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Animal Man:

Dave Wood Era (1965-1967)

Animal Man’s first five appearances were published at the rate of about one every six months, from 1965 to 1967, in the pages of Strange Adventures Vol. 1.

In his first appearance, in Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #180 (Sept 1965), Animal Man wasn’t named as such. He was simply Buddy Baker, who acquired animal powers and battled a monster, only to lose those powers and propose to his girlfriend Ellen at the story’s end. It was a one-off story, like most in Strange Adventures, a DC-published anthology loosely in the science-fiction genre.

Buddy Baker returned, however, a mere four issues later, in issue #184 (Jan 1966). In a silly story, his powers returned when two yellow aliens went on a ray-gun rampage. This time, Buddy was left with his powers intact — though still unmarried to Ellen.

By Buddy’s third appearance, in issue #190 (July 1966), the issue’s cover advertised its super-hero content, reflecting how the anthology’s sci-fi content was faltering a bit in the marketplace. The Buddy Baker story inside reflected this new tone. In it, Buddy donned a super-hero costume for the first time and got a super-hero name: A-Man.

The title of the fourth story, in issue #195 (Dec 1966), used the name Animal Man, but Buddy was still A-Man within the story. For the first time, A-Man battled a gang of thieves, in what feels like a more conventional super-hero story.

Animal Man only really came together as a concept in his fifth and final story, in issue #201 (June 1967). There, Animal Man got his craziest story yet. The story, entitled “The Mod Gorilla Boss!”, saw Animal Man battle a gang leader who uses a secret formula to transform himself into a gorilla. In order to use his gorilla strength for crime. It’s preposterous, but it’s charming. And it’s just the kind of story that would make him a perfect candidate for his 1980s revival.

And that was it. Animal Man wouldn’t return until 1980, almost 13 years later. He’d only appear a few times prior to Grant Morrison reviving the character, in 1988, for his own ongoing series.

Five issues certainly isn’t a lot of Silver Age material. It’s even less when one considers that each issue featured two stories, only one of which starred Buddy Baker, so the total page count of this era’s Animal Man material is only about two and a half to three standard issues. While written by Dave Wood, these five stories were illustrated by three completely different different artistic teams: Carmine Infantino and George Roussos (stories one and three), Gil Kane (story two), and Jack Sparling (stories four and five).

Until 1988, no one would have guessed that anyone would have ever remembered these five stories, let alone that they featured the earliest material of a character who would become a mainstay of the DC Universe.

Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #180

“I was the Man with Animal Powers!” -- 15.33 pages

  • written by Dave Wood; pencils by Carmine Infantino; inks by George Roussos
  • contains the first appearance of Buddy and Ellen Baker
  • this story is divided into two chapters, each of which has a final page that has an ad for its bottom third
  • Animal Man isn’t named, doesn’t appear in costume, and loses his powers at the end (this wasn’t intended as a continuing feature)
  • Buddy proposes to Ellen at the end

untitled “Little Pete” comic -- 0.5 pages

  • written by Henry Boltinoff; art by Henry Boltinoff
  • a humor strip

untitled “Strange but True” story -- 1 pages

  • text story

“One Monster — Coming Up!” -- 8 pages

  • art by George Roussos
  • men drilling for oil disturb an ancient Indian treasure and the giant monster that guards it

untitled “Professor Eureka” comic -- 0.67 pages

  • written by Henry Boltinoff; art by Henry Boltinoff
  • a humor strip

cover by Carmine Infantino; published by DC Comics; $0.12; cover-dated Sept 1965; published 29 July 1965

Additional Images:

Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #184

“The Return of the Man with Animal Powers!” -- 15.67 pages

  • written by Dave Wood; art by Gil Kane
  • after an encounter with two yellow, rampaging aliens, Buddy Baker’s powers are restored, and he saves the Earth

untitled “Cap’s Hobby Center” story

  • written by Henry Boltinoff; art by Henry Boltinoff
  • a humor strip

“H-Hour for a Hurricane Hunter” -- 7.67 pages

  • art by Howard Purcell
  • tracking a hurricane for the U.S. Weather Bureau, Matt Harwood encounters a gang of crooks in a dirigible hiding in the clouds

“The Human X-Ray”

  • a “Strange but True” text piece

cover by Gil Kane; published by DC Comics; $0.12; cover-dated Jan 1966

Additional Images:

Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #190

“A-Man: The Man with the Animal Powers” -- 12.33 pages

  • written by Dave Wood; pencils by Carmine Infantino; inks by George Roussos
  • the first story in which Buddy Baker is in costume, though he uses the name A-Man
  • as A-Man, Buddy Baker fights crooks who have a machine that can telepathically control animals

“Immortal Man” -- 12 pages

  • art by Jack Sparling
  • the third Immortal Man story (after Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #177 and #185)
  • the Immortal Man (Kirk Jason) beats a monster, sacrificing another of his lives to do it

“Science Backs the Fable of the Loch Ness Monster”

  • a “Strange but True” text piece

cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson; published by DC Comics; $0.12; cover-dated July 1966; published 26 May 1966

Additional Images:

Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #195

“Secret of the Three Earth Dooms” -- 11.67 pages

  • art by Lee Elias
  • professor Ira Galton must figure out how to stop three impossible cosmic disasters, which turn out to be tests administered by an alien species

untitled “Cap’s Hobby Hints” story -- 0.5 pages

  • written by Henry Boltinoff; art by Henry Boltinoff

“Animal Man, Man or Freak?” -- 11.67 pages

  • written by Dave Wood; art by Jack Sparling
  • Animal Man (though still called A-Man, outside of the title) battles thieves

untitled “Strange but True” text piece -- 1 pages

  • written by Jack Miller

cover by Jack Sparling; published by DC Comics; $0.12; cover-dated Dec 1966

Additional Images:

Strange Adventures Vol. 1 #201

“The Cackling Conjurer!” -- 11.5 pages

  • art by Bernard Baily
  • two explorers meet an ancient evil sorcerer who’s trying to restore his fading immortality

“Lost — in Eternity!” -- 1 pages

  • a “Strange but True” text piece

“The Mod Gorilla Boss!” -- 11.5 pages

  • art by Jack Sparling
  • Animal Man battles a gang leader who’s used a formula to transforms himself into a gorilla so he can use his animal strength for crime

cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos; published by DC Comics; $0.12; cover-dated June 1967

Tagged , Strange Adventures.