Origin of The Superhero Narrative
Animal Man barely manages to achieve one of the better Zero Issue covers, the standard centered jumping through works decently well enough on its own, but the big thing that sells it on this one is the GORGEOUS WINGS.
Steve Pugh's artwork is a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of the fighting in this issue is a little stiff and awkward, and suffers from an uncanny sense of reality due to a lack of proper backgrounds at times, but once the narrative switches to Buddy Baker, everything looks perfectly fine, and in some areas actually excellent.
Lemire does an absolutely genius job reworking the details of Grant Morrison's legendary run that doesn't diminish it, but builds upon in. The idea that the entire superhero persona and elaborate origin story were details fabricated by the Totems to build a narrative that Buddy could comprehend in the current times is actually nearly as deep as what Morrison did, and even brushes against the 4th wall with the idea that origin stories are as ludicrous as they are to make readers accept them MORE, despite being perhaps less realistic.
We also get to see snippits highlighting Buddy's past exploits, a nod to his career as an actor, his rise to fame, the old Penalizer comics from Veitch's run; it all leads up to an nice little exploration of this only child family dynamic with a superhero father. It reminds me back of the earlier issues, where the family drama was more balanced with the superheroics. The character interactions are just so 'real,' it's easy to get wrapped up in them before the issue's abrupt ending. But any more of this would be maddening, as leaving off the cliffhanger from Swamp Thing's half of the Rotworld Prologue right before the Zero Month is frustrating in the best way, where the tension is strung out over another month.
In Conclusion: 4.5/5
Jeff Lemire is doing brilliant things with his retelling of Animal Man's origins; weaving in a 4th wall brush and a deeper analysis of superhero origins, and connecting back to the strong family dynamics that made the initial issues so good. But the issue is a bit rushed, it doesn't really go anywhere, it just tells us how he got his powers with some deeper background to it, then shows a montage of his early days... and then Ellen is pregnant with Maxine. This issue doesn't really stand on its own well, it just kind of 'happens.' But what happens is still damn great.