Sequart on Twitter Sequart on Facebook Sequart on Google+ SequartTV on YouTube Sequart on Patreon

Animal Man:

Jamie Delano Era (1992-1994)

Jamie Delano’s run on Animal Man began and ended with Buddy Baker’s death. While many criticized Delano’s run as it progressed, it’s important to note that this situation deteriorated over time. Indeed, Delano’s run started with a strength rivaling or even exceeding much of Grant Morrison‘s much-lauded work on the title.

When Delano took the reigns, Animal Man was badly in need of new vibrancy. Whereas Morrison’s run had felt tremendously vibrant, the two years following his departure had seen a slow but progressive deterioration. Delano, like his predecessors, had an impressive pedigree as a comics writer — but in his case, it seemed almost perfectly suited for Animal Man. Delano, after all, had taken a secondary character in Alan Moore‘s Swamp Thing and turned him into the protagonist of Hellblazer. While Delano’s work was sometimes hit and miss on that title, it was far more hit than miss and had really created the fully-fledged character of John Constantine, telling many masterful horror stories along the way.

It is one of the forgotten aspects of Animal Man‘s history that Delano’s early run did indeed fulfill this promise. Issue #51, Delano’s first issue, went as far as to kill off the title’s protagonist — and did so in a particularly brutal fashion. It was a maneuver that would later win James Robinson great acclaim following his first issue of Starman. In his first issue — occurring some time after Veitch’s conclusion, with Animal Man and his family settled down at the farm in Vermont — Delano introduced Ellen’s uncle Dudley, a gun-carrying, arch-conservative hick who effectively kidnaps Buddy Baker’s son, Cliff. The son of the environmentalist Animal Man, Cliff was traumatically made to witness and even participate in the brutal killing of the very animals his father represented. Pursuing his son, Animal Man was literally run over by Dudley’s car and left mangled in the street to die. Which he did.

As the storyline — entitled “Flesh and Blood” — continued, united by the dark art of Steve Pugh (the main artist throughout Delano’s run; the two had previously collaborated on Hellblazer), we found that Animal Man’s life force had survived and began reincarnating itself in the bodies of various animals. In the process, Animal Man discovered the Red — the animal equivalent of Swamp Thing’s the Green — a bloody field of sorts that unites all animal life. Delano had masterfully succeeded in the desire to do for Animal Man what Moore had done for Swamp Thing — and he had done so complete with Moore’s tone of true horror. Central to Delano’s storyline was the violence of nature, an intellectually necessary counterpoint to the title’s past sanitary depiction of nature — not to mention Swamp Thing‘s more vegetative Green. Mangled and dead animals abounded, and the reader was left haunted by the brutal implications of ourselves as animals, as “flesh and blood.” Delano had turned Animal Man into a first-class horror title.

The storyline concluded in issue #56 (Feb 1993), a truly double-sized issue meant to clear the decks before the January 1993 launch of DC’s Vertigo imprint, which would take in Animal Man as well as DC’s five other ongoing mature readers books. In the two-part conclusion, Buddy Baker, reborn as a frightening hybrid animal avatar, rescued Cliff and discovered the ability to recreate his original human form.

Issue #57, the first Vertigo issue, began Buddy’s new life as a sort of animal elemental. Now legally deceased, Buddy Baker felt content to live a quiet life with his family. Fearing that nature would eventually exterminate the human beings despoiling it, Animal Man began trying to make them understand the consequences of their actions. The farm became a kind of commune, a haven for environmentalist outcasts — including Annie Cassidy, a woman who also was in contact with the Red, and her daughter named Lucy who began a relationship with Cliff — a relationship they consummated in animal passion. Buddy, overwhelmed by the Red, again adopted the body of the hybrid animal avatar and flew to Washington, D.C., where he attacked the city with all kinds of animals, trying to pressure humanity to change its ways. The storyline led to Buddy’s capture by the authorities, but he was released in part due to public sympathy.

Between Buddy’s agenda and the many who shared his sentiments on the farm, Annie suggested starting a cult. Called the Life Power Church of Maxine, Buddy served as prophet and Maxine as savior. Despite resistance from the establishment, the church grew, especially among the young. This, combined with the revelation that Buddy had had an affair through the Red with Annie, placed tremendous stress on Ellen, who felt alienated from the movement and temporarily left Buddy. The church careened across the country along Route 66, acquiring both new converts and various rebellious animals. Finally settling down in Montana, all that remained was for Buddy Baker to die — once again — in Delano’s final issue, issue #79.

Delano’s run — the first to be longer than Grant Morrison’s own — commenced with a brilliant storyline that created the Red, the necessary animal component of Swamp Thing’s vegetative Green. But the tone of horror brought to Delano’s original storyline failed to maintain itself, as the series gave way to themes of religion and state persecution. While Delano’s run is remembered as disappointing, we can only imagine how history would record his run had the attention Vertigo brought to the title occurred six months earlier, allowing new readers to encounter — and remember — that we are all “flesh and blood.”

