Saturday, 17 September 2011

Animal Man #1 / Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #1

Here’s two more digital comics that I downloaded while slightly drunk last week – both of them comics I was planning on downloading anyway, but had I been fully in control of my senses, I probably would have waited a few weeks until they dropped in price a bit.  Oh well.

Both of these are written by Jeff ‘Sweet Tooth’ Lemire, which is why I wanted to read them, and both are also part of DC’s current line-wide reboot, which doesn’t interest me that much at all.  Really, though, there isn’t much in either comic to indicate a new status quo, other than a line of dialogue in the Frankenstein comic which refers to ‘Supermen’ and ‘Batmen’ as if they were a new phenomenon.  Otherwise, both of these comics could have been – and appear to be – set in the old DCU.

Animal Man #1 is the better of the two comics.  It starts with Buddy ‘Animal Man’ Baker at home with his family, reading an interview he did with a magazine.  Buddy’s past as a superhero is openly referred to, so I guess this is the same old Animal Man, all the stuff that happened during Grant Morrison’s celebrated run on the title still happened, and this idea I had that DC were going to start again from scratch with all their characters was just a misunderstanding on my part.  Buddy’s wife thinks he was happier when he was crime-fighting, and pretty soon he is flying off in costume to break up a siege at a children’s hospital.  That dealt with, Buddy starts bleeding from the eyes, for no apparent reason, and then things get weirder.  This wasn’t necessarily a brilliant comic – all the stuff about Buddy’s love for his family, and the scene in the children’s hospital, seemed a bit heavy-handed to me – but I liked it more the weirder it got.  There was a nice creepy dream sequence towards the end and the creepy final page – which reminded me of parts of the new Swamp Thing #1, although I really hope the two comics aren’t linked – left me intrigued enough that I will probably come back for at least one more issue.  Oh, and Travel Foreman’s art, which has received mixed reviews elsewhere, was excellent throughout, but particularly during the dream sequence.

Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #1 isn’t bad either, it just isn’t quite as good as Animal Man #1, mainly because most of the issue is set-up.  It starts with some big monsters taking over a small town and then we head to SHADE (Super Human Advanced Defence Executive) headquarters, which are set inside a three inch wide, indestructible dome, currently hovering 2,000 miles above Manhattan Island, and accessible only using a combination of teleportation and shrink technology provided by Ray ‘The Atom’ Palmer.  Frankenstein (shouldn’t that be Frankenstein’s Monster?) arrives at SHADE HQ and then spends most of the issue getting filled in on the goings on at SHADE and the monster situation by the head of SHADE, who Frankenstein refers to as 'father', even though he currently wears the form of a ten-year-old girl (I may have missed something in another comic, or I may not, but whatever, I’m prepared to just go along with that for now).  He is then introduced to the new Creature Commandos – a werewolf, a vampire, a mummy, and a woman who looks like Abe Sapien / The Creature from the Black lagoon – and they all head off to ‘Monster Town, USA’ to kick some butt.

Although this issue is mostly set-up, it is at least a decent set up.  Alberto Ponticelli’s art – which is not too far removed from Jeff Lemire’s own style – is very good, and while I’m not that keen on the new Creature Commandos so far, I like the DC version of Frankenstein, I’d like to meet Frankenstein's wife (she’s stuck in ‘Monster Town’ and should show up more in the next issue), and I think this could turn into a fun series.  I’m just not sure if it’s the sort of fun I want to pay for, so while I would happily read the next issue for free, I’m not sure if I will be back for more yet.  I’ll have to see how I feel next month.

Cost: These comics have a cover price of $2.99 each.  I downloaded them from Comixology and paid $2.99 (about £1.90) each, which, err, may be the full cover price but it still worked out cheaper than buying them from my local comic shop, which would have charged about £2.50 per issue.  Still, if I’d waited a few weeks they would have dropped in price to $1.99 each, which is usually the most I will pay for a digital comic (no resale value, and all that) and if I do buy the second issues of either of these titles, I will definitely try and be more patient.


  1. Digital comics!?! Whatever next? ;-)

    I'll read these if and when they arrive at my local library. I was a huge fan of Morrison's Animal Man - it remains one of my favourite comic runs of all time - so I'm intrigued to see Lemire's take on the character.

  2. I still prefer printed graphic novels / TPBs to digital comics, but I much prefer digital comics to paper periodical comics these days.

    I only read Morrison's Animal Man for the first time last year. I quite liked it, especially the first book, but lost interest a bit towards the end. Might need to read the whole thing again.

  3. But... towards the end is where it gets good!

    Bah, philistine!

  4. I must admit I can't remember much about the later books now, but I do remember liking the earlier stuff more. I liked them all enough to keep them, so I'll have to give them another go some time.