The Comic Revolution Nobody Was Paying Attention To
Grant Morrison's Animal Man has to be one of the most creative and unusual runs on a mainstream D.C. superhero (or any superhero comic for that matter) in the history of comics. I was never really a fan of Animal Man. To me, the character was just one of a long list of "fill-in-the-blank-Mans" and "something-Boys" that D.C. churned out in the silver age, and not a particularly creative one at that. But Grant Morrison took the comic and turned it into a more modern version of the "funny book". The series was marked by entertaining stories with an unpretentious comic-bookiness, a recognition of the inherent cliches, frequently playing with the nature of "reality" in the comic, and many instances of breaking fourth wall, and metafiction looks at the medium and industry itself.
This issue drudges up a monster from the silver age of Animal Man's history, a behemoth that existed only for a few panels, solely to give Animal Man someone to fight. It opens with a flashback to that silver age story, followed by an excellent sequence intercutting between the parallel action of Vixen being chased by a mostly invisible monster, visible only roughly due to the pouring rain, and a sequence of an actual fox being chased by hounds only to be rescued at the last minute by Animal Man who is working with an anti-fox hunting group in Hertfordshire. The human Vixen makes it to the solace of Animal Man's house, and is taken in by Ellen Baker.
Meanwhile, Doctor Highwater visits Arkham Asylum where both the Mad Hatter, and Psycho Pirate make references to the fact that they're really in a comic book, including references to Crisis on Infinite Earths and even Marv Wolfman! Highwater becomes interested in Animal Man after finding a page of an Animal Man comic in Psycho Pirate's cell.
The issue eventually leads to a battle in the Baker family home, where the shocking scene so beautifully depicted on the cover by Brian Bolland finally occurs, and ends with a cliffhanger.
While he only wrote the comic for two years, Animal Man was nothing short of revolutionary, as evidenced by this issue.