Flesh and Blood

Animal Man Vol. 1 #51

“Roadkill” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Animal Man dies

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Sept 1992
Animal Man Vol. 1 #52

“Homecoming” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • after being run over, Buddy Baker struggles to return to life

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Oct 1992
Animal Man Vol. 1 #53

“Pondlife” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Buddy Baker struggles his way up the food chain

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Nov 1992
Animal Man Vol. 1 #54

“Despair Drop Dead” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Dec 1992
Animal Man Vol. 1 #55

“Heartbeats” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Jan 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #56

“Incarnate” -- 25 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Buddy Baker finally returns to life in a humanoid form
  • chapter six of the “Flesh and Blood” storyline”

“Metamorphosis” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Scot Eaton; inks by Graham Higgins
  • Buddy Baker regains his human form
  • concludes the “Flesh and Blood” storyline

“The Kannibal Kid Gets a Job” -- 7 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Russell Braun
  • focuses on the Kannibal Kid, a comic created by Cliff Baker

an extra-long issue in order to wrap up the “Flesh and Blood” storyline in time to start a new one for Vertigo’s launch; cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics; 56 pages; $3.50; cover-dated Feb 1993

Trial Separation

Animal Man Vol. 1 #57

“Wild Bunch” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Steve Pugh; inks by Steve Pugh with Graham Higgins
  • when Ellen goes to visit friends, Buddy Baker is left with the kids

first Vertigo issue; cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.75; cover-dated Mar 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #58

“Wildside” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by John Higgins
  • focuses on Ellen alone in New York City, where she’s almost raped and is arrested for solicitation

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.75; cover-dated Apr 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #59

“Wild Town” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Russell Braun; inks by Graham Higgins
  • Buddy goes to New York City to find Ellen
  • Ellen is sentenced to prison

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.75; cover-dated May 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #60

“Wildlife” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Russell Braun; inks by Tom Sutton
  • Animal Man is arrested but escapes
  • concludes the story begun in issue #57

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated June 1993

Tooth and Claw

Animal Man Vol. 1 #61

“Seasickness” -- 23 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Buddy and Ellen take the kids to the beach

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated July 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #62

“Flotsam” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Aug 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #63

“Leviathan” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Animal Man battles Leviathan

cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Sept 1993

Four Issues

Animal Man Vol. 1 #64

“Breath of God” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Will Simpson; inks by Dan Steffan
  • Animal Man battles Maxine

cover by Dan Brereton; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Oct 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #65

“Perfumed Garden” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano
  • Buddy tries to explain the Lifeweb to Ellen

Will Simpson art; cover by Randy DuBurke; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Nov 1993
Animal Man Vol. 1 #66

“Communion” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh

cover by Tom Taggart; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Dec 1993
Animal Man Annual Vol. 1 #1

“Misfit” -- 56 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Russell Braun; inks by Tom Sutton and Rafael Kayanan
  • the government attacks the farm and Maxine escapes into Free Country

part 3 of Vertigo’s The Children’s Crusade crossover (running through 1993′s Vertigo annuals); cover by Brian Bolland; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $3.95; cover-dated Dec 1993

Mysterious Ways

Animal Man Vol. 1 #67

“Mysterious Ways” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • no one remembers Cliff’s birthday

cover by Tom Taggart; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Jan 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #68

“Mysterious Ways, Part 2″ -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh

cover by Tom Taggart; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Feb 1994

The Rest

Animal Man Vol. 1 #69

“Cold, Cold, Cold” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Maxine freezes to death in a blizzard

cover by George Pratt; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Mar 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #70

“A Strange and Reckless Freedom” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Maxine is buried but is later resurrected

cover by George Pratt; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Apr 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #71

“The Sermon on the Monument” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Russell Braun; inks by Tom Sutton
  • Buddy, blaming the U.S. government for Maxine’s death, attacks Washington, D.C., with animals

cover by Michael Uman; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated May 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #72

“Last Supper” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Sarah Wise gets Buddy released from prison (following his actions in the previous issue)

cover by Mark Chiarello; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated June 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #73

“Children and Animals” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Buddy and Maxine go on TV to explain their new religion

cover by Mark Chiarello; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated July 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #74

“Better Red Than Dead!” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; pencils by Russell Braun and Fred Harper; inks by Gene Fama
  • Buddy, Cliff, Annie, and Lucy go to see the band Year Zero, who have embraced the church established by Buddy and Maxine

cover by Michael Uman; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Aug 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #75

“Red Plague” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Animal Man and his religious followers begin to travel across the nation to reach Montana

cover by John Van Fleet; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Sept 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #76

“Quarantine Zone” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • Ray Dillinger, a disciple of Animal Man’s church, is captured by some local farm boys but is rescued by Jack, who is looking for his son among Animal Man’s converts

cover by John Van Fleet; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Oct 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #77

“Thicker Than Water” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Peter Snejbjerg
  • when Jack arrives to take his son Tod back home, Cliff is shot

cover by Miran Kim; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Nov 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #78

“Scarlet Fever” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • after being shot, Cliff has a fever
  • Ray Dillinger gets orders to take Buddy down

cover by Peter Kuper; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Dec 1994
Animal Man Vol. 1 #79

“Promised Land” -- 24 pages

  • written by Jamie Delano; art by Steve Pugh
  • when his followers arrive at their promised land, Animal Man dies

cover by Peter Kuper; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $1.95; cover-dated Jan 1995

Tagged , .