as he learned later, by drawing power from the animal kingdom in general (this enables him to even mimic animals that are extinct). The nature of these powers has been described in various ways, including the superficial "alien radiation" explanation of his early appearances, the reconstruction of his body by aliens with "morphogenetic grafts" at the cellular level, and currently, mystical access to a "morphogenetic field" created by all living creatures, also known as "the Red". He does not grow wings to fly as a bird (instead he flies in classic "Superman style"), nor does he form gills to breathe underwater when mimicking a fish, but he has occasionally been known to mimic the actual appearances of animals, such as adopting the claws of a wolverine temporarily, or his metamorphosis toward the end of Delano's run on his series.

Among the "animal powers" Buddy has been known to use are:

The level of Buddy's abilities are proportional to the size of the animal they are drawn from. Hence, drawing the jumping ability from a flea would allow him to cover great distances. However, taking the abilities of a larger animal does not result in diminished power for him. In some appearances, he can also talk to animals and enter their minds.

Tapping into the Red, Animal Man can also fire blasts of force or unidentified energy. In cooperation with Vixen and the woman known as "Tristess", he helped to create an entire universe.[14]

In 52, Buddy experiences an upgrade that allows him to connect to the Universe's morphogenetic field, providing him unlimited access to all animals in the universe regardless of origin. At first, Animal Man knew nothing about the alien creatures whose abilities he took, but later has ample knowledge.

Other versions

Animal Man appears in Justice League Unlimited #29, helping Superman and B'Wana Beast against Queen Bee.

In the Titans Tomorrow alternate future from Teen Titans vol. 3 #17-19, Buddy Baker died in a crisis along with most of the other main DCU superheroes. His replacement as Animal Man in that future was Garfield Logan (aka Beast Boy).


  1. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Animal Man", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 16, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  2. ^ Animal Man R.I.P.? Gerry Conway Talks, Comic Book Resources, February 27, 2009
  3. ^ The End? Gerry Conway on The Last Days of Animal Man, Newsarama, March 13, 2009
  4. ^ Justice League International, vol. 1 #24
  5. ^ Justice League Europe #12
  6. ^ WPage / Crisis-Relevant Text: Animal Man
  7. ^ Tom Peyer's one-shot Vertigo Totems
  8. ^ Resurrection Man #24-27
  9. ^ JLA #40
  10. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 (November 2009)
  11. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (January 2010)
  12. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (March 2010)
  13. ^ Blackest Night #5 (November 2009)
  14. ^ Animal Man #48-50


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