Animal Man's Craziest Animal Powers

Category: Animal Man
Last article published: 27 March 2018
This is the 14th post under this label
Even if Animal Man hadn't been a mind-blowing comic under Grant Morrison's pen, I would have been hard-wired to enjoy it. As a kid, I was raised on Safari Cards - mail-order flash cards that detailed animals from across the world - and anyone writing Animal Man could do a lot worse than have a stack of those cards next to them. Most of the time, Buddy Baker is shown to fly like a bird, run like a horse, jump like kangaroo, punch like a gorilla, maybe the odd moment where he channels the proportional strength of a spider, but that's pretty boring. Good Animal Man writers have to know their animal kingdom, and what weird and woolly abilities are in nature. And here again, Morrison nailed it. He never had Buddy cry the noxious, bloody tears of the horny toad, but here are some of freakiest animal powers showcased during his run on the book...
Earthworm regeneration: In Animal Man #3, Buddy regrows an arm after making contact with worms under the pavement. (A freakier story would have been the arm also generating a Buddy.)
Chameleon camouflage: Yeah, not so useful unless you can afford unstable molecule clothing.
Bacteria self-replication: Did Buddy get a costume upgrade from the JLI? We might have had a naked Animal Man army otherwise! This goes to show there are ALWAYS animals around. They're in our guts!
Mole digging: It's just a physical power like flight or running, but we just don't see enough of Buddy taking the low road.
Pistol shrimp sonic blasts: NOW we're talkin'! The pistol shrimp snaps its claws together to stun prey at range, which really shouldn't work in air, but COMICS. I'm fine with it.
Animal senses: Buddy recreates events at a crime scene using all the olfactory powers of the animal kingdom, minnows that smell through their skin, and moths that have better noses than dogs specifically.
Fly perception: You know how hard it is to swat them? That's because they experience life so slowly, you seem to be in slow-motion. We're easy to avoid.

That's from issue #21, and after that, the final act kicks into high gear and the book is more about what it means to be a comic book character than any given set of powers. I could look, but I don't remember other writers getting this as right as Morrison did.

What are YOUR favorite animal powers (whether used by Buddy or not)?


Erich said...

One of my favorite moments from the Jeff Lemire series was early on, when Buddy returns home from work exhausted and uses a cat's power to fall asleep quickly.

Thinking back to the Tom Veitch run, it seemed as if Veitch held the character's very concept in contempt, with his declaration that animals don't have "powers," they just have different bodies that let them do these feats...

Siskoid said...

Oh yes, I love that one, Erich!

And also yes, Veitch was a bit of a party pooper. I don't think the book ever healed from that blow.

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

Just happened to see this article while browsing your blog. If it or the title has anything to do with either Animal Man or the Doom Patrol I instantly click on it, ha ha.
Anyhoo I honestly didn't know Veitch looked down upon Animal Man's powers or the natural abilities of animals. Interesting to know. Not that I got any of that from the few issues of his run I own. I know he really but Buddy through the wringer, but nothing worse than Morrison did. I definitely enjoyed the whole animal master story that was never picked up ever again.

Off the top of my head I don't really have a favorite Animal Man power, I just think he's got a cool and unique power-set is all.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine