Animal Man is one of the 52 new series DC is releasing in September, as part of their massive relaunch. Grant Morrison made the character his own when he wrote the series from 1988 to 1990 and now Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf’s excellent The Essex County Trilogy) is having a go at the adventures of Buddy Baker.
Here’s his original proposal as seen on DC’s blog, The Source.
ANIMAL MAN monthly series, September 2011
Jeff Lemire, writer
The high concept: Family man or superman? With the power to absorb the traits of any animal Buddy Baker has made a career as a part-time superhero. But when his young daughter begins to develop incredibly dangerous powers of her own, the Bakers will have to give up their quiet suburban life and go on the run across America.
BUDDY BAKER: Animal Man. Father, husband and part-time superhero.
ELLEN BAKER: Buddy’s supportive wife. Her strength keeps the family together.
CLIFF BAKER: 12-year old son, rebellious and jealous of his sister.
MAXINE BAKER: 8-year old daughter. Possibly the next avatar of The Red and the most dangerous living creature on Earth.
THE TOTEMS: CONFIDENTIAL
THE HUNTERS: CONFIDENTIAL
SOCKS: Avatar of The Red from the 1950’s.
Buddy Baker’s superhero career is a part-time concern at best. And aside from flirting with an acting career in arthouse indie films, Buddy seems to be doing little to pull in a steady income, putting undo stress on his already tumultuous marriage. To make matters worse, Buddy and Ellen’s young daughter, 8-year old Maxine, is exhibiting incredible and dangerous powers, powers she’s too young to understand or control.
For our purposes we’ll skim over all of his involvement in 52 and Countdown. That stuff happened, but let’s move on and get back to Buddy as a suburban family man, rather than cosmic globetrotter.
Basically we start with Buddy’s best days as a superhero behind him. But, Buddy has found a bit of a second life. His past exploits, his politics and his involvement in various animal rights groups have made him something of a hipster icon. The young, left wing college crowd has latched onto the image of Animal Man as if he were something of an indie/alt icon of the 90’s. Unfortunately, that really isn’t helping to pay the bills.
As our series opens Buddy is actually reading an interview he did in a “Believer-type” magazine at the kitchen table as Ellen makes diner (the first page of the first issue is actually an excerpt from this interview, complete with the little illustrated headshot of Buddy, which catches readers up on Buddy’s recent past and his lessening involvement in super heroics, and his re-emergence within youth culture). There is clearly stress in their marriage. Buddy is doing little to help make ends meet and Ellen’s career as an illustrator is drying up.
We establish their quiet suburban life and routine and reintroduce readers to their three kids: Cliff, is now fourteen, anti-social and rebellious. Maxine is an introverted and shy ten-year old, and four-year old Josie is clearly the apple of Buddy’s eye.
As our story begins, Maxine begins to develop powers of her own. Buddy tries his best to help Maxine, but instead he accidentally sets into motion an ancient evil that will send The Baker family on the run across the dark and dangerous underbelly of modern America and right into the hands of [CLASSIFIED]. And there may be only one being who can save them…Alec Holland.