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Silver Age September – Animal Man in Strange Adventures!

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

Today we look at the evolution of Animal Man as a featured character in the pages of Strange Adventures between 1965 and 1967.

Enjoy!

Dave Wood introduced Buddy Baker in 1965′s Strange Adventures #180, with art by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos.

In a similar fashion to the first appearance of Hank Pym, Buddy does not become a superhero after gaining his animal powers (in fact, he does not have them at the end of the issue).

Instead, he’s just a fellow who isn’t brave enough to ask his girlfriend to marry him…

He then uses his new powers to help…

but when an alien shows up causing problems, Buddy’s powers run out…

here’s Buddy’s plan…

Great ending to the first appearance of Buddy Baker.

He returned a few issues later to stop another alien threat (this time drawn by Gil Kane). His powers came back and at the end of the issue he makes a vow…

That vows comes into action a few issues later (back to Infantino for the art), as he becomes A-Man!

Even back then, Buddy was an odd superhero – his powers worked funny and his identity was not particularly secret.

Jack Sparling came aboard to draw the last two appearances of “A-Man” in Strange Adventures #195…

and a forgettable #201 that I won’t bother exploring as it is pretty bad. Deadman took over in #205, and Buddy was a “forgotten hero” for years before he was, well, a “Forgotten Hero”!

And then Morrison stepped in, and that’s what Buddy is most known for today.

Those original stories, though, were, for the most part, very well written and drawn with a unique approach to superheroics.

10 Comments

Wow! Affected his entire monster space. Sure gave him clever radiation.

Wow, The Mod Gorilla Boss (#201) is pretty bad? To each his or her own I guess…that Animal Man/Mod Gorilla Boss story perfectly sums up the DC ‘checkerboard’ era – wacky and fun!

So glad Lemaire is kicking butt with the new 52 Animal Man (and Frankenstein!). He couldn’t be in better hands.

Wow, the first issue had the main character throw a tiger at a gorilla and punch an elephant. That is just too awesome. I wish comics had more elephant punching in them. I think the hulk punched in elephant in Avengers #1.

Forgettable?! How on Earth could a person forget the Mod Gorilla Boss?!

I’ve read one or two of these stories, always wanted to read the others. Would love an early Animal Man showcase, including the Forgotten Hero stories…

I thought Ellen and Roger were Grant Morrison creations.

I have the Mod Gorilla Boss issue, but it’s in such bad shape I’m worried it’s going to fall apart if I read it, so I have no idea whether it’s as lame as Brian says. Now I can definitely see why Buddy was part of the Forgotten Heroes; those are some sparse appearances.

I love Buddy’s speech about how he can’t marry Ellen because as a costumed crimefighter his life will be in constant danger.

As it turns out, much later, he has good reason to be worried about his family’s safety, but at the time it seems like he’s taking himself a little too seriously. Batman he ain’t.

This isn’t quite a fully formed enough thought to be a Comic Legend Revealed, but I’ve often wondered what the heck the deal was with Animal Man’s abortive Justice League Europe membership. Was he assigned to the League by DC editorial & Giffen/DeMatteis just had no use for him? Did their plans to use Buddy in the JLE run contrary to Morrison’s plans in his own title? Or did everything happen exactly according to plan, and was Buddy’s non-presence in the JLE just there to move the story along in his own comic?

I guess something like that happened with Dr. Light in JLI too. Several people from the initial lineup didn’t really stick around long (Dr. Fate, Captain Marvel, etc.). Maybe members not really working out was part of what Giffen/DeMatteis were going for–or maybe they liked to try various combinations of characters and found that they didn’t know what to do with some of them.

So, a circus train just happened to crash in the same area and at the same time Buddy got struck by an alien energy that gave him the power to absorb animal characteristics? Talk about a coincidence!

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