Animal Man (1988 Series) #6
Title: Birds of Prey
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Tatjana Wood
Cover Art: Brian Bolland
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: DC Comics
Ah, the Invasion! Crossover. I’d nearly forgotten this one. Back in 1988, a coalition of alien races banded together and invaded the Earth, concerned that their proliferation of superhumans may one day be a threat to the rest of the cosmos. In the “First Strike!” crossovers, such as this one, the Invasion hadn’t begun full-scale yet and many of the heroes didn’t realize quite what they were facing.
Fortunately, even when staring down the barrel of a company crossover, Grant Morrison finds a way to do something unorthodox. Animal Man faces off with a pair of invaders from Thanagar, home planet of Hawkman. Instead of battling a warrior, though, Animal Man is facing a self-styled “performance artist” who uses death as his canvas. It’s a weird, unique way to work the title character into the crossover without doing just another “superhero vs. alien invader” story. It’s still that at the core, of course, but the trappings are different enough to make it feel like a different sort of story, and that’s exactly what readers were hoping for.
Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood provide pretty strong artwork here. The characters look like a part of the greater DC Universe, with styles and designs that fit in with other depictions of Thanagar and its culture of the time. There isn’t quite as much of a chance to cut loose with typical Animal Man-style weirdness as usual, but it’s okay to go a little more straightlaced once in a while.
This issue is definitely a pit stop, something that takes us off the larger path of the Animal Man arc for an issue, but it’s not a bad one. It’s nice to see something a bit more traditional for a little while.