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Zani, Steven: "It's a Jungle in Here. Animal Man, Continuity Issues and the Authorical Death Drive." In: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero. Hrsg. v. Angela Ndalianis. (Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies, 19.) London, New York: Routledge, 2009, S. 216–232.
|Resource type: Book Article
BibTeX citation key: Zani2009a
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Keywords: "Animal Man", Großbritannien, Identität, Metaisierung, Morrison. Grant, Superheld
Creators: Ndalianis, Zani
Publisher: Routledge (London, New York)
Collection: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero
Grant Morrison was one of a number of authors who participated in the revisionist trend of the 1980's comic genre, taking over the narrative of a 1960's hero from the DC archives, the unimaginative creation “Animal Man”, who can duplicate the abilities of nearby animals. Morrison used the character as a spring board for a multiplicity of themes. Besides addressing immediate contemporary political concerns (notably issues of animal rights and ethics within the first few issues) Morrison drafted an Animal Man that very quickly became a meta-textual platform for discussions of identity construction. The paper addresses the development that Animal Man, and Morrison himself (who eventually includes himself within the narrative) undergoes in issues #1–26 of the book. In these issues, Morrison's authorial run on the title, Animal Man suffers from a number of trials and crises, sometimes with explicit mythological and Christian symbolic parallels, notably the story of Job. While the comic may have begun with a large scale political message on animal rights, the journey ends with Animal Man pursuing a much more intensely personal, or internal search for identity and meaning. Morrison's final arguments are that enduring heroism is a process achieved by constant evaluation of one's self and one's motives, and by constant attention the process involved in creating, literally writing and drawing, one's own identity. The individual battles and trials are less important than the constructive process of creating oneself in relation to memory and text. In the process, Morrison demonstrated that the possibilities allowed by the comics medium were no less than that allowed by any number of other artistic genres. Certainly there is much that is not new in Morrison's Animal Man. Overt political messages have been a part of the comic genre since its World War II propogandistic origins, a trend continued in any number of other clearly political texts well into the contemporary comics era (“Speedy's” heroin addiction in the 1970's Green Lantern & Green Arrow series comes to mind). Nor is there much new in having characters plagued with self-doubt and/or personal problems—Spider-Man's introspective anxiety is an enduring element of his popularity. But Morrison's eventual metatextual approach, which turned Animal Man into a kind of comic book Tristram Shandy with all of its ludicrous comedies and possibilities, reveals that what is at stake in the comic book is nothing less than what is at stake in all artistic representation whatsoever. In short, Animal Man was a text that raised the stakes of the comic undertaking. In shifting the boundaries that separate man from animal, author from text, Morrison helped usher in an era where the lines dividing comics from writing, comics from art, could become similarly blurred, and even erased.
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