Animal Man (1988 Series) #3
Title: The Nature of the Beast
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chas Truog & Doug Hazelwood
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Tatjana Wood
Cover Art: Brian Bolland
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: DC Comics
The reveal which was pretty obvious from the first issue is made here – the strange man who is wreaking a horrible vendetta on S.T.A.R. Labs is the old DC hero B’wana Beast. For those unfamiliar with the man with the goofiest superhero name of all time, B’wana Beast was a white man who protected Africa with the power to merge different animals into a single organism, combining the characteristics of both, and then separate them again. It’s actually kind of a cool, unusual power when you think about it, but that doesn’t excuse his terrible fashion choice or superhero name.
Anyway, while Buddy Baker tries to recover from the rather violent way he was disarmed last issue, B’wana flashes back to the devastation he recently witnessed in Africa, the death of a friend that pushed him over the edge, and how it all led to his targeting S.T.A.R. Labs in the here and now. B’wana Beast’s story is, actually, a little pedestrian for Grant Morrison, a little too by-the-book, a little too much of what we’ve seen before. Of course, this was still an early stage in his career, and the story isn’t over yet, so I could see him putting a twist on the formula, but it doesn’t make this issue as compelling as it could be. Far more interesting is the story of Buddy’s wife and daughter, who have fun across a group of hunters in the woods and now find themselves in the midst of a brutal confrontation. All things considered, this is a fairly straightforward subplot, without the sort of wild mysticism one expects from the writer, but it’s handled here in a well-reasoned, compelling fashion.
Chas Truog, whose second issue was a marked improvement over his first, seems to be going back in the opposite direction in issue three. B’wana Beast shows off some markedly impossible anatomy throughout the issue, made all the more obvious as he’s naked save for his loincloth, boots and helmet. The scenes with Buddy’s family, which are among the best written in this issue, feature the weakest artwork, with flat poses and bizarre proportions in the faces, especially Maxine’s.
The germ of the brilliant story to come is evident, but hopefully the artwork will pick up soon.